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HDU (HDU, #1)

HDU (HDU, #1) - India Lee OH NO THEY DIDN’T: THE NOVELHDU (aka How Dare You) came to my attention thanks to the website Oh No They Didn’t, a celebrity gossip community with a penchant for blistering commentary. No, I am not going to tell you who I am on there. Don’t ask. Ms. Lee was kind enough to reveal that HDU is inspired by ONTD, so I was immediately hyped to read. Who can say no to blistering celeb commentary that is more about the commentary than the celebs?HDU is about an anonymous gossip community moderator who has lost basically everything until a very well known male celebrity invites her to pose as his fake girlfriend. Imagine if Perez Hilton was anonymous and was invited by Paris Hilton to become her fake boyfriend. Except ew, that sounds exceptionally gross.Beyond the premise (which is rather unbelievable, knowing ONTD the way I do), this book was humorous and lighthearted. I admittedly do not read many self-published novels because I’ve had some bad experiences. Poor editing, poor covers, poor synopses, and poor author behavior are among them. But after a friend pressed me to read this one, I dove in and finished it quickly. It’s a sugary story good for when you’re low, and it brings all the emotions you could expect with a story of backstabbing, stages, tabloids, and awards ceremonies.YOUNG HOLLYWOOD GONE WILDFiguring out in your head what characters might be based on real celebrities is half the fun. For some reason, I kept picturing Liam Brody as the love child of Liam Hemsworth and Zac Efron, and Amanda Nathan as a less annoying Lena Dunham. I have no idea why. My mind works in mysterious ways.The characters, despite some ridiculous choices they make and tiny slips out of character (like Amanda’s more flirtatious side), I really found myself pulling for Amanda to get the guy of her dreams. In my mind, which might not be reality, Amanda seemed like a girl caught between a rock and a hard place with three guys vying for her attention. But maybe I was making up a relationship between Amanda and her fellow moderator Ian, a damaged soul who aspires to make movies while dealing with drug issues. And her celebrity suitors? Both were interesting. Especially the British actor of her every fantasy…This story is about a girl finding herself after escaping her best friend’s betrayal, a betrayal I didn’t quite get. Or a revenge I also didn’t understand. But this isn’t the type of story where you dwell. Move on and enjoy the ride, that is what I told myself.NEW ADULT CONTEMPORARY THAT DEFIES EXPECTATIONSI went into HDU expecting to find the usual NA tropes – broken girl, broody boy, a lot of sex. But there wasn’t any sex, and the girl is remarkably defiant and stands up for herself, even if she is caught in a world she doesn’t understand. And she’s ready to protect herself from this crazy new world. I loved Amanda and rooted for her, even if she did some things I could never connect with – like have a fake relationship with a celebrity she met over the internet.The writing in HDU is very good, and it’s clear that Ms. Lee put a lot of time and effort into perfecting this story. Once I was done, I immediately went and picked up a copy of the first book of her Hidden Gems series off of Amazon (it was free!) because I have a feeling that her YA will be just as good. Juicy, celebrity-filled gossipy writing is my thing, and HDU helped me to discover that.I cannot wait for book two! Any guesses on the title? My money is on IKR or TL;DR. I just like those two.VERDICT: A light, fluffy, but serviceable story of celebrity gossip and improbable romances, HDU is warm and charming – and defied my expectations. A great read.