Review: Reality Boy

Author: A.S. King
Date Published: October 22, 2013
Pages: 368
Source: Library Ebook

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

My Review

This was a book I didn't hear too much about in the blogging world, but I knew about A.S. King since Lauren Oliver recommended her book in an author event. The majority of the reviews for Reality Boy are sparkling, and I'm sad to say that I don't feel like I really "got" the story.

My biggest comment is that this was not a book that ever interested me. Gerald never resonated with me. His character is traumatized from the time he spent on reality TV on one of those nanny shows, Network Nanny, but also his life with his family. Gerald's family is screwed up and I guess my major issue is that while I saw Gerald as a real character, he wasn't someone I could really relate to. Not even because of the experiences, but I feel like we act differently. I couldn't understand why Gerald did what he did for so much of the novel, and rather than enthrall me, his character confused me over and over again.

So Gerald didn't really work for me. I can't say he's a bad character. He's well fleshed out with interests and hobbies. He has a lot of background and that plays a role in who he has become. His family is awful, and there were points where I was absolutely outraged at them for what they did. He even had a pretty nice narrative style, with some wit here and there and an overall realistic portrayal of teen-speak. I just didn't feel like his story resonated with me, and that could be a complete personal issue and that's okay.

The plotline in Reality Boy was again, not my type. It's so slow and a lot of the story comes through the details rather than specific events. There's a lot of conjecture about the past, and frankly, the recollections of Network Nanny were my favourite parts to read. So much of the story is character development which can sometimes work for me, but in this case didn't. I just felt like the characters didn't endear themselves to me.

The other thing is that the story made me really sad. There's a lot of really horrible issues that are touched upon, and it was just so bad to go read about how some people can feel so trapped by the life they live. A lot of emotions from Reality Boy are meant to be inferred. The entire story is well written (if not over-written) and has a lot of showing. It's pretty easy to see why so many people like Reality Boy because all the technical aspects are there.

I kind of feel sad that it didn't work for me. I think it's because I never really bonded with Gerald. Sure, I felt sad for him, but also incredibly distant because he's so different and I had a hard time understanding his personality. I didn't feel very much through Reality Boy and because I was so disconnected to Gerald, who is really an essential to this story, every other part of the book suffered. The other characters didn't interest me too much although their interactions with Gerald seemed real. The whole story was so awkward with so many events happening just like life and I would recommend taking Reality Boy slow and really thinking about what is being read.

I did think the plot was not interesting. In fact, I was pretty bored by it. I didn't have any epiphanies like Gerald and I find the ending of the story kind of strange because it seems like I never realized at what point everything changed.

Although I wanted to like Reality Boy, the store has done very little for me except force me to reconsider those shows with the nannies I used to watch. I think there's a reason why Reality Boy has so many fans, but because this is my review, it is about my enjoyment. And that is 2 stars, which is neutral/average.



  1. Yeah... The concept for this sounded really compelling at first, but based on what we've heard, it didn't really translate into a story that we would enjoy. A shame. We still want to check out AS King's work though. Probably ASK THE PASSENGERS first.

    1. I don't really know because this one is a story that so many people think was so great, and it's written well, it's just not my type. I want to read Ask the Passengers too!



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