Book Club: Unrivaled

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Author: Alyson Noël
ISBN: 978-0-06-249674-4
RRP: $19.99

Alyson Noël is an accomplished author with a long list of titles under her literary belt and I have managed to miss all of them, I think there may be one or two on the neverending TBR pile but I can’t be certain. From what I can see Noël has been predominantly a fantasy/paranormal young adult author but the Beautiful Idols trilogy is in a completely different realm of fantastic. There are no alternate worlds or paranormal characters but we are transplanted to the heart of Hollywood and that’s almost like a totally different realm.

Unrivaled has been likened to Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, so fans of those TV series or their book series will probably love the Beautiful Idols novels. Of course I am joined at the hip to my book collection and don’t really watch much TV so am not familiar with those shows.

I enjoyed Unrivaled, it was a very easy to read book that went a lot quicker than I anticipated, I picked it up and thought it would take a while as it’s quite a hefty volume. The book flowed beautifully and the action was pretty constant so my progress was quite fast. Part of this I think is that it is a YA title and I find the writing to be a little more simplistic. The stories still have a depth and edge that capture my interest they are just easier to read.

In Hollywood everyone is out to make their mark, find their limelight and catch their big break; nightclub owner Ira Redman knows this and he knows exactly how to exploit it for his own gain. He organises the Unrivaled Nightlife competition to find the best promoter for his clubs and it is set up like all of your current reality TV shows though without the show. All of the weekly meetings are set up like a reality show elimination and that’s what I could see in my head as I was reading.

The competition starts with a shortlist of 12 candidates split into teams to promote Redman’s three Hollywood clubs and as the weeks go by the candidates are eliminated; it’s supposed to be performance based but of course that’s not the way it works.

Of the 12 competitors we are properly introduced to three, the others are background characters that we learn very little about. It is clear from the outset that these three will be the ones to make it into the final rounds and of course they each represent different clubs.

Tommy Phillips is not born and bred in LA, he moved to the city to pursue a music career, among other things, and finds himself working in a music store. He has an interest in Redman which is compelling to watch, his inner monologue is quite witty and I can’t wait to find out where this storyline will go.

Aster Armipour is from a wealthy ethnic family with strict beliefs about behavior and the roles of women. Though the family is wealthy the children have limited access to funds and their spending is supervised, their clothing needs to be approved and their futures are pretty well mapped out. Of course Aster’s dream of becoming an actress is not in the plan and becoming a club promoter would definitely be frowned upon if her family found out, lucky they are in Dubai for the summer. For Aster this competition is a way to make industry contacts and break into the public eye.

Layla Harrison has a celebrity blog and wants to earn enough to pay for her journalism course, she’s not a fan of the celebrity culture or the nightclub scene but the prize money is very tempting; as is the behind the scenes look at the nightclub culture.


These three characters have big dreams and they see the Unrivaled Nightlife competition as a great step towards achieving those goals and Unrivaled starts to give us an insight as to just how far they will go to get what they want.

The main subject of the story though is none other than teen star Madison Brooks, an A-lister who has climbed that ladder and left her roots far behind her. All anyone knows about Madison is the carefully crafted story she allows them to know.

Madison is the A-list celeb that Redman would love to see in one of his clubs and all the contestants are out to lure her in. The more we learn about Madison the more iffy I found her character. She was smart, sassy and sure of herself but she was also very sneaky. Since her rise to fame all of her movements are closely watched and loved by the tabloids. Her relationship are as much, if not more, about publicity and public appeal as any emotions she might have.

I found Unrivaled to be entertaining and I was hooked from early on. I want to learn more about the characters and how they evolve, and who reaches their dreams, but I also want to get to the bottom of the mystery. I have some theories but only time will tell if I’m even in the same zip code.

The game show element annoyed the crap out of me and I think that was for a couple of different reasons. Firstly I really don’t like or watch any of the reality shows or game shows, they irritate me though at this point in time I couldn’t give you a rundown of why. And secondly, the rules seemed to change at the whim of Redman. Actually I don’t know if the rules changed or if it was just that he made them up as he went along. Charismatic and canny Redman was also a little sleazy and he eliminated based on his own personal ratings system that had very little to do with the numbers it was supposed to.

Nothing is ever what it seems in Hollywood and Unrivaled has certainly got that element covered, I need to keep reading to find out how it all plays out. I am hooked and can not wait to see what comes next.

Thanks to Harper Collins Publishers 10 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading and reviewing Unrivaled so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

Unrivaled is available now through Harper Collins Publishers, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and where all good books are sold.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: Unrivaled

  1. Unrivaled by Alyson Noel is the first book in the Beautiful Idols series. It is ( a soap opera style thriller – think Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz) set amongst the gossipy glitter and glitz of Hollywood, and with a cast of young wannabes who are desperate to make their marks:

    Madison is the hot rising star, the name on everyone’s lips, the toast of the town, and the one everyone wants to be seen with. But something else is going on in golden girl, Madison’s well crafted life.

    Layla is a blog writer who wants to be a ‘real’ reporter but whose blind ambition seems to sometimes override her better judgement, and her scruples.

