Sunday, April 20, 2014

Killing the Kordovas (e-book) by Kathryn Lively

Killing the Kordovas is a dark comedy published by DLP Books.


I received this in a BookLikes giveaway held by the author. It's a little outside the norm of what I usually read, but I figured I could use a change.

This book began with a rant that went on long enough for me to wonder if I'd been given the wrong file. The rant turned out to be a stand-up comedy routine. Joe, a comedian, heard Danni complaining about Cindy Shore, a thinly veiled E.L. James stand-in, and convinced her to try it out on stage. Danni, a romance novelist, was bitter that Shore's P2P fanfic, Delilah in Pearls, was wildly popular.

Krystal Kordova had just gotten a major book deal, and that upset Danni almost as much as Cindy Shore's popularity. She began to think, “What if I could kill Krystal Kordova and get away with it?” So, with no real plan, Danni headed over to Krystal's perfume launch with Joe in tow. She lost her murderous urge fairly quickly – Krystal was vapid but kind of sweet, and Danni was somewhat touched by Krystal's excitement over her future book, never mind that someone else would be writing it. By the end of the perfume launch, Danni had become that “someone else.”

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book, especially once Danni's desire to kill Krystal Kordova dissipated. Was Danni going to end up sucked into Krystal's world, ghostwriting books for the Kordovas for the rest of her life? Initially, I'd have said that was her idea of hell. However, the paychecks were really nice, and several of the Kordovas turned out to be kind of likable. Danni sympathized with Krystal's excitement at the thought of seeing her own ideas in print, and who wouldn't feel for Kandace Kordova and her desire to debut as a singer with something other than Titz 'n Yo Face?

For a while, it seemed like the story would be limited to Danni and Joe moving about the Kordovas' world in bewildered horror, with brief breaks for Danni to churn out a few thousand words of Krystal's book. Then, after Joe and Danni listened to a talk show host discuss anal bleaching (OMG, this is actually a thing), came the first shocker. This part of the story, and what Karla, the Kordova family matriarch, did afterward, grabbed my attention and made me want to know what was going to happen next. Karla wasn't necessarily very smart, but she made up for it with shark-like ruthlessness.

I was expecting the tension to build after this, until it culminated in either Danni and Joe's downfall or the destruction of the Kordovas. Unfortunately, the tension kind of fizzled, and the story's big bang of an ending, though good, lacked the kind of kick I had been hoping for.

This was one of those books where the situation, surprises, and humor grabbed me more than the characters did. The Kordovas were a mess – Fletcher was icky, Karla was awful, and I could never quite get a handle on Krystal. Kandace was probably the most likable of the bunch, although my opinion of her might have changed if she'd had more page-time. Sadly, I wasn't sure I liked Danni much more than most of the Kordovas. I'm no fan of E.L. James and P2P fanfic myself, but I got the impression that, as much as she complained about Cindy Shore, Danni would have jumped on the P2P fanfic bandwagon herself if she'd had anything she thought was marketable. And Joe – I felt kind of sorry for him. He'd spent years trying to make it big as a comedian, his career was slowly drying up, and then Danni came by and accumulated comedy-related job offers and business cards without hardly even trying. I was surprised he wasn't more bitter about it.

All in all, Killing the Kordovas was an okay read, good enough that I may give one of Lively's other works a try. The writing felt smooth and light, and Lively's "voice" was appealing.

Additional Comments:

I noticed fewer than a handful of errors, although one was fairly major, a sentence near the end written in the first person when the bulk of the book was third person POV.

  • A Certain Chemistry (book) by Mil Millington - I haven't read this. I added it to this list because it's a comedy starring a ghost writer who gets in over his head. Skimming through the reviews, it sounds like this is an entertaining enough book, but the main character isn't very likable. He has a wonderfully supportive girlfriend and yet lusts after the woman whose autobiography he is writing.
  • The Second Assistant: A Tale from the Bottom of the Hollywood Ladder (book) by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare - Another one I haven't read. I added it to the list because it's humorous and the cut-throat Hollywood environment mentioned in the reviews reminded me of the Kordovas' world.
  • Chart Throb (book) by Ben Elton - I haven't read this. It came up in a search I did for satirical books dealing with reality TV. The good reviews say that this would appeal to someone looking for something that focused on the darker, manipulative side of reality TV. The negative reviews say that Chart Throb seems pretty pointless. After reading through the descriptions of some of Elton's books, I'd kind of like to try Dead Famous, a mystery focused on a murder that occurred on the set of a Big Brother-type show.

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