{Review/Giveaway} UNMAKING HUNTER KENNEDY by Anne Eliot

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

The following hook contains language that may be inappropriate for younger readers.

   "DAMN. SHE'S EARLY." Hunter Kennedy swallowed a lump of dread as he watched his mom's limo snake along the outer grounds. He shoved his iPhone into his pocket and covered his unease with a forced smile to Barry, his therapist. "She's never early."
   "This is good." Barry smiled back. "Shows responsibility."
   "Shows she doesn't want to miss the fun of dumping me off again. Plus if the woman came late, she'd have to take me home, right?"
   Barry didn't answer. He was also the owner of this fancy, fenced teen hospital. They both knew home was not an option. Instead, Hunter was heading for phase-two of his mom's latest crap-Hollywood-parenting plan: kid misbehaves, pay for therapy, ignore him, then convince others to handle the dirty laundry.
(Page 1, US e-book edition)

One night while I was enjoying an online launch party for Kelly Oram's latest novel CINDER & ELLA, I ran into a post from an author named Anne Eliot. She'd written a book entitled UNMAKING HUNTER KENNEDY, and the timing was fortuitous. I'd been putting together A Week of Shooting Stars, and the novel dealt with a pop star in hiding. The book had also won The Best First Kiss Award of 2013, so I was immediately intrigued and reached out to Eliot. The rest, as they say, is history.

UNMAKING HUNTER KENNEDY alternates POV between title character Hunter Kennedy and Vere Roth, the girl assigned to "unmake" him. Hunter is part of a successful music group called GuardeRobe, but has spent the last six weeks recovering from when he went off the deep end and cut himself. His mother and his band manager Martin have conspired to slip Hunter to Colorado undetected, where he will spend a year as a "normal teen" with his Aunt Nan. Nan asks two local teens, brother and sister Charlie and Vere Roth, to help "unmake" Hunter from a pop star into a nerdy, ordinary boy named Dustin McHugh. Vere has always had trouble talking to boys, especially her crush--and brother's best friend--Curtis. She agrees to help Hunter by pretending he isn't "real" and laerning how to interact with the opposite gender without blushing. But what is real and what is pretend? Both Hunter and Vere are so focused on their goals that neither sees what's in front of them until it's too late.

While I'm not always a fan of books where the POV switches from one character to the next and back again, I was pleased with the way Eliot gave a unique voice to each character. I could always tell when one ended and the other began. It was also nice going back and forth in their heads, because both Vere and Hunter were worried about very different things. Hunter has all this weight he's been carrying around that readers would never see if the story was solely told through Vere's eyes. Likewise, being there right alongside Vere and watching her grow and change was much more intimate because we were there with her. We're there for every awkward moment and cringing right alongside her. Hunter is completely burned out and jaded; he thinks everything wants something from him and doesn't care about him as a person. He needs someone like Vere in his life, someone who can treat him like she would anyone else and doesn't want to ride on the coattails of his fame.  Watching the two put together Hunter's new identity was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed watching their friendship bloom as the story progressed. I wished that Vere wasn't so blindesided by Curtis that she couldn't see the amazing human being Hunter was when he wasn't being forced to pretend. It's definitely a book that will have you rooting for characters and scenarios to happen!

While UNMAKING HUNTER KENNEDY isn't a new take on the romantic pop star in hiding theme, it's one that's fun to read. I could read stories with this trope forever and never get sick of it, especially if the characters always become as endearing as the ones in Eliot's novel do by the end. ESPECIALLY when the book doesn't revolve around insta-love and is, instead, rich with possibilities and options that may or may not come to fruition. 

(Although if you're weird like me, be prepared to mentally recalibrate your mind whenever you see someone using Vere's full name! I kept thinking she was going to grow up to be Veronica Roth and write DIVERGENT, lol! Even though that's not her name at all! ^.~ I'm so strange... But it got me every time!)

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( kissing; innuendo )
Language: PG13 ( cursing [as seen in above hook; innuendo] )
Violence: ( boy fight )
Other:  ( deals with depression and teen cutting; a teenage party; mentions of teen drinking/smoking )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

It's not my favorite, but you know I'm not a fan of most contemporary covers. The majority of the book does NOT revolve around romance, but rather, friendship, so it's not the best representation if someone is looking for a full-on romance. At the same time, the romantic cover also works for the novel, considering that it won a Best Kiss award.

Instead, I want to talk about the interior. Look, look, look!

Isn't that awesome? No, it doesn't make sense because neither character is very artsy (Though I like to think the title is written inside of a guitar pick, which does work with Hunter's love of the guitar). But who cares? It's cool and fun! I like it, and it broke the book into sections in an interesting way!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Anne Eliot
Release Date: Oct. 17, 2012
Publisher: Butterfly Books, LLC

After a car accident--an event he considers a prank gone bad--pop star, Hunter Kennedy is forced to hide out with his aunt in small-town Colorado. He’s supposed to rest, heal his scars and attend high school in disguise until the press dies down. But he only wants to get back to work.

Worse, the girl who’s been assigned to make him over into a geek is a major geek herself. Vere Roth is a chattering pixie, a blushing tornado and a complete social disaster. He’s never met a girl who’s never-been-kissed, believes in romance and thinks Hunter’s a 'nice' guy.

Funny thing is...Hunter is nice around Vere because she’s his first real friend. He also can’t seem to stop sharing his secrets or keep her out of his heart. Knowing he’d never deserve a girl as sweet as Vere, he resigns himself to the friend zone, and helps his new bestie with her own makeover.

She tortures him daily for ridiculous guy advice on how to snag her life-long crush. A guy Hunter thinks is totally wrong for Vere, and sadly, one who has taken note of Vere’s transformation.

When Vere asks her best friend for some kissing advice, Hunter can’t resist...

And that’s when things get out of control...

High School Romance, first love, sweet romance.

Anne Eliot writes sweet, first-love stories. She was raised in the mountains of Colorado, but says she really learned about life, love and friendships from summers spent with her large, Italian immigrant family in Ontario, Canada.

Anne Eliot’s first book, ALMOST, became a top 100 best selling Kindle book, and was a Readers Choice, Top 12 of 2012 book for Amazon.com at #11, and will be translated and released in Germany and Turkey fall 2013. Her second book, UNMAKING HUNTER KENNEDY, is a also a Kindle, top 100 best selling book in Teen Romance for 2013. She's also written HOW I FALL. She loves to hear from readers.



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