The Fame Game



OK series debut highlights the falseness of reality TV.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Not exactly a brain booster -- but reluctant summer readers may find enough here to keep them engaged. Check out our discussion questions for some ideas to get teens to think critically about The Fame Game.

Positive messages

Teens may be unclear about what the author is trying to say about reality TV and/or our celebrity- and thinness-obsessed culture, but parents can use our discussion questions to help their kids connect the dots. Readers will certainly walk away understanding that there's not too much that's real when it comes to reality TV.

Positive role models

Some backstabbing and manipulation, though Kate and Carmen are nice girls -- and fast friends. They try to be supportive of each other during a difficult situation (even though some tension does eventually spring up between them). Carmen's parents may be rich celebrities, but they try to give her a supportive homelife. Even the "bad" characters, like Madison, are shown to have some heart. Readers may be more disturbed by the way some of the characters starve themselves -- and submit to Botox treatments and plastic surgery -- to get their Hollywood looks.

Not applicable

Some kissing, flirting, and mentions of sleepovers, though nothing explicit is described.


Occasional swear words like "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "pissed," and "God."


Lots of products named, including high-end restaurants and labels like Lexus, YSL, Cartier -- and Botox. Also Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Dr. Pepper, Mustang, and lots of bands.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Underage characters drink champagne and go to bars and clubs where they have other drinks.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Fame Game is the first book in a series about young aspiring stars cast in a reality TV show. There's lots of shopping, starving to be thin, and Botox, plus underage characters who drink, swear ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "pissed"), and feud with one another. On the romance front, there's some kissing, flirting, and mentions of sleepovers, though nothing explicit is described. This book may encourage reluctant readers to read and get all teens thinking about the impact of reality TV. But overall, it's unclear whether the characters learn very much -- or whether the author has any other real point.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Aptly named producer Trevor Lord has a new reality show to launch: The Fame Game, about four aspiring stars living in Los Angeles and their attempts to claw their way into the limelight. He casts scheming Madison Parker (the backstabbing diva of author Lauren Conrad's last series, L.A. Candy) and emaciated entertainment host Gaby, as well as Carmen, an actress and daughter to a Hollywood power couple, and sweet Kate, a guitar-playing girl who moved from Ohio to become a singer and songwriter.

But even before the show airs, the girls' lives get a lot more complicated thanks to some off-camera manipulation from the producers: Madison has to deal with her deadbeat dad's sudden reappearance in her life, and Kate's new romance with a dashing soap star is jeopardized when he and Carmen -- cast as co-stars in a hot new movie -- start publicly pretending to be a couple. The Fame Game four may be looking good in trendy haircuts and designer labels, but inside they're starting to crumble.

Is it any good?


THE FAME GAME is a pretty superficial read. Even sophisticated readers will have a hard time piecing together what exactly Conrad is trying to say about reality TV (or aspiring stars who are willing to submit to surgery and starvation for a chance at fame). But teens looking for a fun series to while away hot summer afternoons at the pool will find enough drama and designer brands to get them through this debut installment. Bottom line? Not exactly a brain booster, but a fun enough guilty pleasure.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about reality TV. In The Fame Game, scenes are scripted to play up manufactured storylines, and stars are even fed lines from the show's producer. Does knowing this information change your feelings about reality TV? Why do you think it continues to be popular -- even when fans know it's fake?

  • Why do you think Lauren Conrad includes details like characters starving themselves and enduring surgery and other extreme procedures to look a certain way? Does she want you to judge the characters -- or our celebrity-obsessed culture?

  • Concerned parents may want to review Common Sense Media's Girls and Body Image Tips for some facts and discussion ideas.

Book details

Author:Lauren Conrad
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:April 3, 2012
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bycommonsense_jojo September 27, 2014

Pretty Good But Could Improve

This is a great book, believe me, but it could be slightly more improved as some parts of the entire series aren't really interesting including parts in the book. BUT, there is a lot of parts that do actually get really interesting and the 4 main characters: Carmen, Kate, Gaby and Madison change throughout the entire series as they go through the Fame Game that plays their life. The novel provides a fun plot and shows the difficulties of being famous and going through haters and rumors.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byLiamB1996 November 27, 2012

Awesome Book!

I really enjoyed this book, after reading the L.A. Candy books, I enjoyed this book out of all the ones she has written. I feel like it's the best book she has written so far and her writing has improved a lot. I really liked the character of Carmen, and i enjoyed Madison a lot more. She seemed a lot more human than just an evil The Real Housewives of who was out to get anyone who stole her limelight. I really enjoyed this book and I cant wait for the next one. These books are my guilty pleasure.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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