HDU (HDU, #1) - India Lee
I kind of feel like this book proves my point on how utterly stupid the "new adult" sub-genre is. If I'm not mistaken this was out or at least written before people started trying to make that ridiculous category happen. This is a story about adults of a younger age (although in the Hollywood microcosm that mirrors high school so well), written as an adult book. It's not an obvious marketing ploy like all the books written since NA became a thing (not previously released books reclassified from what they originally were). It doesn't rely on the juvenile writing and tired, often offensive, NA tropes to be interesting. The characters manage to come together without sexual assault being involved. Imagine that! In the book the main characters didn't screw everything that moves, nor was there a virgin defined by being one and running around acting like it's a fate worse than death.* In fact, there's no sex at all, which is completely refreshing — until, of course, the final scene.The premise of the book is very fanfic-like in how over the top improbable it is. And a lot of things happened in plot, quite a bit of which were also improbable. But it is also just a fun read. I found myself rushing back to read it whenever I had to stop.This is probably the most high quality self-published book I've read from someone who wasn't traditionally published first. There were some errors but less than quite a lot of traditionally published books now. My only big complaint was formatting: the site posts, comments, emails, and texts needed to be italicized to set it off from the exposition. That worked its way in later in the book, but it needed to be consistent throughout. Early on it was confusing going straight from a gossip site post to the main story.I really liked that a small part of the story was told through gossip site stories. Instead of reading as outsiders with no knowledge of the truth like in real life, we read them as insiders in this book and are put in the perspective of the characters reading half-truths, outright lies, horrible statements, and even the actual truth. Also, Lee pretty much — hilariously — nailed ONTD comments. No wonder everyone's convinced she's a member there.The story focused on Amanda's journey from down and out "nobody" college graduate with no clue what to do with her life, to center of the public eye as the girlfriend of a notorious Hollywood "bad boy". I liked Amanda, though she kind of made it hard sometimes. She could be too naive at times, and a little too nice. She didn't listen when warned about some people who could be awful. She wasn't proactive at all, and I figured she would have learned she needed to be by later on in the book. For instance, quite a few times she knew someone was going to do something, typically something that was going to bite her in the ass, but didn't do the smart thing to forestall their action. She often didn't speak up when she should have. I didn't get how she could be so bluntly honest with Liam, someone she didn't know and who hadn't done anything to her, but let her heinous ex-best friend and townspeople get away with treating her horribly. Or why she didn't get angrier at the people dismissing her when she chose to stand by her friend, Ian — someone who had been there for her when she needed him, and was instrumental in setting her life on this path — at personal cost to her. That was something I really liked about Amanda: how loyal she was. Even Liam knew that about her. I really liked the romance. Well, once it happened. Amanda and Liam had some great snark. Their dialogue was funny, fun, and became quite sweet. I loved how their relationship evolved. The problem is that there wasn't enough of it. They were barely together at all the first fifty percent of the book. In the second half they got closer but it was more truncated than it should have been and they were apart again for quite a bit until the very end. It left me wanting so much more on Liam/Amanda front. Especially having Liam around in the story at all. I came to adore him and just wanted more of the two of them together.Even with the over the top story and some frustrating, eye roll-inducing scenes, I really enjoyed reading this book. I'd be moving on to the sequel immediately if I didn't have library books I have to read.*You know, I actually thought I was maybe being over the top bitchy in that first paragraph (even though I meant every word and it is exceedingly true). But then while posting I saw an ad for an NA book, the copy of which changed my mind. I don't think I was bitchy enough.