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Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, often hilarious, insider look at American Idol-type reality show, December 17, 2012
This review is from: Elimination Night: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As an aficionado of reality television, in all its silly manifestations, I have often wondered how the shows really work. What is real and what is scripted. How the contestants are chosen. What the crew really does. This funny and frank novel lets the reader in on what goes on behind the scenes during the troubled thirteenth season of a classic American competitive reality show.

Our heroine, Sasha, has taken a job as an assistant producer on "Project Icon." "Project Icon" is a singing competition which has a panel of three celebrity judges, cattle-call contestant rounds, a sleazy, well-groomed host and which eliminates final contestants by means of viewer call-in results -- sound familiar? Sasha's job as an assistant producer turns out to be a glorified low-level "go-fer" who isn't even important enough to be called by her correct name. (Everyone calls her "Bill," for perfectly legitimate reasons.) What Sasha really wants out of life is to write the "American Novel of Immense Profundity" (she has the first three sentences), and save up enough money to join her boyfriend on the beaches of Hawaii. What she gets is a manic year of dealing with the absurdity of the mammoth egos and power plays of studio bosses, horrid gossip columnists, the judges (one of whom is a paranoid movie star and another who is a aging rock legend), and a myriad of weird contestants looking for fame and fortune.

The book is not just fluff. The characters ring true. For instance, the rock legend, Joey, grows through the book from a cartoonish stereotype to a person who is relatable. The author shows his gumption at clawing his way to the top, and his determination to stay relevant. Joey isn't just sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll -- he is an aging star who craves adulation and admits to his many mistakes. The relationship which develops between Sasha and Joey is quite touching (it's not sexual.)

I loved this book. It's fun and funny. I have always wondered why there aren't more books written about the reality television experience - from all perspectives. One chapter in this book goes into the lengthy and weighty legal contracts everyone (from the judges to the employees to the contestants) signs, which might have something to do with why reality shows are steeped in so much mystery. One has to practically sign in blood to participate on any level. That also may be why this novel is written by Anonymous. But this anonymous author seems to know his/her stuff, and everything written here, (and there is some really outlandish stuff) rings true. If you have ever wondered if there is any "real" in reality television, here's your chance to find out.

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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 18, 2012, 12:36:50 PM PST
J. Silver says:
How did you get a copy to read if it hasn't been released?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012, 6:30:29 PM PST
J. Silva -- Thanks for your question. I'm a member of Amazon's Vine reviewers. Amazon picks a number of people from among its customers to receive free ARCs (Advance Review Copies) of books which have not been released to the general public yet. No one really knows how Amazon picks their Vine Reviewers, or how many of us there are. I have been a member of Vine since 2005, and the invitation email just showed up one day. I thought it was a hoax at first. I had already been reviewing books and products regularly, which might have had something to do with why I was chosen.

The way it works is that a list of "targeted" Amazon products -- mostly books, but some other stuff, too, like soft drinks, personal care products, computer software -- which is based upon the kind of stuff I order from Amazon, arrives every month. I can pick out up to two items from my list. I don't have to pick anything. If I do pick something, it is sent to me and I have to write a review about it. The following week, all the leftover stuff from everyone's targeted lists is "up for grabs" and a reviewer can choose two more items. You have to keep up with your reviews, and you have to agree to keep whatever you take (no selling it on eBay.)

I have gotten comments in the past saying that since I get this stuff for free that I must be writing good reviews, regardless of what i really think. But that is absolutely not true. I have written plenty of one and two star-reviews for products which I didn't like, or books which I thought were not up to my standards. I always give my honest opinion, and Amazon must be satisfied because I have been in their program for a long time.

I hope that answers your question. BTW, I think that there are other places which offer books in exchange for reviews. I think you can google it. And for a long time I was on a reviewer site for Coca-Cola which offered Amazon coupons in return for reviews of store displays, promotions (mostly at Wal-Mart and Target) and advertising on Coke products. But I found that to be a lot of work when I had small children, so I quit doing that.

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