Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sugar High

I am an ardent fan of The Hills, as every member of my family now knows, as I have subjected them to MTV's Retro Brunch for essentially its entire run - at the gym, at home, even at other people's homes (think plant-watering and puppy-sitting, not breaking-and-entering) - and the episodes I haven't been able to see quite yet, number well past 30 on our DVR. Because I am such a huge fan of the show, I am also, as to be expected, a huge fan of Lauren Conrad, a.k.a She Who Can Do No Wrong (Except Say No to Paris). Therefore, being the book-lover and Lauren-enthusiast I am, it totally makes sense that I read her L.A. Candy seriesL.A. Candy, Sweet Little Lies, and Sugar and Spice - in three days, while on vacation. (It's totally normal.)

The series follows Jane Roberts, a sweet SoCal transplant into the L.A. scene, as an assistant at a premiere events planning firm, hoping to strike it big as an party coordinator for celebrities, as well as her best friend, Scarlett Harp, a bold, brainy bombshell with a mouth that could run a mile, as well as speak fluent French. Together, these two are velvet-roped into the glittering world of reality television by PopTV superstar Trevor Lord, who knows that they - along with socialite Madison Parker and dim-bulb beauty Gaby Garcia - would make the perfect combination to put him back on the celebrity map. Together, the girls fight and feud with not only each other, but abusive and unhealthy relationships, the machinations of a carefully-constructed business, and those pesky paparazzos, while figuring out that maybe L.A. isn't as sweet as it seems.

The element that first struck me about this book was the technicality of the descriptions of life on a TV show, with particular insight into the realm of reality television. Lauren herself explained, upon the publishing of the first novel, that such descriptions that especially drew my interest - of getting miked, staging shots, receiving direction off0camera, the veneer of artificiality that such shows projected mixed with the imperfections of reality - were basically straight out of her experiences with The Business.

The novels obviously drew comparisons to the show itself: before I had even finished the first book, I had already cast the novel in my head with people from the show, despite pesky details like personality incongruities or differing descriptions. The perky, optimistic, and fashion-savvy Jane Roberts was obviously Lauren Conrad, being the leader of the pack, despite the fact that the real woman never came off as self-doubting or, dare I say it, slightly vapid as Jane. It wasn't personal; it was that the script had changed, but the cast was pre-set, just because this was already territory we had tread with a specific set of people.

It also helped that the novels were, essentially, written for television. Descriptions of action and physical direction took up the space not filled by dialogue, diction was primarily basic language peppered with helpful technical descriptions of L.A. life and witty commentary, and most deeper feelings - when delved into at all - could be conveniently conveyed with the eyes or a smile... just like TV.

For me, this was perfect. It was a reality show airing in my head! Better yet, you could tell that was the intention: to not only give a show, but do so by exposing the show behind the show. If reality television really is as difficult a world as Conrad describes, I can't blame her for wanting to be at the helm; not as director or creator of a tough-to-wrangle world, but as author, where absolutely every element could be subject to her own direction.

For fans of Lauren Conrad, or similarly-minded stories from the West Coast's glittering city, this novel will definitely fill the gap left behind by the show, and maybe give a little more insight into what was really happening in those iconic Hollywood hills when the cameras stopped rolling.


  1. I've only ever seen one episode of The Hills, where Heidi and Spencer got married, and it took me five minutes to work out Spencer is an idiot.

    I can see why you like these novels, they seem like fun holiday reading, although I'm not sure I'd pick them up at any other time!


    1. You really called it: Spencer is, absolutely, an idiot. :) That's one of the most painful things about re-watching all of the episodes now... we already know how it ends, and know that it won't be pretty!

      The novels are absolutely light, fun summer reads. I actually don't know if I would have liked them in any other season!