[Review copy from the author. Review originally published here
Shooting Stars features Josephine Foster, nicknamed “Zo Jo”, as its main character. Jo is a sixteen-year-old paparazzi photographer, who is aided by her height in taking good quality pictures of stars. She is trying to make enough money to fulfill her lifelong dream: becoming a portrait photographer, taking photography classes, and leaving the paparazzi world behind. When someone offers Jo a large sum of money to do an undercover assignment at an exclusive retreat in Boston, to photograph teen superstar Ned Hartnett, she has the opportunity to make that dream come true. However, her stay at the retreat soon becomes complicated: the sessions she attends make her reconsider what she’s doing, and who she is. Moreover, she has difficulty seeing Ned Hartnett as another impersonal star to photograph, as he is the only celebrity that has ever been nice to her..
This is a very cute story. It is uncomplicated and fun, and was an unexpected joy to read. Jo is an interesting character, who is independent (yay for independent female YA protagonists!), and experiences realistic insecurities without becoming annoyingly naive. There is even a plot twist in there that I did not anticipate.
Having said this, I find I have surprisingly little to say about this novel. It is conveniently plotted (perhaps a little too convenient for some) and a fast read. It is the kind of YA novel I enjoy occasionally: contemporary “regular” teens little by little growing into their own sense of identity. Of course, Jo being a sixteen-year-old paparazzi who often stays out late at night to take shots of stars is a little unrealistic, but I had no problem suspending disbelief because I enjoyed the overall story provided enough.
Shooting Stars might just be a great beach read: light, unchallenging, romantic, but not overtly so. Nor does it fall into the faults often displayed in YA these days, because Jo is a regular but strong female protagonist. She is allowed to make mistakes, and to rectify them on her own. And she experiences personal growth without displaying “I am a whiny teenager” characteristics. Yes, Shooting Stars was fun, and got a lot of what I enjoy in YA novels right. A lot of fun, even. Unfortunately, it never exceeded the level of “fun” and did not provide an extraordinary or particularly memorable reading experience. Then again, that’s not necessarily what I was looking for when I picked this up.