Jospehine Foster, also called Zo Jo in the paparazzi business, is one of the best in the field. It helps that she’s sixteen, cute as a button, and really tiny. When she’s sent on an undercover assignment to get pictures of teen heartthrob Ned Hartnett at a rehab facility, Jo struggles with right and wrong for the first time. The money is good, though–it’ll be enough for her to attend photography school–but then she starts to fall for Ned, and everything changes.
Lately, it feels like I’ve been reading a slew of cute, fluffy YA romances. This one fits the bill as well. Rushby’s latest romantic comedy about paparazzi, celebrities, and the craziness of fame is cute, frothy, and ultimately pretty forgettable.
The character of Jo herself is fairly well-drawn for a novel such as this. She’s smart and focused and has actual hobbies and personality quirks. Although Rushby hints at the larger issues in Jo’s life–being biracial, having an absent mother and father–the novel chooses to largely ignore the heavier stuff in favor of the light stuff that readers find so entertaining.
Make no mistake about it: the novel is plenty entertaining. Focusing on America’s obsession with celebrity allows Rushby to mine all sorts of plot points. Setting the majority of the novel at a rehabilitation/retreat center allows for the characters to be thrown together in strange situations. It’s a fun, quick read, to be sure.
The problem is that Jo is the only developed character. Virtually every other character in the story is totally flat. Even the dreamboat Ned could put even the most caffeinated teen to sleep. There’s no substance in any of the supporting characters, and the story suffers as a result.
Despite straining plausibility at times (Dissapearing Parent Syndrome is well in place here), the novel offers a fun glimpse into the world of celebrity. The book will appeal to teens who devour the tabloid magazines every week. Shooting Stars is out today.
Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby. Bloomsbury: 2012. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.