Reality Gold

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 May 2018

Member Reviews

Read: 05/14-05/18

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. What caught my eye on this book was the title and the cover. It looked like it would be about hidden treasure and I was expecting it to be a time period book but what I got was something completely different.

Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks is about Riley, a teenager who recently found out that becoming famous on the internet is not necessarily a good thing. An incident at her private school that resulted in her suspension and the expulsion of her best friend caused Riley to write an opinion piece on the matter leading to public-shaming and her life is ruined. She dropped out of school and finished school off at home. A year later Riley decides the best way to get back in the public’s good graces is to go on a reality TV show with nineteen other teenagers. They will live on an island off the coast of Brazil competing for a cash prize at the end. However, this island also holds a hidden treasure worth millions that Riley is determined to find, believing that it will improve her image.

This book was a really fun read. It would be the perfect summer read whether you are lounging poolside, laying out on the beach, or just reading inside to avoid the heat. It has the tropical location and lots of drama. While the idea itself was cheesy it was easy to get drawn into the plot. Similar actually to a reality TV show. As I read the book I found myself thinking: I would totally watch this reality show. The author did manage to get me with a few twists at the end. I can honestly say I didn’t see them coming.

Riley’s character started off a little unlikeable. She was slightly annoying and selfish, to be honest. These traits were bearable because I was hoping that her character would change and grow throughout the story. And she did. There was some good character development for Riley. Her’s was really the only character that I loved though. There were a lot of side characters and they almost didn’t developed enough and just came across as stereotypes. This made it hard for me to get invested in any of Riley’s relationships.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fun and even had a little suspense to it. Who wouldn’t want to stay on an exotic island for a reality show with the chance of finding a hidden treasure? This book is published on May 22, 2018.

Rating: 7/10
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Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May.

Riley, a teen defamed on the Internet, returns to an island that she'd gone to before to seek Goonies-style hidden treasure, but for all to see on a reality show. Just as you'd expect from first-person narration of someone on a public forum who's trying redeem themselves, Riley goes through moments of frazzled clarity, disbelief, humility, calculation, and camaraderie - you know, like in real-life reality shows.  But, when the cameras and crew go a bit dotty from an island curse, will our heroine survive and take home the treasure and cash prize? (spoiler: yes, but by way of unexpected interlopers)
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Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks was a bit like taking Survivor and crossing it over with the Goonies. A group of 18-ish teens have signed up to film a reality show on an island where there’s a treasure that folks have searched for years to find.

After Riley Ozaki experiences being shunned by her fellow classmates for a scandal at her school she feels like the only way to erase her internet shame is to show everyone just who she really is by joining a reality TV competition. It doesn’t hurt that the show is being filmed on the very same deserted Black Rock island off the coast of Brazil that hides a stolen treasure of Inca gold.

As the teens are being dropped on the island they are told that not only will they be competing in challenges for the show’s prize of a million dollars they will also be able to search for the treasure for an additional cash prize if found. After being dropped off they are split into two groups and begin their challenges of surviving the island.

Reality Gold was a fast paced, action packed adventure from start to finish. You have the Survivor-ish reality side of competing teams and being voted off the island mixed with the One Eyed Willie’s treasure to find reading maps, finding clues and facing danger. There’s plenty of drama, danger and exciting adventure in the book to captivate while reading this one. It’s also very well done with bringing in today’s teen social media obsession and today’s technology to infuse those into the story. A fun read that I’d recommend checking out.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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"No doubt about it, I was starting to catch gold fever"

* * *
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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This book had a different kind of story, a bunch of teens on an island trying to find a hidden treasure to win a reality TV show. The main character, Riley, had a hard time in high school and then had been ostracized because of an editorial she wrote in her school paper. She decided to join this Reality Show to redeem herself and therefore be in the public eye in a more positive light. It kind of reminded me of Survivor, which I have never really seen much of, but imagine this is how it went except with teenagers. The story was good but it took a lot for me to finish the book because it seemed kind of drawn out, and there were a lot of characters to keep track of as the story progressed with a few silly developments. Definitely a fun story and a quick read.
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