Thursday, 14 May 2009

Loathing Lola / William Kostakis

Summary - Fifteen-year-old Courtney Marlow didn't exactly think it through. She thought the offer to have her life broadcast on national television was the perfect solution to her family's financial troubles.
She was wrong.
Mackenzie Dahl, the show’s producer, promised to show Australia a real teenager. Courtney was going to be a positive role model, someone on television without a boob job and an eating disorder.
Soon, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame via a little bit of Courtney – especially her conniving friend Katie, and her stepmother, Lola. And Courtney is just beginning to realise that ‘ordinary’ does not translate to ‘entertaining’…

Review - There are some authors that have a specific turn of phrase, rhythm and humour that appeal to me...William Kostakis is one of them. Unlike some YA authors, he's actually got his finger on the pulse of the teens that he's writing about as he's pretty much their age (19). He's not recollecting that time in his life, adding some modern vocab and pretending to know about the teens of today - he is the audience. I liked that, I liked it a lot.

That being said, it started off bumpy for me. The depiction of Chloe as the wannabe girlfriend of Courtney's deceased boyfriend unsettled me, primarily due to the that fact that she was overweight. Then I got over it when the characters begin a competition to out-mourn one another at a funeral. This book has a very healthy, snarky, sardonic sense of humour that appealed to me greatly - my blog's title is purposeful. Teens today are extremely jaded and both the humour and the voice of this novel was very true to the age group that it was depicting, while being accessible to those who aren't.

Kostakis' characters are all realistically flawed. It's these flaws, and that of the protagonist, that provide most of the basis of the insults that induced my too-loud cackling. What can I say? I have a mean sense of humour. Katie, a character that I loathed on sight, was one that flip flopped and had endeared me by the end. Jackson, an inclusion I was highly suspicious of, turned out to be not what I expected and Chloe, well she just cracked me up. All these characters, including Courtney, were highly identifiable, relatable and rounded. I do wish that Tim got a little more page time, as he's a character that I very much related to.

Loathing Lola has a cracking pace that feels feather light with the occasional king hit of a joke. While on the surface it may sound like it's a run of the mill, contemporary, teen dramedy, there are some great observations on the cost of fame, the basis of friendship and moving on (whether from grief, anger or guilt). Some elements I could see coming but there were story turns that I didn't anticipate, which really drew me into Courtney's life.

As a reality television addict, I really gelled with the use of it to further complicate a complicated teen's life. Courtney is a teen who wasn't ever going to confront her father about his mistreatment of his family and yet Real Teens created a great foil to push it to the fore. Loathing Lola is a great story with a relatable protagonist, snappy dialogue and a grasp on the random and ridiculous. Guaranteed to make you chuckle and ponder on the machinations of reality television!

Published: 2008
Format: Paperback,
Publisher: PanMacmillan
Origin: Australia
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William Kostakis' website
William's Twitter


prophecygirl said...

This sounds good! I'd never heard of it before you featured it in your IMM post, but now I'm quite interested to read it. I'll have to see if I can get a copy!

Steph Bowe said...

Great review!
I'm actually giving away two copies of this on my blog at the moment:


William Kostakis said...

Steph, way to shamelessly plug your site. Shoo!

Glad you liked it, Adele :-)

Steph Bowe said...

Another thing which I was going to ask earlier: Who was your favourite character, Adele?
I loved Katie.

William: I am excellent at blatant self-promotion. You only wish you were as shameless as me.

Adele said...

I really liked Ben lol! I totally meant Tim :P

Courtney was a great character that I really related to. I was never the trailblazer or delinquent, so Courtney's life (particularly the dad issues) struck a chord with me. Plus lil bro = Adele's little bro (except my bro nose is a little nicer)

William Kostakis said...

Gotta love my attempts at characterisation:

William's creative process:
"He needs a reason to be angsty and hate the world."
"Give him a whopper nose."
"Ah, William, you are a LITERARY GOD."
"I know."
"That doesn't change the fact that you're talking to yourself, though."
".... HURTFUL!"

Steph Bowe said...

I related to Tim. Except I don't have a crazy twin.
I always wanted one though.

William, you are a literary genius.

William Kostakis said...

... I prefer "literary god", frankly.

Thao said...

This one sounds nice and fun. Thanks to you, Adele, I found out a lot of books I'd be interested in but never ever knew before.

Summer said...

great review. been seeing this book around, seems good

H said...

A competition to out-mourn one another? That shouldn't make me laugh, but it does :)

Jen said...

Great clip too!

William Kostakis said...

Buy it and I'll love you all forever :)

@Jen thanks. Was shitscared for that interview, my first interview, and it was on camera :|