Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Reality Boy – A.S. King


Reality Boy – A.S. King


Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. 
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap . . . and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.


Review: Teenager Gerald Faust has always been angry. The biggest source of his rage is his older sister, who gets all of the attention from his parents and whose psychopathic ways are overlooked by them. As a young child, Gerald took out his frustration by “crapping.” Basically, he defecated everywhere: on the kitchen table, in his mother’s shoes, on beds, anyplace that would get him attention. Gerald and his siblings’ behavior was so bad that his parents called in a reality TV show nanny. Gerald “The Crapper” became an overnight celebrity, and twelve years later, he’s still dealing with the fallout.

“Dating isn't good for Gerald Faust because everyone knows his secrets. 
And everyone has psychoanalyzed him. 
And everyone knows what his problem is. 
And everyone knows he has baggage. 
And everyone thinks they know how to help him. 
Because everyone believes what they see on TV. 
Because no one has realized yet that it's all full of shit.” - Reality Boy

Reality Boy is a uniquely modern book. In the history of the media, reality TV is a recent development. Many families have put themselves on television without knowing the long-term effects that it would have on their children. Even after the show is over, those children’s mistakes will live on forever through the magic of the Internet. Reality Boy is a fascinating book because it examines problems that we are just beginning to understand.

For all of those people who’ve been telling me to read an A.S. King novel, you were right, I liked her writing style. The writing in this book is an entertaining blend of humor, weirdness, and realism. The teenagers actually speak like teenagers. The story is full of swear words and insecure people who rarely say everything they want to say.

My favorite parts of this book are the flashbacks to the time that Gerald’s family spent making the TV program. Those scenes are hilarious and devastating. I love that the author shows the “reality” of reality TV. Gerald’s family calls the nanny program because they desperately need help, but the TV crew manipulates and uses them. They only care about creating entertaining television.

“Maybe most other people are messed up, too. It just wasn't aired on TV.” – Reality Boy

I actually think I would have liked this book more if I had read it when I was a teenager. As an adult, I had a hard time connecting to Gerald and his “My life is the worst thing ever” attitude. He does have a sucky home life, but he brings a lot of misery on himself by obsessing over it. I think I would have liked this book more if I was a teenager because I thought I had a horrible life when I was Gerald’s age. His angst probably wouldn’t have bothered teenage-me at all.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. After I finished the book, the only thing I remembered about Hannah (I had to look up her name just now) is that she likes fish. The romance doesn’t offer anything that I haven’t seen in a hundred other YA books.

Reality Boy is an examination of modern culture. It’s about dysfunctional families, narcissism, untreated mental illness, and the media’s manipulation of information. It’s also about forgiveness and learning to take control of your life. It definitely won’t be my last A.S. King book.  






5 comments:

  1. Yay! I love A. S. King, and I loved this book (although I agree about the romance thing). I just, like five minutes ago, recommended her to a counselor at my middle school specifically because she captures the teen voice so well. She's like my age, and I don't know how she does it. I'm working on I Crawl Through It right now, and it's by far the weirdest of her books i've read. I think Everybody Sees the Ants and Glory O'Brian's History of the Future are my other favorites of hers.

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  2. This sounds so interesting! I love that you always introduce me to books I never would've noticed otherwise. I've never read anything by this author, but I do think I might enjoy this, although I may also have an issue with the "woe is me" attitude of the teenage protagonist. :/ I'm glad you enjoyed it though! Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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  3. I have never heard of this author or the book but the concept is awesome. I am kind of obsessed with reality TV and the idea of how it affects the kids that are subjected to it is really interesting. I will have to add this one to me list!! Great review!

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  4. I am a HUGE A.S. King fan, so I am glad to hear that you want to read more of her work! I kind of worry about this one for the reasons you mention- that maybe I am in too old a headspace to really sympathize? But I think I want to give it a shot, because frankly, that premise is so crazy unique! So even if I don't LOVE this kid, at least the story is cool ;) Great review!

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  5. I really enjoyed this book, and it resulted in me reading two of King's other books. I really loved Please Ignore Vera Dietz. It's been a couple years since I read this book, so the details are kind of fuzzy. Lovely review! :)

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