Sunday, May 19, 2013

Book Review: HDU

By Miriam Plotinsky 

Though my mother assures me that I should be ashamed to admit it, one of my happy moments each week is snuggling up in bed with my newest issue of US Weekly. Call me a shallow escapist, but I love reading about human folly in any form, and celebrities engage in enough ridiculous behavior to keep ordinary people entertained on a daily basis. However, sometimes celebrity gossip can get out of hand, particularly on the Internet, and India Lee explores that topic in her latest novel, HDU.

The book opens with Amanda Nathan, a near-hermit who moderates a celebrity gossip site called HDU (which stands for "How Dare You?"). Languishing in Merit, Missouri after her best friend Megan humiliated her by shamelessly stealing her boyfriend, Amanda has no desire to be part of the real world, preferring to live in the online community she manages. From the start, her pitiful state makes her a sympathetic character, so when a totally unrealistic but irresistible opportunity arises to pose as a famous actor’s plain-Jane girlfriend and move to New York City, readers rejoice in the fact that Amanda finally seems to be getting a life.

Like similar New York-based gossipy stories (now that Gossip Girl is over, a lot of fans will be starved for a fix), HDU embraces Manhattan as a character, a place in which possibilities are endless and people can undergo very public humiliation followed by equally public triumph, sometimes repeatedly. As Amanda navigates the unfamiliar but thrilling city, she gradually finds her footing and, in true Cinderella style, emerges gorgeous and desirable. While she doesn’t initially like the actor she’s pretending to love, Liam Brody, they develop a solid chemistry and engage in more than a few witty verbal exchanges. Along with Brody, characters like scheming actress Casey Mulreed and Amanda’s former best friend Megan provide enough juicy conflict to keep the story moving.

HDU is pure brain candy. While the book might not enrich any minds, we don’t always need books to serve that function. Sometimes it’s just a relief to sit back and enjoy a story without having to think too hard. Anyone who needs an urban getaway but can’t afford to head to New York City for the real deal will certainly enjoy this gossip-driven story as a much cheaper, not to mention more scandalous, substitute.

Thanks to the author for the book in exchange for an honest review.   

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