Vanity, hate, envy, and a game not everyone is able to play or to understand – that´s what Unrivaled is about. A novel with a lot of unexpected twists and turns and characters who are as naïve as they are smart. This first book of the author´s new Beautiful Idols series doesn´t only come with a beautiful minimalistic cover design but an entertaining story, too. This book caught my attention when I was searching for the upcoming new programs the publishers were sending out towards the end of last year. The cover of the German edition (all black, but the rest is the same as the US original one) is not really my thing, way too dark, but the back text sounded promising and I always wanted to read an Alyson Noël novel. 

by Alyson Noël
Beautiful Idols #1
Publisher HarperCollins on May 10, 2016
Genre Young Adult
Pages 432
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher

Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter´s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic”. Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad´s life. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago. She´s Hollywood´s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone´s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel. That is, until Layla, Aster and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles´s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing … And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Layla wants nothing more than going to New York and study journalism. Her blog is her platform and with the acceptance of the school for journalism, she is one huge step closer to her dream. The only thing she needs now is money. And that she wants to gain in winning the competition Ira Redman, a rich club owner has offered. But she isn´t alone and each of her competitors has its own dream and reason why they want to win. So despite there are some rules, none of them seems to play by them and Ira himself controls everything. So the stakes are high, the price even higher and moral and empathy starts to fade – till the three of them find themselves in a murderous game and their life on the wire.

An invisible narrator tells the story of Layla, Aster, and Tommy. Each of them comes from a different world, has no clue how the world of the other ones really works, at least not when it comes to Aster, and yet they have no choice but to react in order to have a chance to win the competition. A competition so hard, full of envy and passion they can barely ignore that someone is obviously playing them. 

Alyson Noël has a clear and well-written writing style. Her language is straight, easy to understand and the reading speed is normal. You never know what´ll happen on the next page. Though I don´t consider this novel a typical page-turner. I had my pleasure reading it, yes, but I wasn´t haunted by it. 
No question, this novel is full of surprises, the end a cliffhanger I thought first was a joke, and I am still wondering what Ira is really up to – but my question where all this will lead is still unanswered. I hate that!

The setting in L.A. shows a world where not everything is as it seems. Hollywood has its own rules, and you either play by them or you don´t. And the author shows what happens when you do and when you don´t in a sometimes very cynical way. I liked her tone a lot, how she described things, scenes, and what the different figures were thinking. 

Madison is considered to be the most famous and most photographed woman on this planet, and for her fame means everything. That is, what she always wanted, desired, and what gives her the power and money to live the life she pleases. But her success comes with a prize. Her past is a well-hidden secret she does everything to protect and even the fact, that her relationship isn´t really a relationship but the result of a carefully organized marketing strategy, isn´t something she wants to change. Not, if she isn´t in control of how the change happens. But with Aster stepping into her life, things change, and so Madison plays her cards very carefully and shows once more what an outstanding actress she is.

Layla is the complete opposite of Madison. Pampering the rich and famous to get them to do what she wants and needs isn´t really her thing. But when she is forced to step into the game and play by its rules, she does and throws her own principles blunt said, out of her life. Who cares if she has some moral thoughts about how or if to use material she hasn´t gotten in a nice way, as long as revealing the dirty stuff on her blog gets her the money to go to New York. 

A nice to read a novel with some unexpected turns I didn´t see coming. Yes, I enjoyed reading it and recommend it to everyone who likes a good story with suspense elements and a figure you don´t know what he/she is up to. But I wasn´t totally haunted by it, though, I still consider this a reading pleasure.

Happy reading

*I read the German edition new release published on May 10, 2016, by HarperCollins Germany

Alyson Noël
Alyson Noel ©private

Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three novels, including the Immortals, Riley Bloom, and Soul Seekers series. With millions of copies in print, her books have been translated into thirty-six languages and have made numerous international bestseller lists. Born and raised in Orange County, California, she´s lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan and is now settled back in Southern California, where she´s working on her next book.


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