Wacky Wednesday: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

It feels nice to be reading again. Enjoy another book review!

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):

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.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.

  • Justine is a very complex MC who is clearly not perfect, and in an odd way, that makes her all the more likable. Perhaps it makes her easier to relate to.
  • The uncertainty of the ending. It doesn’t wrap up neatly into an ending storyline, in a way. All the characters have come so far, but have so much further to go. Leaving that open to interpretation makes this story beautiful because the characters’ stories are going to go on, and this installment is a continuation of two previous ones.
  • The basic premise. This book would be such a great movie. The author managed to execute this very visual story in a relatable way, which is a huge challenge, so kudos to her.
  • The fact that there was rock climbing in this novel is a huge plus. :)
  • Felix and Keira’s nationalities. It would’ve been nice to have their cultures play more into the story, but it’s a good start.
  • The characters are very dynamic, and it was very interesting to watch them all grow and change.

  • Felix having a secret was an interesting part of the story, but the content of it and the way it came out were not executed in the best way. It was impossible to foresee the secret, and while a good writer surprises their readers, it felt like there was a lack of buildup toward its release.
  • The way homosexuality was dealt with in the story felt like it was just inserted in there for the sake of having it mentioned rather than it being part of the characters’ lives. This is a pattern that happens in other YA novels as well. However, the inconclusiveness of what the character decides to do is nice, and refreshing and different.

  • Both of the other girls start off having issues with Justine. Although a lot of the book focuses on the renewal of Justine and Rory’s friendship, most of it feels like it focuses on her relationships with Nate and Felix, which made the book a little more romantic-based than need be.
  • Nate’s relationship with Justine. It kind of feels forced, and there’s something about its build up that’s a little off. The end result is fine, but the gradual steps to getting there jump too quickly. It might’ve been nicer to have a different relationship pan out while leaving Nate and Justine’s more hanging in the balance.
  • The writing wasn’t always as tight as it could’ve been. It wasn’t poorly written, but it also doesn’t really show off the author’s voice or come across as especially unique.
  • Some cliché phrases get said throughout the course of the novel, which makes it not as powerful as it could’ve been. There is a lot to think about and ponder upon reading it, but the cliché phrases make it harder to grasp despite overall big picture themes that aren’t as cliché.

Rating this one was tough, but I’ll give it 4 jellyfish. Many elements of it were great, but there’s something missing that can’t be pinpointed that doesn’t make this quite a 5-star novel.

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