Title: Elimination Night
When books like this are written by “Anonymous” it feels exciting. I automatically think “what’s so scandalous that the author is afraid to put her name on?!” And of course if you’re anything like me that curiousity sends you between the covers lickety-split.
In this case the premise of the book is that it is a thinly-veiled roman ‘a clef about the behind the scenes world of American Idol. That veil is VERY thin with this book; in spots it’s entirely see through. Ryan Seacrest becomes ‘Wayne Shoreline”; that’s about the degree of creativity we’re dealing with here.
Since I haven’t really watched Idol in the last ten years, I had trouble deciphering some of the characters. It took me three pages to realise that Joey Lovecraft was Steven Tyler; half a page to suss out Bibi Vasquez as the alter ego of Jennifer Lopez. That right there is the most entertaining part of the book, trying to figure out who is allegorical with whom.
The rest of the book is an uneven journey. In places it’s over the top in so extreme a way that you feel you might be reading urban fantasy. When I read that Joey Lovecraft survived a parachute-less jump out of a plane over Manhattan, for instance, I don’t laugh. I just roll my eyes at the trying-too-hardness of it. In other places it’s downright insulting. One extended scene that ostensibly plays for comedy has the Steven Tyler character in nervous-breakdown mode because he is terrified of “midgets” after a bad acid trip at the circus. The word “midgets” is highly offensive to little people and its inclusion here does nothing to broaden the story but does everything to have me think far less of Anonymous. But it does get to the core of the book, which is that the author seems to think that as long as she’s funny, nothing else matters. Unfortunately she’s not that funny.
The book is narrated by a young woman named Sasha who is called “Bill” by everyone in the show since she’s filling in for her boss, Bill. She’s supposed to be the Everyman with a front-row seat to the Crazytown shenanigans, but she’s as uninteresting as any of the other characters and at times borders on outright unlikable. That leaves me as a reader with nobody to root for, which means the only reason to continue with the story is to get plummy gossip about the world of American Idol.
If you are a die-hard fan of American Idol or very into reality shows in general it’s possible that you may have a slightly more enjoyable reading experience simply because there are tidbits about the craft of making reality heightened for dramatic tension. The book won’t be any funnier, the characters won’t be any more likeable. But you’ll at least come away with some possibly passably interesting insights into how a karaoke competition becomes compelling television.