Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Review - Hollywood Ending / Kathy Charles

Summary - Set in a glamorous and seedy Los Angeles, Hollywood Ending is a story that will make your heart skip a beat.

Pink-haired Hilda and endearing punk Benji, both seventeen, have an obsessive hobby—they haunt the places where Hollywood celebrities have died.

In rundown Echo Park, once the hub of the movie business, they find the squalid apartment where a second-rate silent movie star stabbed himself to death with nail scissors. Its current tenant is Hank, an old man with a mysterious past.

While Benji dives deeper into the cult of celebrity death, Hank and Hilda make an unlikely pair. Then Jake the screenwriter turns up. What’s his story?

Review - If I had to summarise this book in one word it would definitely be ‘seedy’. I would use ‘dark’ but the ever increasing Harry Potter movie franchise seems to have a monopoly on that term. There isn’t anything cuddly or comforting about this book. Instead there is a wonderfully crafted tale of friendship. A friendship established between a dead-obsessed teen and a cantankerous senior citizen.

Hollywood Ending is not what you expect to see within the YA genre by any means. It tackles some grim subject matter - grief, death, murder, obsession, fixation and guilt. The pink haired protagonist, Hilda, haunts famous murder scenes as a means to process her own parent’s death and has a friend whose predilections for death are more frightening. Despite the outer wrapping of grime, at its heart Hollywood Ending is about finding the light in all that pollutes our surroundings and our hearts. New people in our lives can allow us to process some of the harder aspects of our personal histories.

Centred on dingy Hollywood, many sites of homicides are incorporated into the plot. You will find yourself curious about these murders (that the author has verified) just as the protagonist is. Hilda’s journey is rather intoxicating as she bonds with the elderly Hank, who has secrets of his own and Jake, the screenwriter who’s rather secretive also. Secrets drive this novel, whether it’s the ugly truths the characters are holding onto with an icy grip or those that have seeped into the building of Hollywood. You will find yourself captivated.

Charles has debuted with a fantastically strong and unique story. The use of Hollywood history, the sadness that underpins the towns and the shadows that cling to all of the characters within this tale. You may be repulsed by some of the choices made but they are made increasingly understandable as the tale unfurls. A smashing good read.

Published: 31 August 2009
Format: Paperback, pages
Publisher: Text Publishing
Origin: Australia
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Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds like an amazing read!

Eleni said...

Nice review, the cover is awesome!

Leanne said...

I also really liked this book. I thought there was such a great brooding creepiness about it...Strong characters and great dialogue.

Thao said...

I really want to read this book. Ever since I saw it on your blog I couldn't but wish to have a copy right away ^^

Thao said...

I really want to read this book. Ever since I saw it on your blog I couldn't but wish to have a copy right away ^^

The Book Owl said...

This looks really interesting. I'll have to check it out.

Unknown said...

Another great review and book I need to get. I used to live near Echo Park; very cool place, and it sounds like its seediness has been effectively brought to life and immortalized.

Kathy Charles said...

Hey guys! Thanks for the enthusiastic comments. If you'd like to find out how to win a signed copy of Hollywood Ending head over to my blog at Cheers!

Diana Dang said...

Fantastic review! :D