I first saw this book when I was sixteen. My favourite place to hang out was the bookshop and I use to spend all my money there. I remember picking up this book a few times and reading bits of it. I wanted to buy the book but never got around to it. Eventually, all the copies were gone and I forgot the title of the book and author. I tried to search for a copy online but that was hard to find without name of the book and the author so I never got anywhere. Fortunately, I found a copy in a thrift shop and bought it.
The Fifth Quest is a fictional fantasy TV show similar to Xena. The star of the show is Ashtari, a warrior princess who also has magical powers and can speak almost all ancient languages. Ashtari travels the lands righting wrongs with her trusty sidekick, a half dog man Kish and hunky brother Xanthus.
‘Zumara is too old to continue the girl’s training’ explained the fortune teller. ‘The time has come for you to fetch Maya and take her on as your apprentice.’ (p. 3 The Fifth Quest).
Fifteen year old Rosie Cordell and her friend Nadia are obsessed with the show. They mouth the words when they watch and spend hours talking about the littlest details. One day, there is an audition for a new sidekick for the Quest series and Nadia drags Rosie along to the audition. Rosie wins the coveted role of Maya, the new companion. The book is about Rosie’s journey through fame and how it impacts on her friendship with Nadia.
I don’t even think she meant to put me down. It’s just that Nadia’s opinions were so loud and they whooshed through her brain so fast, she drowned out other people’s ideas without even realising she was doing it. After a while it gets to you and you give up expressing your opinion. (p. 96 The Fifth Quest).
The book alternates between chapters on the TV show and Rosie’s life. Rosie matures through the experience starting off as naïve and a bit of a pushover into someone more assertive. Rosie has to deal with the entertainment industry types with all their egos and smooth talking. As an adult, I groaned at some of the stuff that she got lead into but I realised that I could have been the same at that age. I also liked the difficult relationship that Rosie had with Nadia, as Nadia was really the one who wanted to be an actress. The two suffer from a lot of misunderstanding and jealousy which resolves near the ending.
I also liked the behind the scenes look at what goes on a TV show. Debra Oswald was a writer for many Tv shows and films so some things in the book are drawn from her experiences. I also think that she balances the perks of fame and the downside in an honest and realistic way. The book is a fun read and I think teenagers will like it, particularly those wanting to be actors.