A top novel with a top, refreshing story.
Riley Ozaki was once a normal teenage girl trying to survive high school. When misinterpretation of her school paper turns her calm life into a hell of bullying, both in reality and online, and public-shaming, Riley decides to join a competition in a deserted island with 19 other teenagers for a chance to turn the negative national attention she got into a positive and fix her broken reputation.
A secret, priceless treasure might just do the trick. In a cursed island setting, surrounded by competitors that will do anything to win the big price, Riley is thrown into a world of lies, betrayal and love where everything, including her life, is at stake.
I was convinced in the beginning that this would be a repetitive teenage-drama novel somehow and was pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise. The mystery of the treasure, the laboured tasks and the growth of the main character left me glued to the pages.
The plot is very well thought and developed leaving no loose ends. Emotions run high throughout the book and the pace of the story grows with each turning of the page.
The setting is almost like the Survivor series: an island in the middle of nowhere, filled with trails, challenges and traps growing in difficulty. The descriptions provided by the author make you want to get in there and do it too but at the same time question what your actions while faced such challenges. Series as Big Brother and Survivor gives a pretty good image of what can happen in a reality like this but Tiffany Brooks makes it look like something completely new.
The style of writing is compelling, using simple language and descriptions to bring the island and the characters to life. More than the place, Brooks takes her time in developing the characters and their relationships. Even though there is romance throughout the story, it never takes the front-stage completely; it runs in the background almost. Your focus remains on the mystery and not on chemistry and developing romantic relationships between characters. Even so, it definitely adds spice to the story and it becomes something to look forward to in addition to everything else. The description of the challenges is brilliant to the point you could see yourself participating in them and feel the adrenaline and the cold sweat of the risky tasks.
The characters are a big part of what makes this book so good. Brooks manages to write about teenagers without the stereotypical behaviour that you’re expecting for a YA novel. On the other hand, each character fits into the typical high-school categories that we can find in other books: the jocks, the nerds, the popular and the outcasts. For me, that didn’t make a lot of sense considering the competitors come from all over the country and they all a different life story and different experiences. If Brooks had explored this aspect better, it would have brought more colour and it would have made the story more interesting.
Riley is a strong main female protagonist but she’s also flawed which makes her a believable character. Brooks explores this character beautifully and the depth of her feelings and reactions make her look like a real person. Together with the solid storyline and heart-stopping setting, Riley completes the novel with her strength, determination and wittiness. Even though she comes from a rich family, she’s not spoiled but she has a very squared view of life until she starts “playing”. Riley adapts quickly to the challenges and her quick thinking make her journey worth following until the end. She’s very rational and logical as a character. Even though you can see that she feels lonely and how loyal she becomes to the people she begins to call allies, she manages to put their interests before chasing her crush and knows when to step back and just observe. Any idea of superficiality goes out the window when you realise that she puts others over her need to rebuild her social reputation.
A brilliant novel that I will definitely buy in paperback version! I highly recommend it to the fans of adventure, mystery and YA all mixed perfectly together!
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Tiffany Brooks for allow me to participate on the book tour of Reality Gold.