Published: April 6th, 2017
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiance inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.
Really real. Like, not reality show real.
Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.
Diversity: Bach is an openly gay character. Asa is latinx.
Warnings: Parental neglect and exploitation of children in relation to reality tv
Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury for giving me permission to read this advanced copy!
Royce Rolls is a fun and witty take on family and discovering yourself on the backdrop of Hollywood and reality television.
I found this book entertaining. Stohl’s writing is brilliant – immersive, with nothing to distract you from the story she wishes to tell. She sets each scene with care and nothing is useless to the overall conclusion to the plot. Stohl sprinkles clues through the pages that allow you to figure out the ending by yourself – admittedly an easier job in places, when the clues are placed a little heavy-handedly.
The characters were well written – each had their own personality, their own motivations in this strange world of reality television. Bentley has an interesting voice that makes her an engaging main character. She’s complicated in a way that her family doesn’t seem, but perhaps this because she is the character who we see the world through.
The way that Stohl dealt with family dynamics was incredibly accurate. The Royces have their ups and downs, their struggles to connect as a unit as well as the struggle to deal with personal issues as a family. It’s very clear that this idea of family importance is crucial to the story, in Bentley’s motivations throughout as well as the cause of some of her mental health issues (which are never stated but made explicit).
However, I did find Royce Rolls was quite difficult to follow at times. The book has tabloid articles spread between chapters which, though a definitely appropriate addition that had it’s purposes, take you away from Bentley’s head. There is also a point where, after the climiax of the plot, we lose Bentley’s POV completely and move to the head of someone else. I felt this sudden change, mixed still with articles about the Royces, in the last 20% of the book really pulled me from the story and I didn’t really get back into it before the book was done.
This section also has time jumps and skips, back and forth, which makes everything all the more puzzling. This section read like it was supposed to be on a screen and while it fits the context of the book, it doesn’t work as a literacy piece.
I also have issues with how underutilized Asa was. His story isn’t really explained or built up. It just kind of happens in the last section of the book and we have to accept it. It would have been far better to show Bentley’s realisation of who this person is and perhaps even show that first family reunion in detail. This is an instance of show-don’t-tell that really would have benefited Asa’s character and the conclusion of his story line.
Overall, Royce Rolls is an enjoyable read. It’s an entertaining and quick read with interesting characters and subplots that are concluded satisfactorily. It is a good story and if you enjoy contemporary fiction or enjoy stories about characters coming into their own, this book is for you.