Friday, April 13, 2012
Amplified by Tara Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So I guess I might have a thing for books with music in them.
Might it be because I can actually hear it like a soundtrack, just like in a movie and it makes it more vivid? Maybe. Might it be because musician are always irrevocably hot? Yeah, that's probably more like it.
Come on, who wasn't mesmerized at some point in their life by the guy playing the guitar in front of a bonfire during a hot summer night? Only me? Ok, FINE. Moving on.
My expectations for Amplified were middle to low. The past two YA contemporary books I read were pretty disappointing and I was sort of expecting this one to follow the lead. So what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be, I'm so glad I was proven wrong.
The beginning, to be honest, wasn't really promising.
We meet Jasmine being kicked out of the house by her father with her car broken down in front of an auto shop. Her father is one of those quite oppressive types and Jasmine wants to defer her enrollment in Stanford. Because she wants to play the guitar. Of course he doesn't agree, hence the kicking out. She's left with no car, no job, no place to stay, very little money, two guitars and one kick-ass amplifier.
Anyway, at the beginning, she was coming out as a bit of a spoiled brat and I could smell clichés from a mile away.
When she gets the chance to become part of an industrial rock group which incidentally includes also the chance to rent a room in a shared house, she jumps at the occasion even if she has to fake it; they ask for someone with stage experience and she has none.
Between the hysterical/weird/grumpy guys populating the house, the job at a psychic shop, her father not talking to her, rehearsals and her first live performance looming, Jasmine's life becomes hectic to say the least. Will she be able to fake it until she makes it or disaster is just around the corner?
Oh, how I wish all my vanillas were along the lines of this one. I haven't quite understood yet what it is that makes me despise some contemporary YA books and love other ones... I mean, the formula is pretty much always the same, right? Girl with problems/estranged from her parents meets cute boy who is taken/oblivious, enter mean girl, coming of age, bla bla bla...
So what is it? Well-developed characters? Yes. Witty, clever dialogue? Duh. Hot guys and sexual tension? Preferably. A morale, a message? Yes!
But what else?
I guess I need to feel something, that's all. Sentiment. The X factor that makes me long to be in the story, be part of it, be friends with the characters. If it's people I'd like to be friends with, then I'll probably like the book.
Amplified made me feel connected to Jasmine in such a way. Not only it's an extremely fun book - snarky, witty, clever exactly up to right level - but I really felt for Jasmine in her endeavor to chase her dreams and do something she really wanted to do. I kept on thinking, you go girl!
It's really hard out there for young people at the moment, especially in my country. Today I was listening to the radio in the car while taking the kids to school and they were interviewing some kids in a program. This girl, 17 I think, who was asked: "what are your dreams for the future?" replied: "None for the moment".
I almost swerved. How can you not have ANY dreams at 17, for crying out loud? This shocks me and makes me extremely sad. If our kids have no dreams, what kind of hope do we have for the future?
I think we need more books with kids who strive to do something with their lives. But I digress.
The romance in the story was also very much to my taste. It develops slowly and it ends in a very believable and logic way, and kudos to Tara Kelly for managing it that way, I totally bought it.
The only reason why I took away half a star to this incredibly worthy book is Amy. While the other characters were really cool - especially Veta and Bryn - Amy is way too cliché, too mean girl. She might as well have grown some horns, got a pitchfork and the portrait would have been complete.
I also might add that some readers - me - might find the music parts a tad too technical. What the heck is a wah?!
Anyway, for all my friends who like "vanillas", I think you need to check this out because it's a keeper.