Published by Dunemere Books
Published on 22 May 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, Young Adult
Source: Dunemere Books
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“There are only two ways to survive Internet infamy: drop offline and play dead or give everyone something bigger and better to talk about. I’ve tried the first strategy. Now it’s time to try the second…” A year and a lifetime ago, Riley Ozaki was just an ordinary high school junior in San Francisco, stressing over boys and grades. But an ill-conceived editorial in her school paper brought her an internet avalanche of public-shaming and ruined her life. Now Riley’s on a helicopter dropping into a deserted island with nineteen other teens, to star in a reality show that will be her redemption. She has no other choice. National attention was what got her into this mess, and only the same level of exposure can get her out. Besides, Riley has a few tricks up her sleeve. With a cast of vivid characters who will stop at nothing to win the show, a cursed island setting, and a priceless treasure waiting to be discovered, Reality Gold will drop readers right into a scheming web of lies, love, and betrayal.
I received a copy of this book from Dunemere Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In Reality Gold, Riley Ozaki’s grand plan to shift negative social media publicity off her and change Google’s first result on her from ‘spoiled rich girl’ revolves around taking part in a reality TV show competition similar to Survivor with 19 other teenagers, but she’s secretly there to look for ancient buried treasure.
One of the problems when trying to review a book that you think is technically flawless is that it’s so much easier to write about what you didn’t like than what you did.
I think Reality Gold was, for me, technically flawless.
A strong, capable yet vulnerable (not in a wimpy way, what I mean is that she had an exploitable weakness, she’s not a Mary Sue) female lead, interesting and mostly well-developed co-stars, a solid plot, with intrigue, mystery, and sabotage, a great setting, a smatter of romance that doesn’t turn into half of the plot… just generally a really well-written book.
I enjoyed Riley’s very typical teenage girl attitude to the boy she immediately takes a shine to, trying to talk herself out of fancying him, actively deciding to go with her allies to protect them rather than chase after him. Her attitude to the girls was really good too, I liked her moments with unpredictable Maren and the sweet moments with Willa, showing desperately lonely Riley that she could make friends after her scandal. Riley was smart, capable, prepared, insightful, and honest. She’s not quick to trust any of the other competitors, even though she has to work with them. She’s not and ideal version of some kick-ass character, though, she does have issues with her confidence. She prefers to stay on the sidelines and observe people, and that made her interesting and showed how clever she was.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: insta-love is not being able to identify the object of one’s attention. Insta-love is not the first inklings of interest, or maybe the first smatterings of a crush, the desire t spend more time with someone. Insta-love is the over the top declaration that after two days one can’t live without the other. I can safely say that yes, although friendship-starved Riley does develop a love interest, it’s in no way insta-love, and she is very much aware of her own stupid feelings, and even chooses the welfare of others over building her social currency to impress the boy she fancies.
I really love behind-the-scenes documentaries of films and my favourite TV shows, so I enjoyed this look at what it took to produce this first-time treasure-hunter themed reality TV show contest. There was a lot of drama on set, and sometimes it seemed like the challenges were almost forgotten about in the excitement of treasure hunting and trying to keep secrets from the producers. I used to watch reality shows, but I stopped because of the extend of manipulating by the show’s producers, and this is demonstrated really well in Reality Gold where the kids are instructed to fake their enthusiasm and the host has to do multiple takes to get something right.
I liked how almost every kid in the cast of 20 contestants had their own background and reason for coming on the show. Sure, some of them are voted off early and we don’t get to know them, but it’s pretty easy to guess from the opening couple of chapters who will stay behind the longest.
One thing I was slightly disappointed about was View Spoiler » that I’m pretty sure we never found out if someone was breaking into Riley’s safe and draining her satellite battery. I was sure one of the crew was overriding the fingerprint scanner and deliberately draining the battery, because every time Riley used it, she noticed the battery was draining much faster than it should be and she was going to leave negative feedback in her review of the tech. However I’m pretty sure I didn’t skip over any explanation, and we also never found out who stole an important item from someone else’s safe. « Hide Spoiler
I think if you’ve enjoyed watching trashy reality TV contests and like reading YA novels, you’ll probably enjoy this one, as I did.