As I wander through bookstores, perusing various shelves, I come across a genre of hidden gems: novels by celebrities. Now, I am not talking about self-help books that celebrities often write, but rather the pieces of fiction they publish. I am using the word publish rather than write because most of these celebrities did not actually sit at a word document and create a fictional world, and they aren’t trying to hide that fact either.
I would love to learn the reasoning behind why publicists and agents propose that their clients write fiction, but until then, here are four celebrity books to either fill your time or completely avoid.
“Rebels: City of Indra” by Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Maya Sloan (co-author)
I wracked my brain trying to imagine how Kris Jenner convinced Kendall and Kylie Jenner to publish a book. I could make sense of it if it was a book dedicated to brand building, fashion or beauty. However, the dystopian synopsis of their work of fiction does not sit right with me. Though, if you take away the Jenner spotlight of the novel, it isn’t terrible.
Now, I wouldn’t say it has potential as a Pulitzer Prize or Booker Prize winner, however, compared to other young adult novels I have consumed, this was not the worst, but I still had issues with it. There is nothing revolutionary about the plot of two sisters, Lex and Livia, whose government tracks them via chip implants. Also, the plot goes completely off track, going in and out of chronological order in a way that makes no sense. I would be interested in reading more of her Sloan’s work to see how she has grown as a writer and focus on her rather than Kendall and Kylie’s name on the cover.
“The Perfect Letter: A Novel” by Chris Harrison
Chris writing erotica just makes sense to me. He had been talking about fantasy suites from 2002 to 2021, so he wanted to expand his audience of smut didn’t surprise me. There is no lack of subtlety for the raunchiness of Leigh Merrill’s return from her to her hometown of Austin, Texas, where she finds the past letters she wrote to the love of her life from her.
I imagine a group of middle-aged moms would enjoy this novel, drinking wine and gushing over Harrison’s wildly explicit detail of what viewers don’t see during the fantasy suites. The reviews on Goodreads are all over the place, with an average rating of 3.45. As an avid fan of “The Bachelor” franchise, I didn’t mind reading a book from the former host, but there are way better options for cowboy smut if you want a raunchy wild ride.
“Modelland” by Tyra Banks
When I picked up my e-book and rented a copy of “Modelland,” I expected it to be bad, but after finishing the less than 600-page novel, I was left overwhelmed with how badly my brain hurt. The fact that it was previewed as “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” meets “America’s Next Top Model” makes me want to remove “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” from my shelves.
The novel follows the story of Tookie De La Crème, who never thought she would get an invite to Modelland, an exclusive location on top of a mountain. When Tookie is whisked away to live her lavish life in Modelland, she yearns to understand why she was chosen since she has a large forehead and gawky body. Tookie finds three other girls who also feel like they shouldn’t be in the illustrious Modelland, and together they form a strong bond. There is something so odd to me that Tyra makes sure to include the flaws of these girls. For example, one of Tookie’s friends of hers is an albino. I think Tyra subconsciously still sent out the message that these girls weren’t as beautiful as the “traditional” looking girls of Modelland.
Other aspects of the novel did not make sense, such as some girls being able to have superpowers or how there is an entire underworld beneath Modelland. Tyra was stretching the amount of ideas she could throw into the novel, which made it confusing and unenjoyable. Even as a Tyra Banks fan, I just wish she had put the pen and paper away.
“Tease” by Trisha Paytas
This novel gets an immediate one-star for the relationship trope being a young college girl falling for an older man with abusive tendencies. Paytas writes the story of Mary, a typical college student, and Preston, an older man she meets at her part-time diner job. I cannot get on board with a novel that brushes aside abusive behavior because the abuser is attractive.
Trisha Paytas is already a controversial content creator, and this book just adds another tally to her list of controversial actions. After the first 90 pages, there is already sexual assault multiple times. The poor grammar along with Paytas’ attempt to add a fantastical allure to rape culture made the whole horrid novel.
I was thoroughly surprised, in good ways and bad ways, while reading these four celebrity-written novels. I did not think I would enjoy “Rebels: City of Indra,” but it happened to be my favorite out of the choices. Even Harrison’s raunchy erotica was enjoyable, but Paytas’ and Banks’ books fell short for me.
There are celebrities whose works are really well done, but I think it is because they are talking about their own life and not fiction like the books mentioned above. A great example would be Carrie Fisher’s book “The Princess Diarist” that featured her diary entries from her days on the set of “Star Wars.” What readers want from celebrities is their authenticity, not a fictional novel that barely has a tangible plot. However, if you’re a Kendall and Kylie fan or a “The Bachelor” fanatic, the two first novels might be for you.