Well I seem to be missing something here because I didn’t find much to enjoy with this book.
On the one hand, this appears to be a book about ‘reality shows’ – an arts reality show is taking over Selwyn Academy with a show called For Art’s Sake. This how the book is billed. On the other hand, this appears to be a story about a couple of smart-ass art’s academy students. This is how it comes off.
For Art’s Sake is a ‘reality’ show (also known as ‘unscripted dramas’). Like almost any other show of the genre it is a bit on the sleazy side. A lot of phoniness with added incentives to keep it ‘interesting’ to viewers, but there’s nothing very real about the reality. But of course the idea of a competition to discover “The Best Teen Artist” appeals to many teens. And yet this doesn’t go down well with some of the students at the academy – students who are above average in the arts as it is – and so a group of them come together to secretly bring down the show and undermine what it is trying to do.
But, just as with a ‘reality show,’ there’s more going on behind the scenes than we initially know and it is the revelation of these secrets that keep us turning the pages.
I really liked the idea behind this book. The concept of an arts reality show plays on entertainment television like Glee and Fame and should certain have appeal to a certain group of YA readers. But at the same time, it doesn’t really stand out enough. The reality show concept gets lost behind the story of the group of students trying to protest the show.
And these students … well, they behave like students.
Articulate teens can be very sarcastic and cruel with their words and these teens are no different. Which is a problem for this reader. While they are identifiable, they don’t rise above the crowd of smart-ass teens. They have intelligence but not the smart decision-making skills and I found their behavior not so desirable (even if realistic).
It’s set in a fictional arts academy in Minnesota – which is in its favor, as far as I’m concerned, though there wasn’t much about this group that had a Midwestern vibe about them.
This was a journey that just didn’t grab me very well, even if I felt that the writing itself was quite good.
Looking for a good book? Combine the arts and reality television to get a story like Kate Hattemer’s The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, which is well written, but just doesn’t appeal.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
author: Kate Hattemer
publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
hardcover, 336 pages