Angels on Sunset Boulevard

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Angels on Sunset Boulevard Book Poster Image
Provocative book about social networking gone bad.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

In the end, Taj decided to remain in TAP, even though she knows it's evil.

Violence

Both Taj and Nick are hurt in "accidents" meant to scare them.

Sex

There is a special backroom ritual at TAP parties that -- while described vaguely -- seems like an orgy.

Language

Some swearing, including "f--k."

Consumerism

Some mention of Red Bull, Palm Treos, Nike, Mel's Diner, In-N-Out Burger. TAP members are encouraged to make wish lists of expensive products -- though careful readers will see the dark side of this greed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink -- and even shoot up with -- TAP, a mysterious substance that was "like taking heroin, ecstasy, and acid all at once."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book centers on a fictional social networking website. TAP.com organizers also throw parties. At these parties, teens drink a mysterious substance that is "like taking heroin, ecstasy, and acid all at once" -- after which some teens disappear. Some attendees also perform a strange orgy-like ritual in the back room. TAP members are encouraged to keep wish lists on the website of expensive products, which are somehow fulfilled -- careful readers will see the dark side of this greed. This is a mature book, and features plenty of harsh language, including "f--k."

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What's the story?

The Angels Practice -- or TAP -- is a fictional social networking website -- like MySpace.com, but with a serious dark side. Cool girl Taj rock star boyfriend disappears on stage. Nick's young stepsister has also disappeared -- and with Taj's in the process.

Is it any good?

This book delivers enough excitement to hook readers: a missing rock star, an unexpected romance between two very different characters, for starters. And of course, at its heart, there's the mysterious social networking site designed to keep kids striving for fame and material goods. The writing might not always live up to the author's creative ideas, but teen readers will certainly feel the wheels spinning in their brains. Not only will readers try to figure out what TAP is all about, they will puzzle over bigger questions, such as why teens today are so fascinated by fame -- and what tricks big businesses use to keep teens distracted with desire so that "they don't see what's really out there."

In the end, ANGELS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD manages to be both glossy fun and philosophical. Readers won't figure out all of TAP's mysteries by the end, but they are sure to be thinking about its implications long after they've finished reading.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this book's fake social networking site. Why is social networking so trendy? Why are teens interested in posting personal pages on MySpace -- or videos on YouTube?

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