This clever comedy strands a starstruck girl on a deserted island with major celebrities.
Francesca, an aspiring writer who devours tabloid journalism by the ream, enters an essay contest and wins a trip to Africa to promote literacy. She quickly learns that, far from being a dream come true, her experience won’t be entirely pleasant. The party comprises two rival young actresses, both already fading from fame; the hottest, yet not-so-very-bright teen heartthrob of the day; a fatherly, also-fading actor who pilots the plane; the Christian rocker illegitimate son of the fatherly actor-pilot; a TMZ-like gay blogger; and Francesca, with her exploding red hair and freckles. The protagonist’s six egomaniacal companions prove mostly useless, starting with the fatherly actor who crashes their plane, neglects to send a distress message and lets their signal fire go out. With the only actual adult sunk in depression, the rest act out their jealousies on each other. Francesca copes by writing and stockpiling text messages to her best friend. The scenario makes for some marvelous dry humor, enhanced by Tanen’s ability to turn an original phrase: “OMG she was the size of a lima bean.” Yes, the characters learn some important and dramatic lessons and maturity happens, but the thrust of this book is comedy, and it scores.
A witty winner aimed straight at reality-TV fans. (Comedy adventure. 12 & up)