Behind the Scenes (Review)

Behind the Scenes
By: Dahlia Adler

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

So, I know despite what I'm about to say, it's going to sound like I didn't like Behind the Scenes. But I did. It's light and fluffy, a good book for the summer. I liked the beginning, suffered through the middle, but the ending really made up for it.

I was nervous because I know Dahlia, or at least, I've worked with her in the past and I was concerned because I honestly didn't think I'd like the novel. I put off reading it for awhile for that reason alone. For a majority of the novel, I was like "Oh, shit" and not in a good way. 

What I liked about Behind the Scenes is that it's what I call a contemporary fantasy. It's realistic fiction, but it's also kind of a fantasy. Not like Lord of the Rings, but like a daydream. Falling for a rockstar or in Ally's case a movie star. Something that theoretically could happen, but probably won't. 
I liked that angle. reminded of Susane Colasanti's Now and Forever which I recently read. That's the thing about contemporary fantasy though. It has to be realistic enough to make it seem plausible like it could actually happen and make it seem like it's not just a daydream, but at the same time it has to balance out and not let the realism destroy the fantasy aspect of the story. It's hard. So, while Behind the Scenes wasn't exemplary, it's still pretty good. 

I just have a hard time with contemporary fantasy because it's asking readers to suspend disbelief more than I'm comfortable with. It's not that I don't think the events aren't plausible, I genuinely think the events could go down like but I don't believe in the details. It just seems like a sequence of exceptions. Maybe Ally is just that lucky, though, but I couldn't help but be skeptical. 

I was also skeptical about the guys in novel. I felt like things with Liam started way too fast and I was supposed to go along with it, but I went along with it anyway. Just when I finally warming up to Liam, reality comes crashing down on that relationship. All the things that you don't want to daydream about. The things that actually make a relationship tick. 

Then enter Nate. He makes all these great points. He's a legitimate contender for Ally's heart. He seems so great that I keep going back and forth between if I want Ally ending up with him or Liam. For a good portion of the novel, I honestly don't know who's she's going to end up with but I'm okay with it, in fact I liked that I didn't know.

I guess my final complaint about BtS is the writing. I felt a lot was being forced fed to me in the exposition. It was an info dump at times but at others there wasn't enough information. In the beginning there is a scene when Ally and her best friend Vanessa go on set and there's literally no description of where we're at and it's not only confusing but it's annoying as well. Or there would be times something's happening just outside of the scene that I'd want to see firsthand, but instead, we don't get it. For instance, a scene where Liam is arguing with Josh and this other girl at Josh's house. I wanted to hear that argument, but instead I got murmurs. 

Still, there are some moments where Adler just gets it sooooo right. Moments where I get sucked in and it's so funny and so believable, that I get caught up in the story. Those moments are mainly in the beginning and in the end, especially the scenes with Josh. Those scenes with Josh are so magically, I kind of wish that there was more of that, instead of the love triangle subplot. I didn't want it to end. 

But I heard that there's going to be a companion novel, so there's hope. I know, if there is a companion, I'm totally in, because despite all of my complaints, this was a good start and I know that Adler's writing will continue to grow. There's just so much heart in this novel. 

e-ARC provided by Publisher via Edelweiss for an honest and unbiased review. 


  1. As an actress myself, I always get REALLY excited when I see a book that features theatre / acting! :) I'm so glad that this was well-done despite its flaws Aly! I'm not sure how I'll do with the contemporary fantasy aspect, but I hope it hits right with me! The info-dumping writing style does bother me a bit, but I think I can forgive it if everything else is well done! :D Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    1. Yeah, I think there are some issues that are annoying, but despite the issues, it's still enjoyable. Plus I feel like she'll get better the more she publishes. It's still a pretty good debut.

  2. Setups for novels like this tend to either really work for me or fall flat, but I'm intrigued by this one, Aly. I like the author's new spin on it, though I worry an info-dump will drive me nuts. Either way, I'll definitely add it to the queue! Lovely review :)

    1. I think it was a little bit of both for me. I think it worked but some parts were flat too. Still, I'd recommend it with caution.

  3. I like your usage of the term contemporary fantasy! I've read a couple of review for this one and they all seem to share your feelings but I'm definitely still interested to check this one out! Great review :)

    1. Thank you! I feel like it perfectly describes the kind of novel it is, you know. You should def check it out, I liked it despite my issues with it.


Please feel free to comment, I personally read every comment and try to reply. Thank you.