Reality Gold, Tiffany Brooks

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No doubt about it, I was starting to catch gold fever

A year and a lifetime ago, Riley Ozaki was just an ordinary high school junior in San Francisco, stressing over boys and grades. 
 
Now Riley’s on a helicopter dropping into a deserted island with nineteen other teens, to star in a reality show that will be her redemption. She has no other choice. 

* * *
3 / 5

Reality Gold mixes ancient treasure hunting with a reality TV show setting, and it kinda works! There’s plenty of excitement between the gossipy drama of the show, Reality Gold, and our main character’s hunt for long lost treasure. But the book also seems torn between these two halves and tries to add too much shock value.

Why had I thought doing a reality show was the answer to all my problems? Would I ever learn to leave things alone?

Riley Ozaki was suspended from school for being involved in cooking weed brownies. When she tried to post a defence of her actions on social media she became a “rich girl meme”. Determined to change the public’s perception of her and driven by her treasure-seeking uncle’s death, Riley joins the reality TV show Reality Gold in order to hunt for gold on an island with restricted access. Half the book is about Riley and her new friends searching for treasure, the other half is her team completing challenges and trying not to get eliminated off the show.

The TV show itself is sort of like Survivor. The teens/young adults are split into two teams and they compete against each other in challenges. The losing team has to vote someone “off the island”. This aspect of the book didn’t really have a lot of tension for me because you knew that Riley would stay on because of her treasure hunting, and the challenges were pretty simple and boring. The important part is the relationships that Riley builds with her new team: we have Instagram models and app developers and mysterious individuals.

I could get kicked off the island, and wow, that would be a bad look. Spoiled rich girl caught cheating with her rich girl device to find gold so she’d be even richer

The show offers an enormous sum of money for anyone able to discover the hidden treasure on the island (like actual historical treasure, not placed by the show!). As the book progresses, Riley becomes more and more obsessed with gold and paranoia mounts. Is someone trying to injure her fellow competitors? Are her friends really trying to help her? Who is leaving Riley messages? This was the exciting bit of the book, for me, thought I personally felt that the ending was very anti-climatic and a bit of a let-down.

I really liked Riley and her relationships with a few of the other characters, like Maren, a quiet and angry young woman, and sweet, young, impressionable Willa. Riley is a rich girl, no doubt about it, but she’s also lonely and isolated after her public humiliation. She’s a thinker, she watches people, and she’s aware of her instant attraction to one of the guys and how silly some of her thoughts are. But whilst Riley was a strong lead, she wasn’t good enough to carry my interest through some of the more boring and ridiculous parts of the book.

Reality Gold is a fun, fast-paced novel that is loosely based around ancient treasure and Reality TV and is bound together with lots of drama and gossip.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Reality Gold. 

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