    Tommy works in a music store, is an aspiring rock star and who seems like a straightforward kinda guy, but even he has a hidden agenda and is out to prove himself.

    Lastly there is Aster the spoilt little rich girl whose family have mapped out her life for her, but who is keen to make it on her own terms, as an actress. Is she just another pretty young thing or will she do whatever it takes?

    Unrivaled is told from these four characters’ perspectives, and while each of them is quite different it soon becomes clear that they are all keeping secrets, and they are all in LA desperately seeking the recognition and fame they think they deserve.

    The story pits Layla, Tommy and Aster against each other in a competition where getting Madison’s patronage is the ultimate prize. Its just a matter of working out how far each of them is prepared to go to get it. Far enough it seems to have made them all suspects in a mysterious crime…

    If you love gossip, glamour, intrigue and the seedy, shady side of becoming a star in tinsel town you’ll enjoy Unrivaled. An entertaining first book, in what promises to be an engaging series. (Others have compared it to Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars and just like them, this too would make a great TV series).

  2. It had me hooked from the moment I saw the cover.
    It’s delightfully trashy, telling the stories of 3 young hopefuls in a competition that could change their lives, but it’s so much more than just a light read
    It shows the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, it also shows its seedier and darker side. Don’t start this thinking I’ll just read a chapter before I go to bed. You will be going to work bleary eyed the next day.
    Just exactly what are you prepared to do to follow your dream?
    Can’t wait for the second instalment in this trilogy

  3. I really wanted to like this book. Honestly I did. It appealed to my love of all things LA. Glamour and Money!!! And I really loved the cover..

    The story line was catchy and it certainly had me reading late into the night.

    Although, I did find it hard to relate to any of the characters (clearly they are waaaayyy younger than me! lol) I honestly don’t think that any of the characters are particularly likeable .. eeek.

    I did feel the ending was kind of sudden and yes I appreciate it is a trilogy but I felt kind of disappointed with the ending.

    Perhaps the second book will bring me more closure?? Overall it was easy to read and well written.

  4. Unrivaled is not your typical book. It’s supposed to be a suspense/thriller set in the bright lights of Hollywood and told from four different perspectives. The premise is ultimately a good one but the writing is overly simplistic and the characters are too stereotyped and clichéd to appeal to adults (although this could be perfectly pitched at the young adult readers the novel was designed for).

    Alyson Noël is a successful author of over 20 books and is a New York Times best-seller whose work has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest offering, Unrivaled is the first in a new trilogy called, “Beautiful Idols.” It’s a young-adult novel and I think this may be why I had trouble engaging with the story. As a 32 year old Australian woman with only a passing interest in celebrity (and a distinct hatred of anyone that is famous for the sake of being famous) I found this story to be too vapid, slow and superficial.

    The story begins with the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood It-girl, Madison Brooks. She is someone that is harbouring a number of secrets but she is certainly not alone on this front. The story then turns back time to a month prior where we meet three young, hungry teens who have agreed to take part in a contest run by a Hollywood heavyweight called Ira Redman. The competition will see an aspiring entertainment journalist named Layla, a wannabe musician called Tommy and a bratty would-be actress named Aster competing with other desperate teens to become a full-time promoter for one of Redman’s clubs. To do so they must get people through the door of one of his establishments and the more famous the guest, the better.

    The book is a slow-burner and it spends a lot of time detailing the competition and the lengths the characters will stoop to. Even with all of this information, the characters still feel rather hollow and not fully formed, especially when they do things that are completely unexpected. The story of the competition also lacks suspense and it merely unfolds amidst the expected world of hidden agendas, dirty laundry, secrets, lies and the like. The book really hits its stride when it manages to catch up with the part of Brook’s disappearance but it ends in such an unsatisfying and abrupt way in order to leave things open for the sequel that some readers may walk away feeling cheated by this turn of events.

    Unrivaled is a dark novel that shows how ambitions can turn poisonous with a bunch of unlikeable and self-absorbed characters that seem like a reflection of today’s society. Noël is a good writer but this novel is a flat one, as it details some beautiful people’s competitive natures in the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. It was a book that wasn’t to my liking but the kids may enjoy this easy-to-read tale of celebrity thrills and spills.

  5. “Welcome to the party” certainly rings true for the LA crowd. Unrivaled by Alyson Noel (the first book in the trilogy Beautiful Idols) paints the picture of behind the scenes in the celebrity world.

    The book starts with a short chapter involving A-list starlet Madison Brooks – setting the scene, tone and premise for what is to come. She has paved her way in Hollywood, gotten to the top, but there is something much deeper to Madison than she is letting on.

    The story then begins one month earlier, which introduces us to three main characters – Layla who writes a celeb gossip blog but would love to further her career; Tommy – who works in a guitar store hoping to become more than that; and Aster – a cash filled teenage who dreams of her name on billboards and magazines.

    Their stories all start to come together when Ira Redman (owns the hottest clubs) posts a competition, where they become promoters of his clubs – all in a bid to win a cash prize. Contestants are eliminated and some a rewarded with hefty wads of cash, and this was such a fun element to the story, and Ira is such a character!!

