[REVIEW] The Standout

Series: A Robin Bricker Novel
Laurel Osterkamp
 adult, mystery, contemporary
 November 10, 2015
Publisher: Kindle Press
Purchase: Amazon

First Robin gets the email with its simple demand: dump your fiancé or else. Then someone puts up the slanderous Rotten Robin Website that threatens to crush her chances to win The Standout, a ballet-themed, fashion reality show. Surrounded by backstabbing co-contestants and haunted by mysterious ghosts from her past, Robin can't trust anyone, including herself. Her only allies are Zelda, a ballerina and model, and her older brother Ted, both of whom have ghosts and secrets of their own.

The Standout is a psychological thriller about love and betrayal, life and death, tall buildings, and finding the courage to jump.

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I got this book from Kindle Scout. I wasn't expecting so much from it although I was honestly interested in this book because of the reality show premise and the mystery (you know me and mystery). I wasn't interested in the fashion side though - was never a fashion person.

There are three POVs in The Standout: Robin, Ted, and Zelda - Robin's model. Robin's POV was the most thrilling generally because hers tackles the mystery - that email that threatens her from marrying Nick. I like the pacing - how it establishes Robin's background, to her relationship with Nick, to Nick's family, to her experience with the email. I like how it all played out and each detail helps in building up the suspense - Robin's paranoia, her relationship with Nick, and, of course, the reality show.

"And I found my place in life; I'm the guy who makes the hard choices that nobody likes, and thus, nobody likes me either." -loc1569

Ted's POV was mostly about himself - hi character and how he slowly develops throughout the course of the novel - while he struggles to fix is life, his encounter with his mother's mysterious note, and helping Robin in solving the threatening email sender. I like getting to know Ted. I like how he grew as a person and how thrilling his POV is. It kept up with Robin's pace.

Zelda's POV, on the other hand, was my least fave - okay, I didn't like hers at all. It was generally romance with a sprinkle of Robin's mystery. It's about her friendship with Julie, and Yuri. This kind of stuck with the whole betrayal feel that was set in the beginning.

The mystery is The Standout's strongest point for me. It's a psychological thriller mystery given the paranoia the threatening email is giving Robin and Nick. There was no focus on solving the mystery though, it's mostly on how Robin feels, how she's so anxious that someone's ruining her life, how she practically doubts Nick's sister, Andrea, and how paranoid she gets thinking about her ex-best friend. Being in the reality show did not save her from all the crazy things happening in her life. It just made things worse.

The competition in the reality show, the backstabbing, the faking, and the cheating. It's not just about Robin's relationship with Nick, it's about Robin being Robin in general and some of the competitors are threatened. The Standout really kept me thinking and totally did not guess the sender of the email.

What I didn't like about The Standout, aside from Zelda's POV, is the sequence of writing. I do get that Osterkamp wants to establish each character well - what brought them to the Standout or what made them want to help Robin. But going around a character until a certain event in the story and going waaaaay back in the beginning in order to introduce the next perspective is just anticlimactic. At least that's what I felt. When I was already on the edge of my seat reading Robin's POV, it suddenly changed to Ted and it just broke the spell. The same goes from the Ted to Zelda's POV but more disappointing because Zelda isn't as thrilling as Robin's and as compelling as Ted's.

"Get yourself together, don't be afraid, and jump." -loc1924

OVERALL, The Standout is a psychological thriller with a mystery that kept me curious and guessing. I like the whole reality show concept. It did not disappoint and was mixed well with the mystery. Although I had issues on the whole changing of POVs for the first three changes, it still worked out for me in the end. It's not a highly recommended read but it would be a nice read if you're interested in mystery and would love to read something that features fashion as well.

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What I Like: (1) the psychological thrilller, (2) the mystery that kept me thinking, (3) Ted's POV - definitely my fave here, (4) how well established the characters are - the first three chapters did well in doing this but not so much in making the story exciting

What I Didn’t Like: (1) Zelda being annoying and at some point, I think she isn't really that important, we can leave without her POV, (2) the sequencing of story - could have been better,

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