JoeyPinkney.com Book Review
3 of 5 Stars
All that glitters isn’t gold in Azarel’s novel “V.I.P”. Once the smoke clears and mirrors are pulled away, Royce and India’s pasts could affect their futures.
Royce is a R&B singer who dreams of making it big in the music industry to take care of her young son and leave her millionaire, NFL boyfriend who could care less about marrying her. Royce has the skills to be a platinum-selling singer/songwriter/performer, but is that all it takes?
India wants what every groupie wants: all the trappings of the good life without working for it. If it wasn’t for her down-to-earth friend Rachel, India would be in over her head before she could put on her fake designer shades. Dreams of being a celebrity football player’s wife may be what she needs to wake up to the harsh reality of her desires.
Just when you relax enough to think India and Royce are casual friends, you learn that their histories are intertwined and go way back…
What did I like about “V.I.P”?:
The supporting characters were amazing. They played their parts well. Characters like Royce’s “friend” Tayesha, Royce’s boyfriend Trae, India’s close associate Rachel and India’s gentleman caller Mr. Haskins added balance and motion to Royce’s and India’s adventures without overtaking story. The villain Latrell, the anti-hero Romello and the nemesis Agent Miles were also integral to the plot without being domineering. Speaking of the plot, most of the plot twists were exciting. Some of the developments were exciting to see unfold. For me, the first third and the final third of V.I.P. were great to read.
Between Royce and India, I quickly became an India fan. Why? Because her reactions to the way the world evolved around her were very consistent and made sense. Not to say what she did was based on logic – quite the opposite. India’s worldview was disturbing and annoying. She was entertaining and did not slow the story down one bit.
Although Royce’s plight will tug at your heartstrings, I think India is a much more interesting character. (More on Royce later.) Dealing with confidence issues stemming from the way her mom abhorred her from an early age, India’s worldview is equal parts “fake it until you make it” and “something for nothing”. As terrible as India’s ways are, Azàrel wrote her in a way that makes you hate her and feel sorry for her at the same time. Plus, the way that India says text acronyms like TTYL and ILY letter-for-letter when speaking to others was absolutely hilarious as the novel progressed.
Between the two main characters, Royce had more external drama going on than India – especially in the first half of the book. India’s totally self-absorbed view of the world was so perplexing that I hated that I loved reading more and more of her plight. There were many times where “normal” things were happening around India (like going to an airport or getting married), but her filter was so skewed that her reactions were far more interesting than the drama itself. I don’t feel like she had a strong enough presence to have her own full length novel, but she definitely made for an entertaining read.
What I did not like about “V.I.P”?:
I love drama as much as the next reader, but I felt like Royce had too much going on – at times. I understand that this is fiction, but I couldn’t conceptualize the amount of physical, mental and sexual abuse (and extortion) that Royce encountered in spurts throughout the novel. When these “plotsplosions” happened, they left me scratching my head and retracing the series of events.
There were quite a few editing errors that made it hard to enjoy this story. At times, I paused from reading to figure out why a phrase didn’t make sense. Things like characters claiming to hear dial tones when cell phone conversations ended were agitating. There were many places where the dialogue and narration could have been stronger. There were times where the narration was overwritten. Fewer words would have sufficed.
A thorough edit would have made this book a better-paced, easier-to-follow read. However, even with the flaws that I felt it had, there were more than a few powerful moments that had my heart racing and my head shaking (in a good way) before I realized it. If you read to escape the tedious monotony of your life, this tale can quickly absorb you into its folds. “V.I.P” by Azarel was one of those books where the reader in me enjoyed it, but the reviewer in me had some strong reservations.