Review: L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad

L.A. CandyJane Roberts and Scarlett Harp, best friends since grade school, are rooming together in L.A.; Jane is an intern for the famous and infamous event planner, Fiona Chen, and Scarlett’s starting her first semester at USC. While at a local nightclub hotspot, they’re spotted by reality TV producer Trevor Lord, who signs them up to star in his next big reality hit, L.A. Candy, along with heiress Madison and the somewhat ditzy Gaby.

Jane soon finds herself right in the middle of the spotlight as L.A. Candy explodes onto the reality TV scene. She’s a star, now, and getting the celebrity treatment from everyone. The problem? As Jane will discover, celebrity status isn’t always fun and games.

Sounds pretty good, right?

If it weren’t for one big thing, I’d probably be writing something like “A fast, easy read. While the characters tend toward stereotypes, the behind-the-scenes look at reality television is interesting. The storyline picks up pace midway through the book, propelling the reader to a satisfying …”

And that’s the problem. You see, I can’t write that the reader is propelled to a satisfying ending.

The thing is, L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad, doesn’t have an ending.

I was rather stunned when I read the last line of the last paragraph and realized there were no more pages to come. In fact, I even went to Amazon, and typed in a sentence from the last paragraph into the “Search inside this book” feature, because I had the vague notion that, perhaps, a few chapters were missing from the end of my copy of the book.

Unfortunately, there were no missing chapters. That was the ending. Or rather, non-ending.

As a reader, I really dislike cliffhanger endings. There’s just something annoying about investing all that time into reading a novel, only to find out you’re not going to be told how things end, not until the next book in the series.

Still, some cliffhanger endings do work; usually, the characters resolve the main storyline, the situation that’s driven them for most of the novel, and then the author slips in a little something extra, leaving everything up in the air again. That’s not the case here. In L.A. Candy, nothing is resolved.

Cliffhangers also generally involve something major. You know, like maybe the fate of the world is hanging in the balance. Big stuff like that. In this particular cliffhanger, though, what’s hanging in the balance doesn’t come anywhere near the fate of the world (well, except maybe to Jane). As a reader, I just didn’t feel that invested in Jane and her story for a cliffhanger ending to work for me.

L.A. Candy is the first book in what looks to be a three-book series. And yes, if it had been titled L.A. Candy, Part I, I wouldn’t have liked the cliffhanger ending any better, but I would have at least been prepared for it. In this case, for me that element of surprise most certainly did not work to the book’s advantage.

The Rest of This Review

Leaving aside my antipathy for cliffhanger endings, and understanding that not every reader shares this dislike, here’s the rest of my review, in list format:

  1. Jane Roberts is, as her name indicates, the average girl next door. The problem I had with her was that she was just a little too bland. I do understand that TV viewers always love the girl next door, but as a reader, I would have liked a little bit more.
  2. On the other hand, I loved Scarlett Harp, Jane’s brainy and gorgeous friend. I found myself wishing she had a larger role in the book.
  3. Being in a reality TV show is definitely not all fun and games. I thought the book did a pretty good job of showing a behind-the-scenes look at how it would feel to be a reality TV star.
  4. Conflict isn’t introduced until midway through the novel, which is probably a little late in the game; however, I found the glimpse into the making of a reality TV show, which takes up most of the first half of the novel, interesting enough to compensate for the lack of conflict initially.
  5. Once the hint of conflict was introduced, you could pretty well see the shape and form it would take from a mile away; still, it had me reading quickly to see how things would go. Until that non-ending, of course. But wait. I said I wasn’t going to talk about that here, didn’t I?

All in all, this would have been a light, easy read, perfect for the beach, if it weren’t for the cliffhanger ending. On the other hand, I am, obviously, not the target market for this novel. With this in mind, I’ve given my copy of L.A. Candy to a friend of my daughter who is 16, an avid reader, and also happens to watch The Hills – in other words, solidly within the target market. I’ll be interested to see what she thinks.

