Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Review: Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Move aside, Hannah Montana. Everybody wants more of Jenna and Jonah’s How to Be a Rock Star, a TV show about two neighbors’ undercover lives as rock stars. But it seems to be “Jenna” and “Jonah’s” off-screen romance that sells…except that in reality, the romance is a publicity ploy, and the two young stars, Charlie and Fielding, can’t stand each other. Fielding thinks Charlie is a Type-A diva who is obsessed with her own career, while Charlie thinks that Fielding takes the whole industry for granted.
But then their fauxmance is blown, and as Charlie and Fielding keep each other company in isolation, they begin to actually learn who the other person is.
I gave this book a try, despite its predictable synopsis, because, hey, who doesn’t enjoy a he-said/she-said formula romance every once in a while, if it’s done well? Unfortunately, JENNA AND JONAH’S FAUXMANCE was a solid miss for me. Clunky writing, undeveloped characters with minimal chemistry, and an ambitious but failed conclusion all contributed.
Let’s talk about the characters first. YA has seen its fair share of Hollywood teen divas. Charlie and Fielding failed at being distinct or memorable. Charlie is supposedly this uptight overachiever who, when relaxed, can be a lot of fun. But when she was relaxed in the book, she was flat and uninteresting, and the only time I felt like she had fun all happened in brief flashbacks. Fielding is an ordinary boy who hails from the Midwest, and who is only in this industry to make enough money so that he doesn’t have to work hard like his dad for the rest of his life and can enjoy his books in anonymity. Now, I like my boys smart, but again, Fielding’s bookishness didn’t ring true for me. The authors seemed to portray Fielding’s literary knowledge only in extremely awkward quotes that fell flat and didn’t lend to his bookish credibility at all.
In fact, that was probably the problem I had with the whole book. Tiny details were fine—Hollywood, Fielding’s bookishness, the Shakespearean performance—but they all lacked cohesiveness. Imagine two people having a conversation in which both just talked about their own interests instead of engaging in a flowing back-and-forth. That was kind of how I felt, reading Charlie and Fielding’s supposed get-to-know-ya interactions. Uh, whut? Fielding, are you really seeing who Charlie is, or are you still attempting to talk at your idea of who she is? That just…doesn’t work for me. The writing was jarring and off-putting.
I can think of better examples of Hollywood drama, he-said/she-said romances, or plots involving acting. JENNA AND JONAH’S FAUXMANCE didn’t have a bad premise, being what it intended to be, but little within the book had the seemingly effortless chemistry that I want in a good book.
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5
Cover discussion: 1.5 out of 5 - Oh please, do blind me some more with that drab shade of pink.
Walker Books / Feb. 1, 2011 / Paperback / 240pp. / $9.99
Sent by publisher for review after accepting review pitch.