I'm an awesome 24 y/o reader and writer of YA fantasy/historical fantasy. I mainly write about awesome ladies and the people who love them. I work at a library and I'm a contributing reviewer to Bibliodaze.
When I first began seeing status updates and reviews coming in from friends about Reality Boy, a surprising number of them dropped the book because it was a book they had to be in a certain mood for. After having read it, I now see what they meant. Reality Boy is definitely a book you have to be in a certain mindset and place to be able to read and fully appreciate.
Gerald's justified anger at his dysfunctional life is almost tangible and very visceral in several scenes. King's writing really shines the brightest during the moments when he's triggered and angry and upset and needing an outlet.
Admittedly, the first hundred or so pages are difficult to read because of his anger and his abusive home life. He deals with it in unhealthy ways and his narrative style reflects it. It's worth sticking with it to see how Gerald grows from the person he is in those first few hundred pages, and how his story unfolds.
I especially liked how we got flashbacks of sorts to the taping of the reality show he and his family were on. It really added a good layer in figuring out exactly how screwed up his family is, and how much it screwed him up in turn. It really did tackle issues we rarely see about reality shows anymore, namely: Is it right to subject kids to this sort of thing when they can't give their full consent? Should we accept the fact that the parents give consent for them instead and keep it at that?
Gerald was a great character. However, in turn, for all that I felt like I really knew him as a person and got to see all these layers and depth to him, it rarely felt like I could say the same for the secondary characters.
Tasha, his abusive and possibly bipolar sister, is reduced to pretty much just as she is. There's also a very high level of slut shaming put into her character, and I've noticed this is becoming a theme with King's female characters. The main one is always great and exempt from being called a slut for doing the exact same things the female characters who get called sluts do. Frankly, Tasha was a detestable enough character that this really wasn't needed.
Hannah, Gerald's love interest, did have moments of being interesting, and at the end I did enjoy her relationship with Gerald though it was very tumultuous. But in the end she toed the line of being one-dimensional and I never felt like I knew her as well as I knew Gerald.
But on that note, King's portrayal of Gerald's family was very effective and felt real. It was understandable why Gerald had so much anger at his family because they were just so dysfunctional, all he could do was react in anger towards it and how they treated him.
Overall, while I did get engrossed in Gerald's narration and the excellent technical writing, there were some things that did hinder my enjoyment of the novel overall. King is still one of my favorite authors, but I'm getting very tired of the slut shaming in her works and Reality Boy, while good, won't be my favorite of hers.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.