Book Review: Reality Boy

Ashley Chase, Editor in Chief

The book Reality Boy by A.S. King is a story about a teenager who struggles with anger management issues due to his abuse by his psychopath sister as a child and the broadcasting of his family on reality TV. The boy in question, Gerald Faust, was portrayed as a troublemaking child by the reality program his family starred in during his childhood, without accurately documenting the torment most of the family endured from his oldest sister. Now without any friends and struggling with his feelings of anger, Gerald’s sister is still getting her way with whatever she wants, with Gerald’s mother defending her oldest daughter and his father avoiding the situation altogether. As Gerald fights his turbulent feelings, his interactions with the girl he works with and her own problems with self image cause him to begin to search for a way to break free from the prison he’s created for himself.

I liked this book a lot mainly because of the suspenseful way the story is structured. We know the current outcome of Gerald from his situation, but we only get bits and pieces of how he got to this point through various flashbacks and gradually realize the entirety of what happened. Gerald, though he is far from perfect and initially I wasn’t crazy fond of him, actually becomes more and more of a sympathetic character as the story progresses and you learn more about his backstory. You get to see the reason and causes behind his anger issues, making them a little more forgivable, and despite the rough exterior, Gerald is actually a very good guy underneath. On top of everything else, the book makes you question not only the reality of what is portrayed in the media but also question your relationships with your family and the people around you and the assumptions you make about your life.

However, the girl Gerald falls in love with that cause him to begin his change and helps him move on from the pain in his past, Hannah, didn’t do much for me. I appreciated the fact that she wasn’t a perfect angel sent as a solution to all of Gerald’s problems, but at the same time the flaws she did have were fairly annoying. The supposed problems that she dealt with seemed rather shallow considering that she made them into such a big deal. Also, her behavior towards Gerald seemed extremely inconsiderate and impulsive. I may be biased due to knowing Gerald’s backstory, but after Hannah proceeded to do something despite Gerald’s explicit request that she not do that same thing, her overreaction when he became angry, and her quick and instant “forgiveness” without any real apology on her part really turned me off to her character. I just didn’t see anything special in her that would cause a change of heart in Gerald and didn’t find her engaging. At all. The only problems and development I was concerned with was Gerald’s and Hannah seemed pointless and in the way- which is ironic considering she is one of the main characters and supposedly the main plot point that moves the action forwards.

But overall I found the book enjoyable. It was insightful and interesting, although a little unbelievable and a drag to read at certain parts. It was entertaining overall, even with its rough spots, and I would definitely recommend it for an entertaining read on a rainy weekend.