Stephanie Reviews Author Submitted “American Idol” by S.C. Hayden

American Idol by S.C. Hayden (Submission)
Genre: Fiction/Satire
Rating: 2.85 out of 5 stars

Summary: Two friends, tired of the way their lives are going, come up with a brilliant scheme to revive the oldest religion, Idolatry, and sell it to the American public for big bucks. Sporting purple bath robes and flashy cowboy hats, Prophets of Idolatry Zoltar and Orbitron create a big bang and the ripples are felt around the world. As they hoped, the two become millionaires, but soon learn that there can be major consequences to having so much money so fast and especially when you’ve insulted pretty much everyone in the world earning it. Threatened by cults and Iran and even the U.S. government, Gus and Desmond try to keep their heads above water, but soon find themselves lost in the crazy world they created.

Greetings and welcome to my first review of an author submitted book! That’s right, you submit your book and one of us lovely ladies will read it and review it for you. I volunteered for American Idol as it seemed to be up my alley – a satire on religion where a couple of dudes decide to make up their own religion to make big cash. This is always a good idea – taking money from idiots who are dumb enough to actually believe you, right? Well…maybe not so much.

Two best friends – Gus and Desmond – along with Desmond’s sister Mary Alison start up the American Idol Company. This company sells Idols – people purchase them and pray to them and give offerings and they are supposed to help you with money, luck, fame, etc. depending on which Idol you buy. Gus and Desmond make the Idols extremely popular by going on TV as Idol Prophets Zoltar and Orbitron and being absolutely horrible and ridiculous to get publicity. Soon Idol-mania is rocking the nation and they are rolling in dough.

But at some point it goes a little too far – crazy religious cults spring up all over the place in opposition to the American Idol Company. And not only that, but they manage to piss off pretty much every type of religious group there is – they even have Iran threatening war against America by the end. Clearly they didn’t know quite the level of fire they were playing with, although they seem pretty pleased with themselves….until the downward spiral of destruction that starts to follow them everywhere. You should really be careful when starting your own religion!

This book is very much like a farce – although I think the intended message is a little bit deeper. But it is very plot driven and uses humor constantly to twist our reality just a enough. This makes it seem ridiculous, but when you think about it, it’s not really that far off. Idols really would make Glenn Beck cry on the floor for an hour.

I did have a few problems with the story. I just didn’t really like the characters that much. Again, as I said earlier this book is very farcical so it’s not necessarily about the characters as much as it is about the overall story, but I personally like to feel a connection with characters. That’s one of the main things I love about reading and this book didn’t really do that for me. The story is really just told by an omnipotent narrator rather than being character driven. Besides that – Desmond, Gus, and Mary Alison are all kind of…jerks. Like not at all people that I would want to know or hang out with. It mentions casually that they’ve all done cocaine, as soon as they have money they are totally rude and curse out people constantly who are just trying to do their jobs, and their gross use of words like “dyke” and “retarded” got on my nerves. (Obviously I get that real people say those things all the time, but not the type of people I want to party with!) I also understand that Zoltar and Orbitron were doing a lot of stuff to be racist and horrible on purpose to get publicity, but I just can’t imagine doing that sort of thing to other people who really don’t deserve it. I guess this too is making a statement about what money or what the promise of money can do to some people, but I still am convinced that if I had millions of dollars I would NOT be a giant asshole about it. Anyway, I would just say that I personally prefer character driven books so a lot of the time the narration was jarring to me.  This was my main reason for rating low, but this may be just a preference thing.

Something I would just like to point out also that makes me CRAZY is the way Destiny (Desmond’s stripper/heiress girlfriend who later runs away to join a cult) thinks of herself as a virgin even though she’s had oral and anal sex. (This is nothing against the writing as obviously people like this do exist, just bringing it up as something that grinds my gears.) Like – sex is right in the name. There is nothing pure or innocent about her. And that’s FINE. Why does she have to pretend to be a virgin? How is that important to anything? She probably doesn’t think gay people should get married either. Discuss.

Also – I have questions. Originally Desmond and Gus were making up a religion to make money. Again – excellent idea. But by the end – it seems Gus really believes this nonsense and thinks he’s talking to God. He really ends up believing this? Was it supposed to be really happening? Rob (the poor gay kid who doesn’t know it and is desperate for a place to belong) flits around to different religious/fanatic groups, but does he really believe what they’re preaching? Are some people really this pliable that they will just come to believe literally anything? I mean, I know people will believe anything – but surely once they do they stick to that one thing? It’s rather disturbing to me! It makes me think maybe they didn’t really believe it in the first place.

I think this book does bring up some good points about how far people will go for things like money and acceptance. I also think it brings up some good points about how absolutely CRAZY people are and how they may react when their beliefs are threatened. In this book, the outcomes are a little extreme, but not totally outside the realm of possibility. I never believe people who say that they respect other people’s beliefs. If you REALLY believe in whatever your thing is – then you think you are right and that everyone else is wrong. And when you don’t have any evidence to support your beliefs – well it might be scary when someone is out to prove you wrong.

Overall I agree with the final conclusion that faith is dangerous. Of course it is. But looking to God for help isn’t going to…well…help anything at all. You’ve got to choose to do good and do the right thing – for the sake of yourself and others. I don’t think any of the characters in this book made that choice. Idols aren’t going to help you, a man in the sky isn’t going to help you, praying to snakes isn’t going to help you. You’ve got to help yourself and see the beauty in the world for what it really is.

And seriously kids, don’t do drugs.

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6 thoughts on “Stephanie Reviews Author Submitted “American Idol” by S.C. Hayden

  1. “… You submit your book and one of us lovely ladies will read it and review it for you.” Except for Cassie-wa who was fired for failing to write three paragraphs in nine hours.

    I’m thinking about naming my first child Orbitron.

    • A guy I know was talking about a hippy friend of his who was going to let his child name himself.
      “If we let our kids name themselves,” he said, “there will be a lot of six year old boys running around with names like, ‘Orbitron, Defender of the Universe!'”

  2. Stephanie,

    Thank you for a thorough and well thought out review.
    American Idol means a lot to me and I always read reviews with some trepidation.
    I probably shouldn’t, but I can’t help it.
    Fortunately, I didn’t cringe too much reading yours.

    A few things. The Characters in American Idol serve as metaphors for, not just everything that is wrong with religion, but everything that is wrong with religion, consumerism, excess and greed. So, their behavior is sometimes less than ethical.

    As far as not being sure whether, by the end, Gus is playing a role or really talking to God (or at least believing that he is talking to God)? That was intentional. Kind of a Donnie Brasco thing.

    And Destiny calling herself a virgin? That too was a metaphor. There are places in the world where technical “virginity” is a commodity linked to the “value” of a potential bride. It is not unheard of, for women in religious countries to engage in premarital sex, then undergo surgery to reverse their loss of virginity.
    http://iwpr.net/report-news/virginity-still-commodity-iran
    It’s a horrible practice, I know, but American Idol is all about showcasing the horrible.

    Anyway, thank you for reading and reviewing my book. Keep up the good work with the Bibliomantics. You have a nice little blog here.

    • No problemo! And yeah, that is totally horrible – that obsessed with being a virgin thing just gets under my skin. As if sex is a bad thing compared to all the nonsense people get up to – as you showed in your book!

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