Did Kylie and Kendall Jenner write a young adult novel? What is it about?
Kylie and Kendall Jenner, who exist, have (kind of) written a young adult novel. It’s called Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia. It has nothing to do with other Lexes of note, but it does uphold the rule about not putting multiple punctuation offsets into a title. Remember, aspiring writers: doing so reflects poorly on the quality of your product.
As you might expect, the book has gotten fairly scathing reviews. Over half of its ratings on Goodreads are one or two stars. Professionals are reading it so that no one else has to. But, if you would like to check it out for yourself, MTV has done the courtesy of publishing the first two chapters online, which is an oddly egalitarian move for a corporation whose audience does most of its reading on screens bright enough to be used as reading lights for actual bound books.
Now, this is the point in this sort of article when one is supposed to turn one’s own snarky editorial sights on the book and its authors. It’s tempting to do so; it’s not difficult to take shots at a product you know is going to be terrible from the moment of its conception. Nor is it dull. Low-hanging fruit is delicious! Why reach when you can grab? We’ve all, from time to time, made fun of the vapid mistakes of vapid celebrities. (Remember when this happened? And then when everyone held Kendall to the time-honored brains-beauty double standard?)
The thing to realize about this particular product, though, is that it isn’t bad enough to damage any expectations anyone has about its ostensible authors. No one believes that Kylie and Kendall Jenner are capable of writing a good book; the fact that their names are on the cover of a run-of-the-mill bad one should therefore come as no surprise.
There are two more names associated with this book–they’re both on the copyright page, which is usually the most interesting one in celebrity-penned works–that deserve attention. The first and least interesting belongs to Elizabeth Killmond-Roman, the Jenners’ manager, whose credit as ghostwriter functions like Peter Grant’s title as “Executive Producer” on Led Zeppelin albums. (You’re welcome, Mrs. Killmond-Roman.) It’s a business designation that has nothing whatsoever to do with any actual writing.
The second of the two other names, the fourth overall, is the one worth thinking about. Maya Sloan is “an award-winning author” with MFAs in creative writing from Boston University and fiction writing from the University of Arkansas. She’s the person who actually created this actually real object. If anyone’s responsible for it, it is Maya Sloan, above all.
Is that a call to excoriation? Quite the opposite. Sloan’s move was the shrewdest of everyone associated with this book. Because Kylie and Kendall Jenners’ names are on the cover, she gets overlooked in the media shark attack on them; she collected what had to be a pretty nice paycheck up front for her effort, plus maybe even some back-end royalties now that the effort is something you can put down money for; and, most importantly for all the writers in the house, she isn’t stuck teaching more classes than is responsible while trying to finish her next novel.
Maya Sloan took a writing job and did well for herself by it. Like Francis Ford Coppola making The Godfather so he could get the studio to approve Apocalypse Now or Joan Rivers explaining the life of a working artist to Louis CK (and turning him on in the process), Sloan has taken a step toward something she wants for herself. Is she a fantastic writer? Is the thing she wants going to nourish the world and change it for the better? Who the hell knows? And who cares. The real story isn’t that a couple of teenagers made fools of themselves. It’s that there’s a smart adult behind them, and behind the people behind them, helping them all do it.
And in any event, if you’re really interested in a science fiction novel that blends the economic disparity of Dickens with the palace intrigue of Game of Thrones and the “chosen one” tropes of the Bible–and a whole hell of a lot more besides–do yourself a favor and stick with the classics.