I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book under the LGBTQ+ tag on NetGalley, and to be honest I don’t think I would otherwise have known it featured an LGBT character, as the description gives very little away:
“Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren’t broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova.
My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.
School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real…especially me. I didn’t fit any category.
All the girls watched me – I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make–up was always flawless.
All the boys wanted to, well, you know… even if they didn’t admit it.
They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.
I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine’s Day, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.
But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.
This is my story.”
My first thought after reading that was that it really wasn’t going to be my kind of thing at all – it just came across as too glitzy and girly – but I decided there was no harm in giving it a shot. As much as I found the first few pages a little odd, but altogether okay, I figured it would have to improve. Sadly, I was wrong.
The main character, Jude, is gay and expresses his sexuality often through the way he dresses, and can at times appear quite feminine – a fact which he gets a lot of stick for from classmates. Naturally, a fair amount of transphobic and homophobic slurs were thrown about due to this, and although I can understand trying for some shock value (perhaps to show how easily these words can be dropped into conversation?), this went far beyond shocking – to be honest, a lot of it made me really uncomfortable. The most common slur used is of course “f—-t”, and whilst I appreciate that not everyone takes offence to that, I certainly do and I absolutely hate the word – so much so, I can’t even bring myself to think it, never mind type it out. There’s one quote in particular which just about made me stop reading the book, as I just felt so horrified:
“I loved the sound. F—-t is such a sexy word, it made me horny. That’s what I wanted Zac Efron to call me when he finally took my virginity.”
Safe to say, that’s not at all what I had been expecting when I decided to read this. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few good quotes, my favourites being “having dinner with Satan in a Sunday hat” in reference to going to lunch with is grandmother, and
“I wanted them to hate me; hate was as close to love as I thought I’d ever be.”
There’s something about that quote which I really like; most likely the fact that it realises how similar love and hate can be. Sadly, however, the majority of the book went along in a vein similar to the only slightly offensive (!) quote above, although I found that one to be the worst by far. It was almost repetitive, really – slurs just about every page, drugs and alcohol every second page, and references to “jerking off” at least once a paragraph (I feel like that’s only a little exaggeration). It was not my kind of thing at all, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so uncomfortable reading something in my life.
However, as much as I hated the language used, I did rather like the way in which Jude’s story was told, and seeing things through his eyes. Jude is all about the glamour and making it in Hollywood is his plan – so why not get practicing early and get used to your adoring fans?
“I started to walk off, and he skated after me. The others followed – I guess they wanted autographs too.”
The line, “Cinematography is so crucial”, found in the first chapter, although short, does a pretty good job at showing just how much it means to Jude – even the chapter titles take inspiration from cinematic terms. Often, it can be difficult to discern between what is real, and what isn’t, if we’re only seeing what Jude wants us to. In a way, though, I suppose we are, and although there are some moments where you wonder what’s even going on, I do quite like that way of writing.
Overall, this wasn’t my favourite book and I can’t imagine I’ll go back to it – perhaps if the language weren’t so crude, and certain parts not so rushed (taking the ending, for example), I may have enjoyed it more. As it is, I find it hard to believe that I could ever bring myself to recommend this book to anyone – unless you’re cool with homophobic language and frequent drug use. I’m glad it was a pretty short read (manageable in one sitting), but it was just too much for me and it took a while for me to be able to process and even start this review.