Review: Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

25131061Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 11+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Cancer

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Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN.

Gone is her mom’s attention and cooking and parent-teacher conferences. Gone is her sister’s trust ever since she’s been dazzled by the cameras and new-found infamy. Gone is her privacy. Gone is the whole family’s dignity as ATN twists their words and makes a public mockery of their lives on Life and Death. But most of all, Jackie fears that one day very soon her father will just be . . . gone. Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.


I kind of feel like I’ve been lied to. Like I’ve been mislead. What a deceptive blurb.

First of all, it makes ‘‘Life in a Fishbowl’’ seem like it’s mainly focusing on the TV reality show aspect, when that is not true at all. In fact, it takes at least 100 pages before that even happens. Which is 1/3 of the story.

And second of all, the blurb, again, makes it seem like it’s all about Jackie. Sure, she’s one of the characters, but no way is she the lead. NO WAY. In fact, this story is told from the 3rd person POV, and there are more than EIGHT different points of views. Not only one.

I didn’t like the writing style at all. It reminded me of the one in ‘‘The Light Fantastic’’ and ‘‘Spontaneous,’’ which are two books I could not finish reading. Guess ‘‘Life in a Fishbowl’’ joins the list. It’s not that Len Vlahos doesn’t know how to write, but he is TOO present inside the story.

In other words, it’s a pretentious writing style. I get that it’s an omniscient narrator, but that doesn’t mean we cannot feel as if the characters spoke to us themselves. Because Len Vlahos’ opinions and thoughts on people and situations are so present, it distracts us from really connecting with the characters.

And, also, it isn’t realistic at all. To tell you the truth, it made me really mad at first. I mean, the fact that a man is selling his life is a HUGE deal, when there have been (and may still be) tons of people who had to sell themselves or members of their families for reasons similar (though more grave) than Jared’s in the past. So really, is that so new? Or is it the camera that is new?

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