    Now I think this is where I leave you to read the story (and get hooked) – as I do not want to give anything away!!

    Firstly I loved how every chapter started with a name of a song – this was pretty neat and different. The story itself was a great read and I really enjoyed it, and it was a good fun read which I took away for the weekend and found it was really easy to get into. It reminds me of books I read as a teenager like Gossip Girl – so was definitely up my alley. I was drawn in to each characters chapter, wanting to know more about them, how would LA change them, what would they be willing to do for the competition and fame? Towards the end of the book the characters started to flesh out more than beyond the competition, so it will be interesting to read about them more as the trilogy pans out.

    As it starts to get into the nitty gritty end of the book the mystery begins to unfold – and I found myself thinking this is so how celebrities/Hollywood would exactly be! Scandal, lies, paparazzi, conniving plans, juicy gossip, flirtation, parties, money, fame!

    This book is the first in a trilogy, but I was not expecting for the whole mystery to be drawn out over the three books – I thought it would solve it at the end – so when I came to reading the last few pages and still wondering who did what, I was left with a cliff-hanger (which I am still piecing together in my head…how? what? why?!) – and boy do I want to get my hands on the next book….I want to know how it will end!!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace for letting me review Unrivaled by Alyson Noel – I will certainly be on the lookout for her next two in the series to unravel the mystery. Thumbs up from me!!

  6. The book Unrivaled by Alyson Noël is the first book in the Beautiful Idols trilogy. It is set in Hollywood around a teenage starlet called Madison Brooks. She has worked incredibly hard get to where she is as an A-lister celebrity and she revels in being such a big star however, there is a deep and dark secret she is hiding and not is all as it seems.
    The other main characters of the book are Tommy, Aster and Layla. All of them are completely different people who under normal circumstances would never probably ever meet but are thrown into each other’s lives because of a competition run by Ira Redman. Ira is the owner of the hottest nightclubs in LA and has promised a big cash reward to the winner.
    Each of these characters have their own agendas (and more secrets!) as to why they enter, and each will go to incredible lengths as to how they stay in the competition. With each character being so different in persona I found it was fun choosing who’s side I was on.
    The ending of the book surprised me as it ended on a cliff hanger with many unanswered questions. I was absolutely expecting to find out what happened but this is clever, as now I will definitely be going out and sourcing the sequel.
    I found Unrivaled to be a very easy and entertaining read. It was perfect to read on my way to and from work as it didn’t require too much thought and was easy to pick up from where I had left without having to flick back and re-read pages. It is a book targeted for young adults so I found that it made it a little simplistic however, sometimes I just really enjoy reading a book that is light and doesn’t make you think too hard.
    Thanks for letting me be a part of the trial, am really looking forward to reading the second book!

  7. I read Unrivaled while on holiday and it was the perfect book for that. Alyson Noel has written a book that flows easily and is great if you’re looking for a book for a bit of escapism. It is the first book in the Beautiful Idols trilogy and personally I can’t wait to read the rest. Set in Hollywood with the main character Madison Brooks the big star who holds a dark secret. The characters are all captivating and exciting, it’s a book I would definitely recommend.

  8. Unrivalled well ! certainly would be in a teenage/young adult mind more bite than the normal books for this age group & definitely plenty of trashy gossip for them.
    This was a well written book easy to read with a good Hollywood plot but not my kind of read at all.
    I will admit the characters were strong in their own right & some made my blood boil at their antics as they should do & I am sure many will look forward to the next part of the trilogy.
    Will pass onto my teenage granddaughter who will probably enjoy it.
    Thank you for the chance to read Unrivalled.

  9. Unrivaled ! What a cover ! What a Book !

    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this book. This book was very easy to read and fast paced with lots of events which had you guessing.
    This book would appeal to young adult readers and many of us who just want a light hearted, fun and exciting read.
    I loved all the characters in this book and also loved the way the author bought these young “wannabees” together.
    The story line gets you thinking, is this what the high Hollywood life is like ? Is taking risks whats it all about ? I wonder.
    I finished reading the book and now have many unanswered questions, Bring on the next instalment.
    Can’t wait…..

  10. Unrivaled is a novel written by Alyson Noel who is a wonderful author of many young adult novels.

    I find her style of writing draws me in and I have to read every book in the series.
    Unrivaled is no different to that style. Once again I was captivated the whole read.
    Unrivaled is a mysterious and compelling new series set in the fast-paced world of LA nightclubs, where three teens, Tommy, Aster and Layla get caught up in a high-stakes competition to be the club promoter for Ira Redman.
    The desperate measures they take to win that make them suspects in a mysterious crime.
    This book has Hollywood, Fame, Money, Night Clubs and desperate teens ready to do anything it takes to make a name for themselves.
    I did like the chapter titles which were all song titles that did fit with each chapter’s contents

    This novel is one that gets you thinking and trying to solve the crime (that hasn’t been solved in book one). Madly trying to work out who the good guys and the bad guys are keeps you engulfed right to the end. Wait…. it ended but there is so much more I want to know.
    Oh well looks like I have to be ready to buy the rest of this series.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for a fantastic read.

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