Monday 13 August 2012

Tuesday Thoughts: Mia Mania by Van Casey

Lyle Hall is a track star who's hopefully college bound. Mia Hampton is a TV star who's world famous. They seem to have little in common - but they're secretly in a relationship. When Lyle finds out from his best friends Bobby and Zibby that his supposedly virginal girlfriend has just been named by Perez Hilton as having a sex tape, he thinks he's going to lose his mind. Can it be true? Can their relationship be saved? And how can he concentrate on running the big race at the end of the week in the time he needs to impress a college scout?

The action here bounces around between different narrators, mainly from Lyle's point of view but also showing us events as seen by Bobby, Zibby, Mia, and her bodyguard. It took me by surprise at first as the first nine chapters are all narrated by Lyle and by that point I'd assumed the entire book would be, but the changes to other POVs work well and Casey gives them distinct voices which all sound authentic. Virtually all of the characters are very well-rounded - while someone eventually emerges as the villain of the piece, most of them are likeable despite having some significant flaws which make them believable.

As for the plot, it certainly has twists and turns! I managed to guess one or two in advance while others completely blindsided me but made sense looking back - it's very cleverly written and hugely enjoyable. Casey also manages to capture the atmosphere both in high school and in Hollywood really well, with all of the scenes having an authentic ring. The short chapters and punchy writing style make it easy to pick up for just a few minutes (although plenty of cliffhangers - especially when viewpoints are switched - mean it's significantly harder to put down when those minutes are up.)

It's not without its flaws - the ending seems rushed and the gay principal is rather a stereotypical character - but overall I'm really glad I read this one and will definitely be eagerly anticipating Casey's next book. If this was around the five pound mark, as many Kindle books are, I'd be happy to recommend it - for just 77p currently it's an absolute steal.

I should warn younger readers and/or their parents that there are quite a few references to sexual activity, boners, and so on, as you'd expect from the plot summary. Nothing particularly explicit and I'd be happy to give it to readers in their mid-teens personally - just providing the information.

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