Monday, September 22, 2014

Rebels: City of Indra Review

When I have the house to myself (no witnesses), I watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians.  I partly watch it to drink the haterade and partly because I derive actual enjoyment from the antics of this rich family.  But, when I saw the footage of the Jenner sisters promoting their latest project — a ghost-written dystopian YA, marketed with their names — I felt nothing but contempt.  It wouldn't bother me if they hired someone to design a line of clothing and then sold it with their names attached, because my idea of fashion is Jason Wu for Target.  But putting your name on a book you didn't write? 

For the most part, the Jenners are pretending to have written Rebels: City of Indra.  There was no mention of Maya Sloan (their ghost-writer) or "collaborative effort" on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Instead, the obvious truth of the situation was skirted around in a really shady, silly way.  Trust me, you need to see this for yourself.  I feel like I need some Peter Pan-esque applause to revive my respect for the publishing industry.  Or a bath.

Likewise, their anemic twitter Q&A was terse and elusive.  

There was a little break in the facade, when, on Good Morning America, Kendall Jenner said something like "Obviously we couldn't have written a book by ourselves."  Obviously.

On the cover, the authors are listed as Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner.  On the interior title page, it lists Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Elizabeth Killmond-Roman and Maya Sloan. Elizabeth Killmond-Roman, it turns out, is the Jenner sisters' manager. Maya Sloan is a writer with an MFA. So... who did what?  
Left to right: Kendall Jenner, Elizabeth Killmond-Roman, Maya Sloan, Kylie Jenner
Maya Sloan blabbed spoke out, saying that the Jenners, with Killmond-Roman's aid, assembled a two-page concept.  They hired a ghost-writer, Sloan, who wrote the book and sent each chapter to the Jenners and their manager for notes and comments. Then, presumably it was edited by the higher-ups and then published. So, that's that. 

Enough backstory! I read this book. (Okay, the first one hundred pages.)  Why? I wrote down my intent before I started page one: "My question in reading this story is, in a book that was meant to be a product driven by the Jenner sisters, has Maya Sloan created a work of any merit?"

As it turns out, Sloan is not an untalented writer; I've read worse literature than this.  However, I did have major issues with her book. (She wrote it; it's her book.) Firstly, the pacing.  Dear lord, the pacing.  One hundred pages in, we are still in the introductory phase of the novel.  I would expect a dystopian novel to have a strong, brisk pace, but Sloan bogs herself down with bloated details and extraneous, tangent scenes.  

What I've read so far is a split-narration between Livia Cosmo (Kendall Jenner) and Lex (Kylie Jenner).  The first hundred pages — and beyond — is devoted to counting down Livia's debut ball and Lex's police/military/enforcement exam.  We are subjected to countless reminisces as the girls go through their training, preparing for these events.  Livia has to eat simulated, raw kidney and not pull faces.  Lex plays "zip ball" — an incomprehensible dystopic ball game.  Livia must keep her composure atop a remote-controlled, spinning platform, sixty feet in the air.  Lex gets high with a boy on stolen sensory enhancements.  Livia deals with a bitchy girl classmate. Lex deals with a bitchy girl classmate.  It's all very weird.  

And, weirdly enough, reading these scenes wasn't entirely unpleasant.  But, the combination of them all together had me scratching my head.  When is the story going to begin?  I might never find out.  I'm still not sure if I'm going to finish the book or not.

Another detail of Sloan's writing that I found issue with was her characterization.  Livia and Lex are both special snowflakes, superior to all around them.  This was tiresome.  I felt no connection with these overly perfect characters. Sure, they're both miserable orphans, but their demeanor is too self-impressed for their misfortunes to be affecting.  Also, there is the inclusion of the two bitchy rivals — one for each girl — that just seemed like a lazy, cliched concept.  Perhaps their genesis was on the two-page idea sheet that the Jenners handed Sloan.  Overall, the paragon/villain dynamic that went on between Lex, Livia, and their prospective rivals was obvious, cheesy.

Other than that, the book simply failed to draw me in.  I had planned to see this book through, but life is so, so short.  


  1. Ha! I doubt they had a hand on any part of this book. No. Just. No.

    1. Lol, I do think they did a two-page concept spread like Sloan said they did. I believe they are responsible for the alliterative names Lex and Livia. I even believe that they wrote "notes" on the chapters that Sloan sent them. But, reading the book, the language is way too advanced and flowery for it to be believable that they wrote it. It reads like an MFA wrote it. Figures.