Unscripted – Davis Bunn

Unscripted Davis Bunn
Unscripted by Davis Bunn
Published by Revell on October 1, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Christian
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two-half-stars

Young line producer Danny Byrd is well-known in Hollywood for being someone who gets things done on time and under budget. But when his reputation takes a beating after his partner--and former best friend--makes off with their investors' money, Danny has but one chance to redeem himself and restore his ruined career.

LA lawyer Megan Pierce has sacrificed years of her life proving herself to her impossible bosses only to find herself disgusted at their snobbery and their specious business practices. When an opportunity to actually make a difference comes her way, she knows she has to grab it--even though she's not entirely clear what "it" is.

Danny and Megan are each other's best hope for redemption. What they never could have imagined was that they might also be each other's best hope for love. Bestselling and award-winning author Davis Bunn takes you into the beating heart of Hollywood with two characters determined to thrive in a cutthroat business.

In a world of cutthroats and conniving, Danny Byrd has always stood out as a man of honesty and integrity. But when his partner cleans out their accounts and leaves him high and dry, Byrd has to painstakingly rebuild his reputation as a man who delivers on time and under budget on his films.

Meanwhile, LA lawyer Morgan Pierce finally tires of the grueling cruelty of her high-paced, high-paying, high-octane job and leaves it all, joining up with Byrd to serve as attorney on record for his latest film. Together, they launch out into uncharted waters, trying to stay afloat amid an industry trying to tear them down.

I picked up Unscripted because of the high praise it had received. Lawyers had applauded it. Filmmakers had demanded a sequel. NYT bestsellers were praising its emotional depth. I had never read any of Bunn’s previous books, so I didn’t know what to expect. And while I think that kind of praise might be overstated—however please note that I’m a simple blogger with zero Christys or Emmy or NYT bestsellers—it is clear that Bunn writes knowledgeably and passionately, crafting believable and true-to-life characters that draw you into the story.

My struggle with Unscripted was that Bunn seemed like he was trying to do too much. Danny Byrd’s swindling partner is a lifelong friend that was also his foster-brother. That’s a storyline that bears diving into, but it’s pushed away as an aside, even as we’ve given juicy tidbits like the two of them once robbed a bank as teenagers. Later, we learn of the partner’s motivations and, while they make sense of what we know of Danny, it was never a storyline that was developed and so comes out of left field.

Other parts of the story feel somewhat similar. After being released from jail, Danny is taken to a struggling Victorian-esque motel in the middle of nowhere—even he doesn’t seem to know why, so I didn’t really follow why either. He hears the owner’s teenage daughter playing the saxophone and immediately decides to make her a movie star. This is the impetus for the redemption story in which Danny and Morgan team up to make a TV movie. It’s all a little convenient, particularly the non-romance that suddenly becomes one between Danny and the girl’s mom during the waning pages of the book.

Overall, the book feels like the kind of movie that Danny and Morgan are trying to produce. I would expect this storyline to play out the Hallmark channel. The plot is a lot of dialogue, rather than action. There’s a lot of explaining, rather than showing. There are any number of tragic backstories, none of which receive a proper fleshing out. And everything finishes with a Great Big Happy Ending.

With that said, I can see why the industry insiders were drawn to it. It’s about representation. As a filmmaker, Bunn’s knowledge of the arena is on full display. The central figure of the book isn’t the characters, it’s the film and the process of making it. And, frankly, for me, that was the least interesting part of Danny’s story. Bunn’s characters outshine the story that he gives them.

If you’ve a love for the film industry, you should at least check this out. For me, I saw potential that was never realized. It was enough to make me willing to try another of Bunn’s books, but didn’t live up to the industry hype.

two-half-stars

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