Nancy Jo Sales reported on the teenage crime ring, dubbed “The Bling Ring”, for a Vanity Fair article years ago. In this novelization, she strives to expand on the findings from her magazine article coinciding with the release of the Sofia Coppola movie of the same name. Sales had access to most of the young people in the crime ring, with some fairly open and candid interviews. Most of the point of views were from Nick and Alexis and therefore may be biased in that respect.
The crime spree had happened between 2008-2009 and I’m actually surprised I hadn’t heard too much about it at that time. Perhaps I wasn’t paying as much attention to celebrity news then but the first I really heard about them was when there was so much publicity surrounding Emma Watson being cast in the movie. It’s certainly an interesting and intriguing story. How did this small group of teens manage to burgle so many celebrities, and how was it that easy to gain access to those homes? Wanting to find out more, I picked up the book at LAX. (when in Rome…)
Immediately I noticed the absurd amount of quotation marks used in the book. It was so jarring and difficult for me to get into the story because I understand Sales wants to illustrate that she’s using their actual words, but “almost” every “group of words” seemed to “be in” “quotation marks”. But just like that, it was interspersed with her own narration to lead into these few-word quotes. Irritating. It also felt extremely repetitive. Keeping in mind that this was originally a magazine article, trying to stretch it out into a 250+ pg novel is tough. There was a lot of repetition and jumping around. The timing of events seemed to jump ahead, and back, quite often.
There was some commentary in the novel made by Sales that were at times thought provoking, conversation-starting but also generalizing of a certain type of generation. The narcissistic, we’re-all-famous craze of some youth is not indicative of all youths at this time. Reality show personalities, self-made Youtube superstars, all of that is a relatively small snapshot of people – young and old – these days. That is not reflective of the entire society as a whole. That being said, the media circus surrounding the Bling Ring, and now subsequently a book, a TV movie and a blockbuster movie about them surely have given them what they were hoping for – celebrity status. A month or so ago I remember seeing Nick stopped by TMZ to be asked about the upcoming movie release. It’s come full circle.
I really thought I would enjoy this book more and at the core of it, the true story itself is still an interesting one. What I wanted to know more about were the choices made for the movie. I understand it’s a fresh case, but according to the article/book, Nick & Rachel seemed to be the masterminds, and yet in the movie (which I admittedly have yet to see), it feels like Emma Watson’s character is the leader. Even that Emma, cast as the Alexis character, isn’t named Alexis. All the names had been changed for the movie but all other details are seemingly the same – even getting access to Paris Hilton’s actual home for the film. I would have loved more insight into why Sofia would change certain elements of the movie but other parts making it as real as possible. That being said, I did get through the book relatively quickly. I think the parts that did really capture my attention made me want to find out what happened to them, and I just kept waiting for something substantial. Overall, I think I the Vanity Fair article alone would have sufficed.