book review

Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

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Release Date: April 06, 2017

Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiancé inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.

Really real. Like, not reality show real.

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*eARC courtesy of the publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing (thank you!), via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

It was the cover that attracted my attention for Royce Rolls. Read the synopsis, shrug, and decided to give it a try. Luckily, I received a copy. I don’t really watch a lot of reality shows. If I do, it will be those talent competitions. Other than that, I’m not really interested. So, it is just plain curiosity for me when I choose this one and it’s quite a revelation how the reality show works. And it surprised me that I quite enjoy Royce Rolls.

The storyline is actually intriguing (especially to those who like reality shows), though I can’t relate most of the time since like I’ve said  I don’t follow reality shows with the same format. It took me a long time to warm to the story because I’m getting used to the writing style and also, I’ve been distracted for first 25% of the book because of the footnotes. After a while, I give up on reading them and just paid attention to the story. Which made things a  lot easier for me and slowly I came to like the characters.

The Royce family is for sure a total riot. They were all absolutely unique and hilarious. There’s Bentley, of course, a 16-year-old who stars in the most popular serialized cable TV reality show, Rolling with the Royces, with her family. But she wants out. She wants to live a normal life away from the camera. She wants to go to college. The thing is, being in college is against the role that she played in their show. She is an interesting main character who have to pretend to be a troubled and out of control teen and has to make sure she get paparazzi’s attention in doing crazy and stupid stuff. She follows a set of guidelines called Bentley Bible. Overall, I like Bentley’s personality. She is smart and witty and though she has a crazy-ass family, it is obvious how much she loves them by taking the fall every time one of them eff up. There is more to her than what she led people to believe.

Her mom, Mercedes, is media-obsessed and scary hence she was dubbed as Mercenary Royce. She is the head of the Royce family who refused to be called by her children Mom, just Mercedes. Her antics are hilarious, her spunk admirable. The older sister, Porsche, the pretty one and the rising star with her beauty cosmetic line. And finally, there’s the funny Maybach, the youngest and only boy in the family, he’s also the only likeable one but is so caught up with his gambling addiction. I know what you’re thinking, yes, they were all named after cars.

The story actually started with the news of Bentley having a car accident on the night before her sister’s wedding. She was with her future brother-in-law, T. Wilson White aka Whitey. The car she was driving falls off a cliff. From then, the story switched to a flashback from months ago before the ill-fated accident. The flashback recounted, thru Bentley’s POV, how their show will not be renewed for another season and how she wished for it because finally, she’ll have her freedom. But then, she found out that her family is in so much debt that the only way for them to fix it is to make sure they’ll be signed for another season (or more). And as much as she wants to run and live a normal life, she can’t abandon her family. And so, she stayed and played the pain in the ass Bentley until it all leads to the accident.  

One thing I don’t get though is the Asa character. I don’t get why he has to be there. I believe the story would still be okay without him even though he has some contribution towards the end. It will be hard to get through this particular issue without revealing the twist. Maybe, if Miss Stohl added more information about his background, I will be more sold to the romance between him and Bentley.  

The last quarter of the book is quite genius. Yes, I’m exaggerating but what I’m saying is, it is good. It is actually what saves this book from me giving it a low rating. The revelation is exciting but not that surprising. Still, the way it was weaved to form a twist that may be unrealistic and still ends up good, was accomplished really well. It also finally gave a glimpse of how the over-the-top family was like before popularity hits them. It is not dramatic at all but is a sweet and tender moment. It got me thinking if the Royces were real TV reality show stars, would I watch them? Maybe not, but I sure don’t mind reading about them. The Royces are definitely fun to read. 
 
Royce Rolls is a hilarious satiric book that takes a jab on today’s pop culture of reality shows. It reminds us not to believe everything we see on TV or on the Internet. If you’re into reality shows, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. And even if you don’t and just want to read something funny and different, go try Royce Rolls. Who knows, you might enjoy it, too.

RATING: 3.5/5

3andhalfhearts

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

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