Where to buy L.A. Candy:

U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by Harper Teen, 2009, ARC, 326 pages

21 thoughts on “Review: L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad

  1. heidenkind

    Uhg, I hate that–when a book or a movie ends and you’re like, “That’s the end?!” I think even books with a cliffhanger have to leave the reading with the same story arc of climax and denoumet at the end.
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..The Silver Metal Lover =-.

    Reply
  2. Pam

    Oh, man, I really wanted this to be good. I guess I’ll pass. I am an otherwise reality-tv free, tomboy but I do love a little Lauren Conrad every now and then. I was hoping I could get my fix via books thus making it somewhat redeeming. Oh, well…thanks for the good review, though!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..The Girl Who Played with Fire ~ Stieg Larsson =-.

    Reply
  3. Nymeth

    Cliffhangers can drive me crazy, but if the story is really really good I sometimes don’t resent them – as with Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy. Books 1 and 2 both end with cliffhangers, but I’m too in love with the story to be put off.
    .-= Nymeth´s last blog ..The contents of my desk =-.

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  4. Pingback: So, Where Did I Get The Last 20 Books I Reviewed? - Ms. Bookish

  5. Natally

    i hate cliffhangers! but when i finished the book and couldnt wait to hear if she was going to come out with another one!! i love lauren conrad she is soo awesome! but still i hate cliffhangers! it can drive me insane!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  6. Kari

    I’m glad you linked this review on your BBAW post, because I’ve been wanting to read a review about it. I mean, I have my guilty pleasures and am not ashamed to admit my love for Zac Efron and the Disney Channel…but I don’t think I can ever admit a love for MTV “reality TV.” I called Laguna Beach a guilty-pleasure back in the day, but after a couple seasons, it just got too ridiculous, too cringe-worthy.

    Also, don’t you love how the font size of ‘Lauren Conrad’ far surpasses the size of the book’s title? Ah, marketing.
    .-= Kari´s last blog ..Review: Everything that rises must converge =-.

    Reply
  7. stacy rios

    Omg i just finished reading the book today and im not happy at all
    due to the ending i expected jane and braden to hook up and date but no….
    madison took jane away to mexico…
    ill just have to wait until the 2nd book comes out in feb!

    Reply
  8. nikki

    I also thought when I finished the book that I somehow got a defective book and was missing out on a few more chapters, when I realized that wasn’t the case I was pissed that I spent time even reading the book, I also didn’t know this book was a series.. so I guess the ending makes sense but still a terrible ending

    Reply
  9. Lilly

    it’s a trilogy. this is only the first one, that’s why it ended how it did. sweet little lies in now out if you want to know the rest!

    Reply
  10. Stacie

    I was listening to this book on tape and it totally just ended. I didn’t understand what had happened and thought that maybe I was missing part of the book on this tape, which is why I decided to google how the book ended and was happy to find this review. It was a disappointment to find that as soon as the book started getting good it just ended.

    Reply
  11. Lisa

    I’ve read the book, and yes there’s a cliffhanger, but besides that the book is awesome..why should a cliffhanger stop you from reading it? it should make you wanna read it more, and look forward to the coming books. It gives you a look inside Lauren’s life, and what she had to go through. It’s an amazing novel. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    Reply
  12. alanah

    I personally think your comments towards the book are more then wrong! This was a sensational hit for a novel that was released from a reality t.v host. I think you should be less harsh on your thoughts about the book and actually think out side the box. This book wasn’t made to be a success it was published so you can understand reality! Reality is more then what you think. Expressing about what you felt and what really happens in the real world actually makes you want to think twice. I think being critical about the book and its worthless ending wasn’t the message this book put out. This book might be called a novel but really it is based on true facts but simply made up. Instead of being so critical in life you should actually take a moment and think this book was meant to teach something that people cant see. Facts that are true about life! Jealousy, love, friendships and family and what happens to fame behind close doors. I think its time to stop readying books that have simple endings and start reading facts that actually happen in a real society.

    Reply
  13. Elise

    The book is good, it’s really good! Well, yes, the ending isn’t an ending, but the book is so good that you WANT to read the second one. Plus the books are very easily read, so when you’re finished with the second one you’re just dying to read the third. It’s so worth it!

    Reply

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