By: Shakira “Scotty Unfamous” Scott
Protagonist, Rio Greene, is on a mission to become one of London’s social elite even though doing so will cost her everything— her self-worth and best friend included. Books 1 and 2 of Unfamous chronicle Greene’s first year at Brompton University (which would be much like the US’s Harvard or Yale, it seems).
Scott, or “Scotty Unfamous”, as she prefers has great command over voice in her work. A reader “hears” the voice of a young London native, fresh with European slang and easy conversational manner, but that might be where the positives stop. What reeled me in on this novel was the marketing, and in the digital age, marketing is everything. Unfamous has a great, soap-opera style trailer and an active social media presence. But the writing lacks.
The story line is strong. The coming of age of a young girl who realizes that her sacrifices greatly outweigh her gains is a universal theme many will relate to, but the author fails to “show” the story. Though I could see this piece as a movie or a play, it falls short as a novel. Trained in literary fiction, I have a deep appreciation for universal themes. I can still find pleasure in a well-written chick-lit novel, though, but I wasn’t able to find it here.
In the beginning of the story, Greene narrates a scene at the college where students party and dance to “the beat of whatever song was playing”. Well, as the reader, I wanted to hear the song. I wanted to see the dancing. So much more could have been explained here. Did the students sway their hips in a slow two-step manner or bounce up and down to the rumble of the bass? What song was it? Was the club crowded or hazy? Was it nighttime or daytime? As a reader, I wanted to be able to see this scene and many more like it.
The characters, Rio and Ty, although the most well-developed, were still shadows of fully developed, three dimensional characters. The reader never really gets to see what the two look like, or any of the other characters for that matter. Rio regularly falls into fits of self-pity, an annoyance for someone who wants to see a strong character— regardless of how she feels. She wants to be the social elite and knows what it takes to get there, but her constant thoughts of self-pity contradict her motives.
Grammar and punctuation are not strengths for the writer, as she often flip-flops between past and present tense, sometimes in first person while other times in second person. Numbers that should be spelled out are numerical, commas are missing, and run-ons abound. Grammar and punctuation rules are, however, broken everyday by writers, but they’ve made great strides to learn the rules and break them effectively. Not so in Unfamous.
I was able to find some humor in the story, like Rio’s unwillingness to have her expensive lingerie ripped off in the heat of the moment, but some of these moments diminish the believability of the characters. Even in science fiction, characters have to be believable, so in a romance, the same is necessary. The author quickly takes the reader out of these heated scenes with explanation and talk, diminishing the intensity as well. She needn’t do this, as the action in the scene gives the reader all the information he or she needs. Over-telling weakens the story.
Scott has a talent for story-line, and with some practice (and potentially the help of a professional editor) her future work could amount to something.