The Starlet Series is the most intricately layered social commentary wrapped in a love story I have read in the coming of age genre.
Starlet’s Light is the 3rd installment in protagonist’s Liana Marie Michael Durglo’s short life. She’s 18, begging for guidance, searching for a reason to endure the pain from Congestive Heart Failure, a consequence of her performance-enhancement drugs used to clutch onto a commercial product’s youth. Although she didn’t choose to take the drugs, Ms. Hanna makes it clear that young actors and their parents do choose plastic surgery.
The series demonstrates that both Hollywood and the Western society see actors not as people but as talent that must look too thin and too youthful and must do what it takes to stay that way. Everyone accepts plastic surgery on a teen in Hollywood as the price to pay for fame – forget that we’re cutting up kids – we as a society expect it – just as we turn a blind eye to doping and steroid use for athletes. We as a society need to know how that acceptance shapes us and cuts us, too. Starlet’s Light forces that introspection.
What I found clever in the series was that each book had a story arc, the two combined had an arc, and then the three stories combined had an arc. Wow. The arc in Web was trust/betrayal – betrayal/trust. Run’s arc was indecision/commitment/indecision. The arc in Light was suffering/acceptance. Look at the first scene in Starlet’s Web: social media skewers Lia for her success, her PR branding makes Evan dump her, leaving her alone but with better social liking. Look at the last scene in Starlet’s Light: social media saves her, providing her the means to companionship. As someone who appreciates the craft of writing, Ms. Hanna mastered the story arc.
She also flipped a genre requirement on its head. Romances require an obstacle to tear the couple apart but not enough to prevent that required happy ending. She examines the love triangle and shows that our beloved genre requirement means “cheating.” I suspect that she thinks that our stories influence our moral choices and we as a society are constantly reinforcing affairs in our love stories. If we were too dense to get her point, she has Lia’s character, Muse, filming one of the most famous love triangles of all times: Camelot’s demise. Ms. Hanna, I got it. Well done.
Full disclosure: Ms Hanna’s rep contacted me. I agreed to review on my blog but have now closed it due to health reasons.