Pop by Catherine Bruton

Mmmmmm what did I think about Pop?

It was quite appealing in a light-hearted way even as it dealt with some pretty heavy issues.

Three Merseyside teens (Elfie, Jimmy & Agnes) – dealing with their tough lives – lives they try to lighten by entering a TV Talent show. Through their eyes we see bad parenting, good parenting, family breakdowns, bullying, unemployment, strikers, scabs and immigrants. 

Elfie, the main character, was pretty hard to like, even though you could empathise with her plight. The light touch used by Bruton to deal with such heavy topics meant that I never really felt inside the skin of any of the characters and therefore didn’t really care that much about any of them – it was a bit like watching Big Brother!

The humour was in Bruton’s analyse of reality TV – who enters, who plays to win, who actually wins and how the media manipulates all concerned.

There was nothing really wrong with this story but there was also nothing magical, amazing or life-changing about it either.

Billy Elliot meets the X-Factor meets Shameless. An emotional rollercoaster of a novel for readers aged 11 to 111.

I reckon we need a plan that’s so massive it’ll change our lives forever . . . The first round of auditions was a bit mad. All these wannabe popstars sitting around trying to look wacky/soulful/tragic (delete as appropriate) to catch the attention of the TV cameras. At least we had a cracking back story. The story of me, Agnes, Jimmy and baby Alfie too; the tears, the tragedy, the broken homes and feuding families, the star-crossed lovers. And only some of it was made up. If I say so myself, it was genius: a sure-fire golden ticket to stratospheric stardom. Or at least that was the plan . . .

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