Jan 15, 2011

Review: After the Break by Penny Smith

Title: After the Break
Author: Penny Smith
Publication Year: 2009
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Katie Fisher, former breakfast TV star is a little down in the dumps. She may be dating drop-dead gorgeous Adam but her career has screeched to a halt, and there seems to be no light, at the end of the tunnel. But then she gets a call from Celebrity X-Treme, TV’s reality show, where ten washed-up celebs try desperately to revive their careers in a freezing Norwegian cabin. Scheming producers, ratings-crazed directors, a Page-3 model, an out-of-work soap actor and some woman who had an affair with a politician. What could possibly go wrong?

My two cents: I started reading this book without having read the author’s first book, 'Coming Up Next' which features the same heroine, Katie Fisher. Getting into it wasn’t difficult even without reading the first book. It certainly can be read as standalone. Events previously happened in Katie’s life were well-explained which served as well to avoid any confusion which might arise from not reading the first book.

To be honest, I enjoyed this book though there are a few minus points. Katie was described as obsessed with words and language. She would utter big words and play around with the language at the most random of times. It was funny and witty at some times and at other times, it was just plain confusing. There were a few phrases which I didn’t really get but I decided not to dwell on since they didn’t really have any significance to the storyline. It was repeatedly stated in the book that Katie thought of herself as funny when in reality, she really was not. Hence, all those lines which sometimes didn’t make sense (or at least to me, they didn’t). I read that Penny Smith herself is a newsreader. I actually wonder if she based Katie on herself.

This book surely has a lot of characters. There are those celebs who participated in Celebrity X-Treme, Katie’s former colleagues who she still maintained good relationships with, people involved behind Celebrity X-Treme, people from Katie’s family and random characters who were in a way or another related to the main characters. I found Dee, the weather presenter at Hello Britain! and Katie’s closest friend to be very likable and funny. Then, there was Keera Keethley, the ultimate bimbo who took over Katie as the main presenter of Hello Britain! Her character was good for laughs and in a way presented the most stereotype of celebrities. There are a whole bunch of other characters such as Siobhan Stamp (the scheming producer of Celebrity X-Treme), Adam (Katie’s current boyfriend who happened to be the director of a production company), Bob (Katie’s ex and her parents’ friend), Paul Martin (fellow reality TV participant who was a part of Siobhan’s scheme to bring down Adam and to bring up the rating of the programme) etc. As I told you, the book is in no way lacking of characters.

The book shifted between its many characters so much that I sometimes lost track but the way all the characters were well connected to each other helped to bring it back. Anyway, I believe it could do with proper descriptions of the more prominent characters. Also, I wish that the author had focused more on the reality TV. I found that those few scenes, though hilarious at best, felt rather inadequate. In fact, I found that the rift between Katie’s parents to be better written than the whole reality TV’s affairs.

All in all, an OK read when you are reading just for fun. Really, I picked it up just because it was on a very good Christmas bargain. But I found myself quite enjoying it. I guess there was no harm done.

My verdict: 2/5

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