Review: The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales

May 16, 2013 4 - 4.5 Stars, Nancy Jo Sales, Non-Fiction, True Crime 11 ★★★★

The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
Published by It Books on May 21, 2013
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

Meet the Bling Ring: six club-hopping LA teenagers accused of stealing more than $3 million in clothing and jewelry from the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and other young members of the Hollywood elite-allegedly the most audacious burglary gang in recent history.


Driven by celebrity worship, vanity, and the desire to look and dress like the rich and famous, the Bling Ring made headlines in 2009 for using readily available sources-like Google maps, Facebook and TMZ, to track the comings and goings of their targets. Seven teens were arrested for the crimes, and instantly became tabloid fodder. The world asked-how did the American obsession with celebrity get so out of hand? And why did a band of ostensibly privileged LA teens take such a risk?


Vanity Fair reporter Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: they did it because they could. And because it was just that easy.


Author of the acclaimed Vanity Fair story on the Bling Ring "The Suspect Wore Louboutins," Sales gained unprecedented access to the Hollywood thieves, and in the process uncovered a dark world of teenage arrogance, greed, obsession, and delusion. Now, for the first time in a full book length work, Sales details the Bling Ring crimes up close and in depth, and reveals the key players' stories in a shocking look at the seedy world of the real young Hollywood.

This story fascinated me when it was all over the news several years ago.  I read all the gossip sites.  I even watched The Lifetime movie.  The upcoming film from Sofia Coppola has been on my radar for a while, in no small part because I want to see how Emma Watson pulls of a California girl accent.  I’ve read articles by Nancy Jo Sales in Vanity Fair magazines, and I’ve always enjoyed her writing.  So, even though I knew the basics of the crimes, I was interested in a more in-depth look, and I also realized I didn’t know the outcomes of any judicial proceedings.

If you know nothing about the Bling Ring case, I think you’ll find this book fascinating.  Sales got several of the Bling Ring members to consent to interviews, even before their convictions.  Even though only one of them seemed fully candid, it was still interesting to hear from the others.  They are incredibly self-absorbed and fame-obsessed, largely without remorse for their crimes, and they are the type of people I prefer to view from a distance.  We hear detailed recounts of the planning of the burglaries and the burglaries themselves.  The “planning” consisted largely of, “Hey, what are you doing tonight?  Nothing?  Great.  Let’s go to break into Paris Hilton’s house.  She tweeted that she’s out of town.”  Want to know how they broke into Paris’s house?  She left her key under her doormat.  Seriously, folks.

I’ll admit that I was not exactly sympathetic to hear that the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan had their homes burglarized.  If anyone “deserved” it, surely it was these two?  But when I read testimony from victim Orlando Bloom’s grand jury deposition, I could almost feel his pain and sense of violation.  Maybe (maybe) Lohan and Hilton were deserving of a little sympathy, too.

Sales writes objectively of these crimes, even when one of the ring members seems to attribute his participation to drug use and struggles with his sexuality.  (Not surprisingly, just about all of them were admitted or alleged drug users or dealers.)  He comes off the best, mainly because he is the only one who seems to have any genuine regret.

One cop told Sales, “They were a very successful crime ring.  They were just really bad at not getting caught.”  I’ll say!  They bragged about their crimes, flaunted their loot, and seemed to believe that once they were through the doors of someone’s house, they were entitled to anything they could haul out.  What could possibly inspire this attitude?  Sales looks to history, reality TV, and our fascination with fame for answers.  I think the truth is simpler: spoiled teens, lots of drugs, and bad parenting.

BTW – The E! TV show had a reality show called Pretty Wild a couple of years ago.  It starred two of the Bling Ring members and one of the girl’s awful mother.  The first clip features Alexis Neiers attempting to leave a voice mail for Nancy Jo Sales.  The second video is an interview between Neires and Sales.  The third is an appearance on Chelsea Handler’s show.  Incidentally, I learned from the show that Handler produced Pretty Wild (which she never discloses) and Handler allows the three girls to present themselves as sisters, although only two are.  Kind of gross all around.  Finally, Nick Prugo, the member who spoke extensively with Sales, is interviewed on Good Morning America.  For your viewing pleasure:

Note – I was provided with an ARC by the publisher with the request for an honest review.

Review posted at  Goodreads.


11 Responses to “Review: The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales”

  1. The Book Faerie

    Great review! I like you have been fascinated by this ring, but I had no idea there was a book. Also I have to agree with you on Paris Hilton … I guess now I know who leaves the keys of their mansion under a door mat. Can’t wait to see the movie and probably check out the book too 🙂

  2. rivie bleu

    I’m tempted to watch the movie first. I’m intrigued by this book as well, but I just want to see the movie without thinking too much about the differences.

  3. Kayla

    This is the first time I heard that there is going to be a movie and now even a book about the ring. The whole thing just seems so ridiculous to me. I haven’t researched their convictions though now I may. Thanks for the review! I’ll definitely try and check it out sometime!

  4. Girl!Reporter

    I only heard about the film the other day, and can’t say I remember the crimes happening. The book sounds really good. Great review.


  5. Madiha S

    I’m waiting to watch the movie really, I’m not sure if I’m going to read this or not, probably will if I get my hands on it. Great review! 🙂

  6. Tyler Jolley

    This sounds like a very interesting book and movie. I remember when these crimes were committed. (wasn’t one of them on a reality tv show on E! during this???) The only caveat is that these criminals, who show no remorse, are getting exactly what they wanted – fame.

  7. Kay

    I really want to see this new movie. I remember vaguely about this being in the news a while ago. Now I want to read this book too. Thanks for the awesome review and those clips!

    Kay @ It’s a Book Life

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