June 27, 2014

The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales

A partial list of what the LAPD reported it recovered in the search warrants: 'Pearl-style necklace, several rings with yellow metal and white stones, a ring with white metal and green stones, a ring with yellow metal and red stones, a ring with yellow metal and green and white stones, a Marc Jacobs purse, a Louis Vuitton purse, 2 Chanel purses, 1 Hermes purse, a Steve Madden shopping bag, a Blackberry Edge cell phone and an LG cell phone, 4 pairs of BCBG and Marc Fisher heels, a pair of True Religion pants (which are connected to Rachel Bilson), 2 bottles of Paris Hilton perfule, an Apple laptop, Gucci eyeglasses, Chanel eyeshadow, a Chanel makeup brush, Dior mascara, a Mexican passport, and a Washington State driver's license.'
-from The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
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Living so close to Hollywood, I have always been fascinated with celebrities, so it's no wonder I was intrigued to read the story of the group aptly named "The Bling Ring" in Nancy Jo Sales book of the same title. If you don't know the story, the bling ring refers to the group of well-to-do Angelino teenagers who broke into a variety of celebrity homes mainly because of their obsession with fame. Originally an article in Vanity Fair magazine, Sales expanded her story upon the production of Sofia Coppola's film about the group, and this book is the product.

I was let down to learn that this book is written like a news article instead of in novel form. The first quarter of the book was intriguing enough because readers learn the mindset of the teenagers involved and how easy it was for them to steal from some of the most rich and famous names in entertainment. But very quickly it got to the point where there was just too much discussion of too little information and the voice of the author became so condescending and judgmental that I could barely stomach to finish this book.

Nancy Jo Sales clearly (and seemingly blindly) puts one of the bling ring's ringleaders, Nick Prugo, on a sympathetic pedestal throughout the book, which is suspicious given that Prugo is the only character to openly discuss incriminating details regarding the actions of his group and legal case surrounding them. Whether Nick Prugo is telling the truth or not is not my place to say, but it seems Sales barely questions the legitimacy of anything Prugo tells her and instead paints him as a poor, lost teenager.

On the other side of the coin, Sales paints the girls involved, namely Rachel Lee and Alexis Neiers as air headed, vapid villains even though Prugo is just as guilty of involvement. Instead of exploring the root causes of their actions and the societal implications of these teenagers, Sales instead hammers judgement so strongly that it was uncomfortable to read. Initially I admit it was entertaining to read the character of Alexis Neiers that Sales painted, but eventually it was just pathetic because it was so harshly biased. I wish instead of berating the poor girl, Sales might explore her actions on a psychological plane. Clearly all of the kids involved in this suffer from some type of psychological disconnect from reality and rather than mocking them, it seems more fruitful that we look into the how, why, and what we can do to eliminate such actions in society and find a way to help them.

Ultimately this book should have remained an article where a much more limited amount of judgement and criticism would be contained in short form. Furthermore, I didn't need history lessons on fashion, reality tv, or Bonnie and Clyde, among other horribly boring tangents Sales decides we care to hear her wax on and on about.

I find it awfully ironic that The Bling Ring is ultimately a criticism of teenagers who are trying to obtain fame and fortune by leeching onto celebrities when the book is in actuality Sales' attempt at leeching onto Sofia Coppola's film to gain more notoriety. The sad thing is that neither the bling ring members themselves nor Nancy Jo Sales came out a winner and I would have appreciated learning about this story from a simple article rather than a whole book.

Bottom Line: I don't think I've ever said this before, but save your time and just watch the movie.


  1. too bad that the book is not well-proofed. to be honest, when i read the theme of it and heard that it's basically born from sofia coppola's movie, i was intrigued and curious. too bad, because the topic is really interesting. i hope the movie is good. i haven't watched it.

  2. This sounds obnoxious! Prugo deserves no pedestal, and just painting the girls as airheads is easy and tacky. The other tangents sound lame too, and how she can criticize celebrity culture is ridiculous. I wasn't that interested in this story anyway, but this makes me glad I wasn't!


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