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Review: Battle of the Bands



Title: Battle of the Bands

Edited by: Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith

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"Sixteen stories. Sixteen dreams. One epic night."


What's it about?

This book isn't like most. It's not written by one author with one over arching story evident and over shadowing through each chapter from beginning to end. This isn't the person of one person, but one event.


This book isn't like most. It's not written by one author with one over arching story evident and over shadowing through each chapter from beginning to end. This isn't the person of one person, but one event. t trying to figure out what they want for themselves. The one thing connecting each story is the Battle of the Bands, the "end point" as you get a glimpse into their worlds and how they make their way into the school auditorium to fight for the title of winner and chance for a recording session.


Favorites:

Favorite Story: Cecelia by Ashley Poston. This was the first story that I cheered during. It's the one that, as soon as I finished, I said, "If I don't like any other chapter in this book, it would have all been worth it for this story!" And the thing is, I don't know that I can even tell you why exactly I felt that way other then I just...did. Cecelia captured my heart. I couldn't help but feel for her.


Least Favorite Story: Adventures in Babysitting by Justin Courtney Pierre. Let me just clarify, this wasn't a bad story, just not my favorite and I think part of it is how much the story centers around drugs which has never been my scene. I get that alcohol and drugs tend to find their way into the world of rock and register for a permeant residence and that if this book ignored cursing and substance use, it wouldn't be very realistic, and I appreciated that most of the stories kept the substances down to a minimum but not so much Adventures in Babysitting which is why I'm naming it my least favorite story of the book.


Favorite Quote: "When we're born, we're so obsessed with putting ourselves in something. We're so obsessed with putting ourselves in boxes. When we're young, we put ourselves in cardboard boxes and imagine that we're on spaceships or in whatever dreamland that makes up happy. When we're adults, we put ourselves in these metaphorical boxes to hide form who we really are. Let yourself out of the box, Q. You can't keep yourself in there for ever."(pg. 162) Reckless Love by Jay Coles


Other Thoughts:

I'm not going to lie, at first the idea that each chapter functions as a short story within the same universe as the others in this book, but about someone else's experience was a little jarring to me at first. Maybe that's because I wanted to know what happened next when the first story (Miss Somewhere by Brittany Cavallaro). I'd also be lying if I said I didn't find my self trying to find little Easter eggs throughout the rest of the book to confirm that what I thought and wanted to happen with those first characters was what happened. Thankfully, just about the time I was ready to jump on social media and complain, I was given the second part to that story through the eyes of a different character, which made phenomenal book ends to this collection and a great completion to the full circle of this experience.


Speaking of Easter eggs, I had so much fun living the night through so many different eyes and picking out the people I knew from other stories, songs that I had already experienced, but this time from a different experience. I love the fluidity and simple meticulousness that the authors practiced to make the reader feel like they are just bouncing around from band to band, group to group almost as gracefully as Lilly (the passionate stage manager) did. It was done in such a way that it almost made you wonder if it really was written by sixteen different writers!


But the thing I appreciated most was the amount of under represented characters were front and center in this book! The BIPOC and LBGTQ+ communities are in the spot light and shining bright in this battle and I LOVED it! It was done with such ease and the normalcy that should always be present. There was no over emphasis on race, culture or sexuality where it wasn't needed. There's no "Hey, look! I'm representing!" moments where you feel like the writer just chose those characteristics to claim to be inclusive and pat themselves on the back. It was flawlessly done and beautifully presented.


As you may have guessed, I have more praise then complaints, but there are some there. There was some language that didn't need to be there and even more substances. I understand that we're talking about kids, but it makes me wonder if the content doesn't exceed the reading level. The other complaint maybe my biggest. WHY IS AN AUDIO CD FEATURING THESE SONGS AND FICTIONAL BANDS INCLUDED WITH THE BOOK? I mean, who wouldn't want to rock a song called "Heart Shitter"?


Over all it was a fun read with a great (and, I'd imagine) premise that was done shockingly well. I'd recommend it.



What do I rate this book?