The California dream was supposed to give seventeen-year-old Annie Shelton a fresh start, far removed from her dad’s unusual betrayal. But when things don’t go according to plan in La La Land, Annie’s mom snags a last-minute gig as makeup artist to a teen movie idol and finagles a spot for her daughter on his European promotional tour. Down-to-earth Annie would rather fangirl architectural sights than an arrogant A-lister. That is, until behind-the-scenes Graham Cabot turns out to be more sweetly vulnerable than she could have imagined. Too bad falling for a poster boy isn’t all red carpets and star treatment, especially when you factor in obnoxious fans, an overprotective assistant, a stage mom/manager, and a beefy bodyguard. But it isn’t until the paparazzi make an appearance that things get really sticky.
From reading the description alone, “Map To The Stars” seems like a total young adult cliché. In many ways, it’s just that, but I found it to be much more complex. This wasn’t my favorite book of the summer by any means, but I found it to be a novel that I could quickly devour in one sitting, and I love that.
Annie Shelton is a creative and genuinely unique protagonist. Personally, I found her much more interesting to read about than our male character, the Hollywood Heartthrob Graham. The book let me down with Graham; he was such a jerk from the first page. Obviously, he becomes more likable as the book goes on. And as a movie star, it’d be weird if he was a completely down-to-earth guy right away. However, I never had any swoon moment over him, and I found that to make me feel disconnected from the book more than I would have liked to see.
I did like that it took them a while to warm up to each other. Annie is the kind of girl who is just all around relatable to the majority of teen girls in some way. She’s unique because of her passion for architecture; I’ve never seen any character in a young adult book who loved it before.
Another downside to the book for me was the absence of strong supporting characters. We only got to see glimpses of those characters, and that didn’t leave much room for any character development. Yes, Graham becomes a more layered character, but that doesn’t make up for the loss of cool and wise supporting characters. I liked Annie’s mom, but, again, we don’t get to see enough of her. I also really liked Annie’s friend from back home, Wynn, but the book focuses more on the life our protagonist currently has in California, so we don’t get enough of her. All we really know about her is that she is obsessed with Graham Cabot, the teen movie star Annie’s mom is a makeup artist for. Wynn’s fangirl habits are important to the plot, since it gives Annie a form of reference to know who Graham is. Basically, I still longed for more of Wynn and her friendship with Annie.
I won’t lie, I was definitely swooning over Graham by the end of the book. However, I felt like he gives you whiplash. We were right along with Annie, liking him on one page and then confused by his actions the next. He wasn’t exactly an easy character to like consistently, which is both a good and bad thing for me, personally.
All in all, it was a cute read that I found myself enjoying even more than I initially anticipated. The writing of Jen Malone automatically swept me up, and I didn’t want to put the book down. That being said, it wasn’t anything particularly spectacular.