Reality Gold

The Shifting Reality Collection

Young Adult - Adventure
398 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Francine Zane for Readers' Favorite

Tiffany Brooks starts off The Shifting Reality Collection with Reality Gold. Reality Gold features Riley Ozaki, a high school student whose poorly thought out editorial goes viral and makes her a social outcast. To redeem herself, she joins a popular reality show that turns into an all-out treasure hunt, and if that is not enough to grab the reader’s attention ... the island setting is cursed!

This young adult adventure is filled with all the mystery, suspense, backstabbing, romance, and personality clashes that one would expect in a reality show. Combine that with the thrill of an honest-to-goodness treasure hunt and Tiffany Brooks’ Reality Gold is a surefire winner. The diverse cast of characters gives everyone someone to root for, and the thrill of a treasure hunt makes for a page-turning read.

Brooks has a dynamic grasp of the English language. She created a large cast of characters, but does a professional job of distinguishing the key players so they are easily identifiable and complete with unique backstories, some of which are as interesting as the main story. This island adventure is filled with enough detail to delight all the senses while the dialogue and character interaction feel real to a group of strangers placed in unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous situations. If Reality Gold is a fair representation of the rest of The Shifting Reality Collection, the series is certainly worth awaiting. I predict teens and adults of all ages will find Reality Gold a worthy addition to their personal libraries. I know I do.

Liz Konkel

Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks is the first novel in The Shifting Reality Collection. Riley Ozaki has a tendency to make bad situations worse, which is what led to her getting kicked out of school and into an internet scandal. She's lost her friends and her good reputation, but she has a plan that will fix everything. That's why she agreed to join a reality show. She's going to prove to everyone she's not who they think she is, even if it means returning to the island where her father's long time friend was murdered during his search for treasure. Whoever can find the gold gets a reward. She's determined for that someone to be her. The closer she gets to discovering the treasure, the more bad luck seems to strike and threaten to halt all filming. Teaming with other competitors, Riley uncovers startling secrets that could put them all in danger.

Tiffany Brooks weaves together several elements into a fun and dangerous adventure. Reality TV is the focus of the story, but often feels like it's pushed to the background with Riley's personal journey-driven force. The main characters are teenagers so each of them is going through their own journey, which is rooted in their reason for joining. Some want the money for college while others are seeking a new beginning. The island is a fun setting as it's a mysterious and dangerous place with treasure and a curse. Riley has a temper, tends to act before she thinks, and suffers from anxiety, but she's so much more than her flaws. She's compassionate, strong, and easy to form a connection with. She's a sympathetic character who has made several mistakes, but her flaws are what make her easy to understand.

It's a fun adventure full of danger, but what really stands out are the friendships that are formed and the way the characters come to rely on each other. The characters are meant to compete against each other, but they end up forming different attachments which break the usual trope of reality television. Most of the other competitors are only briefly in the limelight with only a few thoroughly explored. Despite the danger and dramatics behind the show, the island offers her a real second chance for Riley to find herself. It's a place where each of these characters gets to put their past behind them and be someone new. Brooks unveils a brilliant debut novel in Reality Gold, mixing reality TV with an island adventure, a coming of age journey, and mystery.

Arya Fomonyuy

Reality Gold (The Shifting Reality Collection) by Tiffany Brooks is a young adult adventure that is well-crafted and features very realistic and compelling characters. The first time Riley Ozaki came into the internet limelight was when she was in junior high in San Francisco, and it has brought her a lot of pain, thanks to an ill-intentioned editorial in her school paper. She’s borne the shame for a year, and now she has the opportunity to get her revenge. For many people, it’s all about national exposure when she joins nineteen other teens to fly to a desert island to star in a reality show. But Riley has her own plans, and they will surprise everyone, including readers.

This is an exciting story with a bewitching setting; a cursed island. The writing is very beautiful, infused with charm because of the author’s rich narration and precision when it comes to syntax and phraseology. The writing is done to great dramatic effect, the scenes are well-written, focused, and each is imbued with a good dose of emotion. The writing combines an evocative style with insightful passages to create a plot that is as riveting as it is complex, with characters that readers can easily relate to. Lies, love, and betrayal, plus the desire to get into the limelight are amongst the themes skillfully woven into this story. Tiffany Brooks seems to understand what drives contemporary culture and she weaves it seamlessly into her work. Reality Gold (The Shifting Reality Collection) is one of the best things I have read in the genre of young adult adventure.