Friday, April 13, 2012


AmplifiedAmplified by Tara Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 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.


  1. Did I hear you say "vanilla" Lisa?! I actually have this one and haven't got to it yet, so I'm really glad to hear you liked it. As for this: "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?" please, my knees quiver every time I go to a concert, watching some guy crooning away! :)

  2. know, I wasn't really planning on reading this one because I was afraid it would be too simplistic and fluffy for my tastes. I might have to reconsider. If I do decide to read it though, it's nice to have a heads up about the beginning! Thanks for your thoughts, Lisa! :)

  3. I love this book! Harmonic Feedback is even better!

  4. A wah? Is that a real thing? :D

    Awesome review, Lisa! I have only read a small handful of reviews for this book but they have all been full of praise. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it! I completely agree with your point about needing to feel something while reading a contemporary book. I think that's perhaps the reason why so many of them end up falling flat for me. Amplified sounds great though and I will definitely have to check it out. :)

  5. WOAW! 5 stars? this has to be on my reading pile like right now! eeepsounds soooo good. Great review Lisa x


  6. Great review!! I added it to my TBR list. I'm a new follower and just wanted to drop by and say hi :)

    Feel free to check out my blog & follow too!!

    -Riya The Teen Book Guru

  7. Oh yeah, and I'm also having a giveaway if you wanna check it out?? :)

  8. A wah ---->


  9. YES! I have a thing for books with music in them too! :) It's one of the reasons why I loved Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg so much, and one of the reasons why I REALLY want to read this book as well! I actually remember dying for this book a long time ago but I completely forgot -- thanks for reminding me to pick up this book soon by mentioning the awesome characters, witty dialogue, and sweet-hot boys! ;)

    Awesome review, Lisa!

    P.S. I can't imagine not having any dreams at 17 either! I'm only FIFTEEN and I feel like I already have my whole life planned out! LOL x)

  10. Added this to my wishlist because of your enthusiastic review. It looks like something I'd enjoy reading. It's hard to pinpoint what makes a contemporary YA novel work for me but I agree with you, it boils down to connecting with the characters. If the author can make me care for the characters then I know I've found a good one.

  11. Music book! I love those. I really, really do. If, to top it off, the author has done some research and stuff to get the tech part down... Then I must read.

    Okay, I'd probably not feel the same urgency if there wasn't any (good) romance, or if the characters weren't believable... But your review took care of that, some I'm definitely getting this one.

    Thanks for the great review!

    PS: Wah is usually called Wah-wah... and the name lacks originality. It's just an effect that makes the guitar sound as if it was actually saying "wah". Very used in hard rock and heavy metal! I prefer to play without effects, but... Yeah.

  12. "Might it be because musician are always irrevocably hot?" <---THIS!

    Did I ever tell you about the time Gavin Rossdale spit water on my face. Hottest thing that has ever happened to me in my whole life! Sadly, I'm not lying. LOL

    And I agree with you about that feeling of connecting to the characters, of wanting to hang out with them. It's so important. And you hit on exactly why I don't like to give up on books. Sometimes they just don't start off all that exciting, them bam, the magic happens. And sometimes your just stuck with a dud. LOL

  13. No dreams?! That is so sad and depressing. Having goals and pursuing them -- definitely not sad and depressing. Great review, Lisa.

    And Missie, please explain more about this Gavin Rossdale spitting incident!!


  14. Yes Missi we want to know more about the Gavin Rossdale spitting incident!


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