So this was a so-so romance/chick lit which changed mid-stream into a more “serious” novel that didn’t really work. I don’t know if Ranald handled it very well. The book also left a couple of things that I would have been interested in seeing handled into a fade to black type moment. I really wanted Gemma to just stand on her own two feet (which she seemed ready to do) but she seemed to only be focused on a relationship. Some readers may feel a bit out of depth with this book’s focus on YouTube and Vlogging. Even though I know about this whole thing I still found it boring to read. I will never understand YouTube stars becoming millionaires because they show you their clothes and make-up. I remember when I used YouTube to learn how to take my sink apart and install a new faucet. The ending was just okay, I don’t think I would follow another book about this character.
“The Truth About Gemma Gray” follows 20 something Gemma Gray (obviously). Gemma finally has a job working at a company that I would think is similar to Buzzfeed. Gemma also on the side does YouTube videos showing off makeup and clothing. When Gemma goes out to celebrate with her long-term boyfriend Jack, he tells her that instead of moving in together, he wants to travel the world, and not alone. Jack plans on going with his childhood best friend Olivia. Gemma of course is devastated, but Jack swears that after this trip he will return to Gemma and they can settle down. Of course that’s not at all what happens. Gemma starts her new job, realizes it’s going to entail her writing about cats for the most part. She looks for a new place to rent that is closer to London. And Jack slowly but surely starts to pull away from her. When Jack breaks up with Gemma via email (asshole) she realizes that he is with Olivia now and Gemma does an epic rant on her vlogger channel about what he has done to her and made her feel. Gemma quickly goes viral which opens up new job opportunities to her and even new romances.
So I did like Gemma. She loves Jack and just wants to move in together and start on the next thing in their lives. Jack though needs to go off and “find himself.” I would kicked his ridiculous butt to the curb. Gemma still has hope though until even she is waiting for the shoe to drop. I liked how Ranald had Gemma not being foolish and realizing slowly she was losing Jack. After her speech goes viral though I thought things were a bit off the rails with Gemma. She quickly gains notoriety and then tries to backpedal away from it and then she throws herself at the local barista in the nearby coffee shop she goes to. Then she meets a YouTube star and finds herself attracted to him. I really never got any idea why Gemma got involved in vlogging, what about it attracted her to it, etc. It didn’t help that she didn’t seem to be into fashion that much either.
The other characters were not given a lot to do in this one. Gemma has new housemates, Hannah and Richard (who own the home) and another lodger, Amy. We are just given little asides here and there that Hannah and Richard are house proud and weird. Eventually things change and Hannah and to a lesser extent Amy are brought to the forefront more, but wish it had been a lot earlier. A few times it felt like I was reading two different versions of this book.
Jack was a non-entity. I wish that Ranald had set it up a bit more to show us how the two worked together as a couple. The one love interest had a lot of development though. The second one, not so much. No spoiling on who is who though.
The writing was good. I think Ranald can spin a tale. I just think her deciding to work in a more serious theme didn’t work. She was already focused on YouTube and dangers with Vlogging. Trying to work in [redacted] gave an off feeling to the whole book. I don’t mind more serious chick-lit, but this one didn’t seem to focus too much on either issue besides bare bones it felt like.
The flow was off though. It took a while for me to realize that time was passing by. It felt like things were just happening one after another. I realized that this book starts in the spring of 2016 and ends that winter.
The book takes place in London, and besides reading about cool clubs here and there, I didn’t get a very good sense of the city. Ranald didn’t really make this stand out as a British chick lit book.
The ending was a disappointment though. I wish that Ranald had shown Gemma do a few things instead of us hearing about it after the fact. I also wish there had been more closure with her and Jack. Considering what happened before, it was a lame way to end things.