Monday, April 16, 2012

Rock On: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls, and a Brother (Not Necessarily in That Order)

Rock On: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls, and a Brother (Not Necessarily in That Order) by Denise Vega, March 5, 2012. 296 pages. Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Source: Publisher for review (requested).
Ori Taylor is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Band To Be Named Later, a garage band he started with his friends. After years of being known only as the kid brother of sports star Del, Ori is looking forward to stepping out of his older brother's shadow, learning to perform in public, and rocking the Battle of the Bands contest. Oh, and maybe finally working up the nerve to talk to a girl in person instead of just over e-mail.  
But when Del suddenly returns from college, he expects Ori to step back into his role of little brother, just when Ori is starting to come into his own.
With his confidence wavering, will Ori be able to overcome his stage fright and lead the band to rock glory? Will the Band To Be Named Later ever get a real name? Will their best performances remain in the garage?
Denise Vega's deft exploration of brothers, bands, friends, and crushes promises to have readers tuning in page after page, because among all the ups and downs of being a teen, one thing's for sure: We all just want to rock on.
First  Sentence:
My dad likes to joke that the first word I ever spoke was guitar, but apparently it was Del.
This is the first YA contemporary book about music that I could just not get enough of. Rock On is one of those books were you have to read it one setting so that you're not left hanging wondering how things will play out.

Rock On is one of those rare contemporary reads were I feel like everything just fell into place; excellent characters, and a story with writing that will just not let you go. Yeah, this book was totally what I wanted and needed to read and Ms Vega just hit all the right notes.

For me, what made Rock On such an excellent read would have to be the character interaction and the how the story was about more than just music or love. I liked that Ms. Vega added in so many different layers to the story, the broken friendship between Ori and Del, his brother, music and all that comes with it (fan girls), and even a little bit of romance full of misunderstandings. I feel that the various aspects of the book were balanced out quite well and the way things played out in the end could not have made me any happier.

What makes Ori such a great leading character is his (almost manic) passion for music, and to be the best that he can be. Another reason I thought he was a strong character was that he never really seemed to give up on what he wanted when it came to his music, plus he just seemed like a nice guy and nice guys are great.
Jane, the love interest. Now she was awesome (and so was her friend Gwyn). What really made me like Jane was that she was not all swoony just because Ori was in a band. It also did not hurt that she was not all boy-crazy and clingy/needy.
Del, while at first I did not care for him since all he seemed to do was take out his frustrations on Ori and the rest of his family for his shortcomings, I did in the end come to see where he was coming from. Even so, you'll have to read the full book just to get the full picture on his character and how things stand between him and Ori.

What really hit me while reading Rock On is that the story while evolving around Ori and his band's quest for greatness and to win the "Battle of the Bands" was that the book was really about Ori and Del's relationship with each other-that went down the drain with Del's unexpected return from college.
I also loved how Ms. Vega dealt with the stained relationship between the brothers and how little by little the story of Del's return and the past between them was revealed, plus I thought that she did a brilliant job of depicting the whole sibling thing.

With the vast majority of contemporary reads-whether it be YA or not- I usually can find a few things that just did not work for me in it, but with Rock On I have not a single complaint to raise because it is just too good.

Final Verdict: Rock On, is one satisfying read from beginning to end. This one pulled me and would not let me go till I had turned the very last page.

Rock On: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls, and a Brother (Not Necessarily in that Order). earns 5 out of 5 pineapples.

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