Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Every Day Is A Blast #2: 'The Vanity Game'

Each day for seven days I'll be looking back at one of the Blasted Heath books I've read and reviewed. The second in this series of blog posts is 'The Vanity Game' by H.J. Hampson.

With her debut receiving accolades from the likes of Megan Abbott and Spinetingler magazine – ‘The Vanity Game’ had much to live up to. Lucky H.J. Hampson delivered in spades. When 2012 is all said and done, ‘The Vanity Game’ will be on my ‘best-of’ list and a few others too. My review originally posted in May 2012 on Goodreads and Amazon is below:

‘The Vanity Game’ combines the easy murder of Jason Starr with the black humour of Douglas Lindsay. Fusing the glitz and glamour of high fame A-List celebrity with the gore and grime of the violent underworld, Hampson’s debut novel spotlights the darker side of the entertainment industry. For soccer star Beaumont Alexander, life as he knows it is about to spiral out of control following a brutish encounter at a celebrity party. That one incident leads to a chain of events which ultimately sees Beaumont loose his grip on reality and perception of truth.

In this pulse pounding thought provoking look at fame and its perils, Hampson creates a world where false reality is an all too believable concept. The Substitutors read like the brain child of Duane Swierczynski in their sleek and evocative chameleon-like nature and would be right at home within works such as ‘Expiration Date’ and ‘Fun & Games’. Each rendition and interaction dilutes the illusion as Beaumont comes to terms with his predicament while seeking solace through the comfort of sharp objects and blunt force trauma to rid his too real demons.

The evolution of the lead character cannot be underestimated; Hampson draws inspiration from a well known real-world mould then constructs a profile loaded with a God complex, insular outlook, and destructive nature. Beaumont goes from being abusive, rude, and obnoxious, to accidental murderer, then victim until the metamorphous is complete rendering him a far different being to the one who first appeared at that fateful celebrity party.

The ever changing girlfriend, Krystal McQueen is a joy to read and comes across as an Alice in Wonderland thrown into a life vastly different from her upbringings. Hampson did a great job at reflecting the correlation between the popular story and her female lead (the decorative pieces within the Love Palace were a nice touch). Like Beaumont, the reader’s reactions and feeling towards her will vary as the story progresses.

'The Vanity Game' is a damn fine read through and through. I sure hope we see more from H.J. Hampson in the near future - she is a talent not to be missed.

More info on 'The Vanity Game' can be found on the Blasted Heath website:

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