Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: Hollywood is Like High School WIth Money by Zoey Dean

Review of Hollywood is Like High School with Money
by Zoey Dean


Taylor Henning started her dream job at a major Hollywood studio. For as long as she can remember, Taylor has loved movies. The reclusive director Michael Deming and his seminal work Journal Girl have been a particular inspiration for Taylor. Although she's never received a response, Taylor sends Deming updates on her Hollywood experience.

Taylor soon finds that life as a second assistant involves small tasks and not the selection and producing of "great films," at least to start. But more than the type of work, it's her co-workers that make Taylor miserable. It's like high school all over with the popular girls and their mean tricks. Taylor's too much of a nice girl to acclimatize. Outwitted one too many times by first assistant Kylie and with her job at risk, Taylor asks Quinn, her boss's popular teenage daughter, for tactical advice. It's not about being mean. It's about being confident. Not taking anyone's shit...Fake it till you make it...Speak up in class. When you're quiet, you're invisible...Make 1 cool friend...Lunch is a battleground...Enlist a faithful assistant. Taking Quinn's advice, Taylor wins victories against Kylie.

As Taylor starts to come into her own, a creative executive position opens up. Competing against Kylie and the other assistants for the promotion, Taylor proves willing to use darker methods to advance.


Hollywood is Like High School With Money is the first Zoey Dean novel that I've read. Though the plot seems straightforward and predictable, Zoey Dean sets up the conflicts wonderfully. It may be that I'm inured to violence and too sensitive to female bullying, but when I got to where Kylie was setting the first trap for Taylor, I found the tension unbearable. I had to pause, put the book down, and come back to it. After that break from the book, I couldn't put it down. When Taylor seemed naive and too trusting, Dean gave her enough wit to make her likable. As Taylor grew accustomed to manipulation and was veering to the dark side, I still cared about her.

Overall, Hollywood is Like High School With Money is a light, satisfying read. I highly recommend it as a fun escape.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 23, 2009), 288 pages.

Courtesy of Hatchette Books Group.

Thank you so much Miriam and Hatchette Books Group for this opportunity!

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