4 out of 4 stars
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Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks is a surprisingly amazing book for young adults. It is relatable, thought out, well-written, and an absolute page-turner.
All teenagers go through a phase when they feel like they don’t fit in. Some emerge as leaders and trendsetters, but most feel like outcasts. Riley felt like an outcast. An unfortunate situation at school left her suspended and the butt of online jokes. All attempts at fixing her reputation just made it worse. She lost her friends, was forced to be homeschooled, and her relationship with her parents was becoming more and more strained. So, when the opportunity to join a reality show similar to Survivor presented itself, she jumped at the chance to show the world who she really was, especially since the show was to be filmed on an island well-known for hidden treasure. Her godfather had died searching for this treasure, and she already had many of the clues.
Twenty teenagers between the ages of seventeen and eighteen are flown to a set of islands in Brazil. They are broken into two teams that will compete in challenges. At the end of each challenge, players vote on who will be eliminated and sent home. In their spare time they are encouraged to search for the treasure. Riley quickly realizes these shows are not what they seem. There are so many crew members, and cameras are constantly in your face. Privacy is hard to come by, and people aren’t always as they seem. Mysterious things are also happening, including cameras being damaged and equipment going missing. Is it because of the alleged curse on the island or is someone intentionally sabotaging the show?
With so many characters in this story, I thought it would be hard to keep everyone straight, but Brooks does a great job of creating unique and memorable characters. We learn a little about everyone while still recognizing the emphasis on certain people. Each character develops based on his or her circumstances, and I feel the progression and growth seem natural. The camaraderie of shared experiences leads to unexpected friendships.
There is an element of mystery throughout the book that was very unexpected. Once you realize that someone is potentially ruining things around the island, you start trying to put things together based on the clues the author has already set out. You wonder if things like food poisoning happened naturally or if someone made everyone sick on purpose. I found myself pointing fingers and contemplating motives. It was so satisfying when the answer was revealed. All the clues added up without the result being too obvious. Brooks planned it out perfectly.
I found a few mistakes, but they were few and far between. I feel this book was professionally edited and well-organized. I liked the added map and picture at the beginning of the book. The descriptions of these in the text were sufficient, but seeing them for myself helped me better understand the difficulties of treasure-map decoding. There isn’t anything I could suggest to make this book better. I absolutely loved it!
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this to readers ages fifteen and up. There is some underage drinking and talk of sexual situations, but otherwise nothing inappropriate or graphic. This book has romance, drama, mystery, adventure, and a little comedy so I feel there’s something for everyone within these pages. I cannot wait for Tiffany Brooks’s next book!
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