Sunday, 26 May 2013

Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Title: You Look Different in Real Life
Author: Jennifer Castle
Release date: June 4th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 358

For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

You Look Different in Real Life is one hell of a ride! It's very different from anything I've read before, and I loved that. It's a beautiful story of friendship, courage, and finding yourself when you think you've lost your way. The premise of this book intrigued me ever since I first read it, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to read and review this. Because this one is a must-read, guys. It's inspirational and thought-provoking, but it's also fun and humourous. I lost myself in these pages for a few hours!

Justine isn't your average sixteen-year-old girl. She's a movie star. When she was just six years old, she was chosen, along with four others, to have her life documented on film. And from there rose the Five At franchise. Five at Six was the first movie she starred in with Felix, Nate, Rory and Keira, and it was followed by Five at Eleven. Now, five years later, the producers are back with a plan to make Five at Sixteen. But the kids aren't the same. They've drifted apart, and they're not who they used to be. Justine's not who she wanted to be at the age of sixteen. But she agrees to do the film, just as the others do. But they don't expect to go on a weekend camping trip, and little did they know that all the lies and secrets would come out during this life-changing weekend.

I find it really easy to relate to Justine. She's the same age as me, just trying to find her way in life, like everyone else her age. But she has a bigger responsibility. The responsibility to give the viewers what they want - the snarky and funny Justine that everyone met and fell in love with in the previous movies. Justine has changed, and she doesn't know if she can be that other Justine anymore. I really admired her character, though. Despite being naturally closed-off to people, especially her co-stars, she pushes herself to open up and to do things she's always wanted to and yet never had the courage to. She's determined, and incredibly strong. Justine is a natural leader, and I liked the way she takes charge in bad situations. I really think the others would be completely lost without her.

I also really loved Nate. Nate is the classic popular guy at the school, and he hasn't so much as looked at Justine, Felix and Rory for years, let alone talked to them. He is friends with Keira, though, and cares a lot for her. It's hard to picture the little boy Nate used to be - bullied and harassed cruelly, but still retaining his innocence.. and a love for rabbits. Nate's put all of that past him, and has built himself up to be someone who no one would even think of bullying. There is a bit of romance between Nate and Justine, but that comes towards the very end. Even though it was frustrating to see that they both wanted to make a move but held themselves back, I liked that for once, the romance wasn't part of the main story. This book focuses on the friendships made and broken between these five, the bond that will always be there between them.

Felix is the one person out of the five who is still close to Justine, and the two of them are inseparable. Even though Felix can be annoying at times, I did feel sorry for him when finding out his story. All his life, he's been in the background, and for once he just wanted the spotlight on him. But it comes at a price. Felix has got quite a few secrets he's kept buried inside, but I think it did him a lot of good when they came out.

I have to say I didn't like Rory much, but her naivety brought humour to the book. There was this one scene that made me burst out laughing - 
"If he's so rich, you'd think he'd have that growth on his eyebrow removed."
"That's not a growth, Rory," I heard Felix say as we shut the door. "It's a piercing."
She and Justine used to be best friends back then, but something changed since those years. Rory is a quiet girl, preferring to stick with her books rather than socialize, but even she makes herself come out of her shell at a point. And I found that quite admirable.

Keira is the most enigmatic of the five, and we don't get to see a lot of her in the book. But from what I've read of her, I'm definitely intrigued. She can be pretty mean, but she seems badass, and I guess I just developed a liking for her. I can't wait to read the novella Playing Keira to find out her story! I know it'll be just as fascinating as that of the others.

One aspect I really liked was the structure of the novel. Set in the present, there are constant flashbacks to when the five were kids. And those flashbacks are what tells us who these five used to be, and how much they've changed from those days. I looked forward to the flashback scenes, because I found it fun to compare their characters. But there's a lot of pain in them, too. There's nostalgia and sorrow, and I could tell how hard it was Justine, or Nate, or any of them, to remember what used to be.

This book doesn't deserve anything less than a full five stars. Such a touching story, full of emotions and longing. If this doesn't speak to you, I don't know what will. I'm so impressed with Jennifer Castle for writing this beauty, and I loved getting to know each and every one of the Five At stars.

*Thank you to Sarah at HarperCollins International for sending me an ARC for review*

Rating: 5/5

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