Title: Loathing Lola
Author: William Kostakis
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2008 (346 pages)
Suitable Age: 13+
Fifteen-year-old Courtney Marlow didn’t exactly think it through. She thought the offer to have her life broadcast on national television was the perfect solution to her family’s financial troubles.
She was wrong.
Mackenzie Dahl, the show’s producer, promised to show Australia a real teenager. Courtney was going to be a positive role model, someone on television without a boob job and an eating disorder. But as events in her life are deviously manipulated to create drama, Courtney begins to realise that ‘ordinary’ does not translate to ‘entertaining’.
Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame via a little bit of Courtney – especially her conniving friend Katie, and her stepmother, Lola. But Courtney is not the pliant teenager everyone seems to think she is…
I recently read about Loathing Lola by William Kostakis at Persnickety Snark and was intrigued by the concept of the novel. I was also keen to read some youth fiction by someone who was of the same generation as the characters in the book. The author’s own recommendation on my Reading Wish List that the book was “made of awesome” pushed me over the edge and I picked up a copy and moved it to the top of my teetering TBR pile.
After a shaky start with a funeral scene that didn’t quite work for me, I really enjoyed this novel. The characters were fun and the story moved along at a nice pace. There is a lot of humour in the dialogue with the characters making the kind of witty comebacks that I would have loved to have been confident enough to make back in high school.
While each character did have a slight edge or quirkiness that stopped them being predictable, for me the major characters did more or less conform with a stereotype for their role. I’m not sure if this is what Kostakis intended, but for me this worked well as a reflection of the very staged and edited “cast” of characters present in most reality TV programs.
To illustrate my point, here is a list of some of the main characters:
Courtney: friendly, well-meaning, wants to make a difference, divorced parents
Tim: Courtney’s best friend since kindergarten. Funny, thoughtful, smart, supportive
Katie: Tim’s twin sister. Gorgeous, fashion conscious, vamp
Jackson: Hot potential boyfriend, gorgeous and talented
Jordan: annoying younger brother
Mother: caring, overworked, too many worries
Father: insensitive, irresponsible
Step-mother Lola: ditzy, insensitive
Kostakis is apparently currently working on a second novel that will centre on Katie. Of all the characters, Katie is the one with the sharpest sense of humour and I enjoyed her one-liners. She is a character with a lot of spunk and, for me, seemed to share quite a lot of the spotlight in Loathing Lola as well. After all, it’s hard to ignore someone who is willing to strip to their underwear to help take unwanted attention from a friend.
Loathing Lola was very entertaining to read with a very natural feel to the dialogue particularly. I think that it would also work well as a starting point for high school classroom discussions about how much “reality” there really is in reality TV programs. This is a great debut novel for Sydney-based author Kostakis and I’m looking forward to seeing how his writing style develops with future books.by