(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
“If you live courageously, you have scars.” -Beth, Starlet’s Man
From the award-winning author of the Starlet Series, comes Starlet’s Man, a story about a boy becoming a man amidst the mixed-messages in Hollywood culture. Discover why the Starlet Series took Gold and Silver medals in the Readers’ Choice 2014 International Book Award Contest.
Lights, Cameras, and Lies. High school student athlete, Manny Biro, is caught between the boy he should be and the man he wants to become.
Everyone around him accepts the Hollywood life. He doesn’t. Manny wants no part of acting. On the surface, his childhood best friends seem to have it all: money, power, success. Between the lines, they are all confused. Alan is a messed up want-to-be director focused on pushing scenes to their sexy potential. Beth is an athlete driven to escape from a dark past. Janet is Manny’s kid sister caught up in fashion and trends. And Marie is a lonely actress exhausted by the culture that makes everyone’s favorite stories.
[Full disclosure: I received a free paperback in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
One of the things I really didn’t like about Manny in the beginning of the first book (this is a prequel) was his self-righteousness. He criticized everything about Hollywood but proceeded to act like he was a part of that culture by fooling around with different girls and such. I wasn’t really sold on him being Lia’s love interest at first but he did grow on me as the books went along. However, in this prequel we get a really good look into his mindset while he was transitioning from boy to man
In the beginning, Manny is a pretty confused young man. He sort of likes his friend Beth, who he trains with in the mornings. At the same time, Liana Marie will always hold a special place in his heart even though she seems to be in love with her current costar Evan. And all of this takes place in a catty environment where publicity is more important than doing what you actually feel like so even if he and Liana finally admitted their feelings for each other, Lia’s bosses would not be happy with her dating a no-name. This, understandably, puts Manny in a very brooding mindset and leads to some of the stupid decisions I’ve alluded to as well as some of his hypocritical self-righteousness. Do I particularly like him at this point in his life? No, but he is an interesting character and it really does make me appreciate how much he’s changed by the second and third books in the series.
My only real complaint about this prequel is that the plot is a little disjointed. Sometimes it feels like there are random scene changes that I had a hard time keeping up with and it certainly wasn’t because of formatting issues or anything like that. I think that sometimes Carla Hanna pared down her writing a little too much and should have left in some more descriptions of the different locations and the transitions between locations. It does make for a fast read but I really would have appreciated a little more description so I wouldn’t have to deal with the occasional confusion.
The plot, however, is pretty good. It starts out with Manny learning about the kerfuffle over Lia’s last movie and it goes through her filming of Constantine’s Muse and all the screwed up things that come along with it as I saw from her perspective in Starlet’s Web. Her trials and tribulations are always at the forefront of Manny’s mind but he has his own things to worry about: money, Alan’s gossip blog spreading lies about his love life and his growing willingness to admit to Lia that he really does love her. It’s by no means a straightforward journey but that’s probably in part why I loved Starlet’s Man so much. Life isn’t a straightforward plot line and neither is this book. Manny has his ups and downs but finally comes through as a caring young man who is no longer the messed-up, self-righteous boy we meet in the beginning. It’s a satsifying journey.
Since this is a prequel you can absolutely read it before you read the main series but as a matter of personal preference I’d recommend reading Starlet’s Web first because I just like Liana more as a character. Manny is interesting enough and grew to be a better person, but being introduced to his self-righteous younger self so soon could turn you off a wonderful series. But if you like reading the prequels first, go ahead! This is a good book.
I give this book 4/5 stars.