In this companion to Love, Life, and the List (2018), Lacey Barnes, 17, gets a shot at stardom when she’s cast as the female lead in an indie film.
OK, it’s a zombie movie, but Lacey’s co-star is Grant James, 19, a genuine action-hero star who’s been looking for redemption since vicious reviews of his last film went viral. Lacey knows she’s lucky to get this opportunity, even if it means leaving her Central Coast home, friends, and school to live with her father in his cramped, two-bedroom apartment. He’s even hired a straight-laced peer tutor, Donavan Lake, to see she does her independent-study homework. More challenges await on the set, especially the absence of chemistry between her and Grant (Lacey’s zombie makeup doesn’t help). Co-star Amanda plays coach, telling her to imagine she’s kissing a guy she likes, difficult for the career-driven Lacey until she realizes she’s attracted to Donavan. Mishaps on the set proliferate until Lacey suspects sabotage, although the target is unclear—is it Lacey or the entire enterprise? The snippets of screenplay provided, too blunt and juvenile for satire, are wince-inducing misfires, as is a climactic scene in which journalistic ethics are casually thrown under the bus. While far-fetched plotting occasionally weakens narrative plausibility, the lively, likable characters—Lacey especially—sustain reader interest. Amanda has dark skin, and the other main characters are white.
Lightweight fluff, a virtual beach read for cold days and long nights. (Romance. 12-16)