Reality Boy by A.S. King
Published Little Brown 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardback from the library
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.
This is my first A.S. King book and really the only thing I knew about her writing was that this would be really dramatic and have some very interesting characters, both of which it lived up to. The point of this story is to talk about the bad things behind reality television shows, something that I have been thinking about since reading The Hunger Games. It’s got the same message, just in a more realistic setting to our day. The premise of this reality show is one of those nanny shows that I have never watched, but I’ve seen little glimpses of through commercials. And I’ve never really liked them.
Gerald is a very disturbed child and his story is written beautifully. It’s a great story. The way that he is told is really stunning. I wonder how much research A.S. King did to figure out how to write that type of story. I wouldn’t know if it was accurate, but I would probably imagine that this is what it was really like. But I’m not sure about that. The parts that I didn’t like were the side characters, particularly his friends. Hannah was really annoying and I hated her when she was on the page. I felt like she was a bad influence on Gerald, like he could have overcome his problems without her. And she spent way too much time sulking about being the ‘junkman’s daughter.’ That could have been a good storyline, but it just wasn’t developed enough. It was the same with Joe Jr. He just didn’t seem to flesh out enough through the book. My favorite part of the story was definitely his family relationships. I liked Lisi, but I hated his other sister and his mother. It was just so annoying to see them act like that, but I really wish we had a reason for why they did.
The story was good and well paced. I really like Gerald’s voice and the way he told the story too. The little flashbacks between the present day and old episodes of his reality television show were really interesting. I liked how the story ended, but now what it took to get there. Other than that, I really liked the plot and the message behind it. It didn’t drive home the anti-reality television as much as other books that I have read, and I think that was mostly because of the lack of explanation.
Overall, this book was okay. I really liked the depth of the family relationships and the uniqueness of Gerald’s story, but I wish there was more explanation and developed minor characters.