Book Review | Unrivaled by Alyson Noël

Unrivaled - Alyson Noël.jpg

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Everyone wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.


Opinion (no spoilers)

The book follows the story of four characters. They were all to be intriguing and unique. It was refreshing to read about all these different types of young people. They are not the stereotypical characters we see a lot in books and movies. As for the rest of the story, I was constantly surprised. Alyson Noël led me one way and then took one abrupt turn on another. The story was beautifully written as well. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves some good old drama.

Opinion (spoilers)

Writing style

I can’t really comment on the writing style of Alyson Noel. Considering I’ve read the Dutch translation of this book. But since I didn’t have issues with the translated version, I can only presume that it is written as good as the original.


My first impression of Layla was that she is a sweet girl. How wrong I was! I thought I could relate to her throughout the story since she has a passion for blogging. Although, she blogs for a whole other reason: she spills the tea about the Hollywood life. Her main goal is to make her blog one of the biggest reality-blogs there are. Because of this ambition, it was obvious she would not stay the innocent girl she might’ve been in the beginning.

I was rooting for Mateo and Layla to stay together. They seemed like a very down-to-earth couple who got along very well. I soon realized that it was a lost cause. They’ve held it longer than I expected. I appreciated that they both – mainly Mateo – didn’t give up their relationship without a fight.

Tommy is a mysterious guy. From the beginning until the end, I could never predict what he would do next. I can’t quite say what made him so secretive. He is a sharp guy who would do desperate things to get what he wants. He may not seem like it, but deep down he is very sweet. I wished I got to see more of Tommy, to be honest. Layla and Aster were both well thought-out characters. Only in Tommy’s story, something felt missing. He always ended first in the competition, but we didn’t get to find out in detail how he did it. He had original ideas, but that alone does not make him a successful promoter. And the most important thing of all, he didn’t confront Ira about being his son! I was eager for it to happen, but it didn’t.


Aster is my favorite character of all. At first, I saw her as a spoiled, mean-girl with an unanswered desire to be famous. She deals with a lot of difficulties with her family and the competition. I liked Aster because she acts true to herself. She wouldn’t do something important without serious consideration. But as every person in the story, she changes and does things she wouldn’t normally do. She was the one who went a little further than everyone else. Only sometimes, she was so passionate about getting to the top, it clouded her judgment.

As for Madison, I didn’t feel as connected to her like the other main characters. She acted exactly as I’d imagine a world-famous celebrity to act. She was wealthy and didn’t have to do any effort to get what she wants.

In the end, every act in the story felt true and valid. Every personality change seemed logical, given the circumstances. I appreciated that a lot.


Throughout the story, there were a lot of secrets. We didn’t know anything about Madison’s past. I was waiting on Tommy to tell Ira that he is his son. And there was a love triangle created between Tommy, Layla, and Mateo. These were all things that made me excited to read on. As the story progressed, I was more and more curious to how it will continue.  As my first impression of everyone had been shattered, I had no idea in which direction the story was going to go.

We didn’t get all the answers and that left me somewhat frustrated when I got to the end of the story. I am still not quite sure what Madison did in the past and I wished to see Tommy’s confrontation with Ira. Why did Ryan kill Madison? Or was it someone else? Was it Ira or Ryan who blackmailed Aster and made it look like she is Madison’s murderer? Or maybe it was Tommy or Layla? Ugh, I’m so confused!




Contemporary drama isn’t a genre I usually tend to read. At first, I didn’t think I was going to love this book. Eventually, I gave it a shot and it opened up my eyes! I may have not given this book five out of five stars, but it is definitely one I will not quite forget. It was such a different read than I’m used to. This book surprised me in so many ways. Definitely worth recommending!

What did you think of this book?

Thank you so much for reading! Liesje


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