Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Encore (Amplified #2) by Tara Kelly

Published: December 5th 2016
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
I lied my way into a band, humiliated them on stage, and got my heart broken by the bassist. Now…we’re on tour together.

Of course my dad, who I haven’t seen since he kicked me out, makes a surprise visit the day before we leave. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go well. I have to quit the band and go to college or he’s cutting me out of his life for good.

This tour is the best opportunity we may ever have – and it’s already a disaster. We’re broke. We can't stop fighting. And being in such close quarters to Sean isn't exactly helping me get over him. Even though we're just friends now, every time our fingers brush or our eyes catch, my heart betrays me. He's the kind of distraction I can't afford to have right now…no matter how much I wish things were different.

This is one road trip that will be hard to forget…
- Goodreads

This is a tough book to review, not only because it could be painful to read, but also because of the depth and darkness that hides behind the usual contemporary fare. On the surface, this book does seem a tad like a cutesy road trip book, and while I was expecting it to be realistic, the way Amplified was, I wasn't prepared for how dark this book would be. I was rattled and shaken by a lot of the stuff that happened, and it was almost like a trainwreck, where you're compelled and can't look away.

I enjoyed Amplified, and liked how realistic it was, the way it didn't sugarcoat the problems or swoop everything up in a nice little bow and end it in a candy gloss happy way. So when I found out there was a sequel, of course I was excited. I admit this book is hard to swallow at many points, it tackles a lot of issues, and it hurts because everything was raw and intense. I do want to be slightly vague when mentioning specific elements, since I don't want to have previous conceptions cloud a reader's feelings towards characters, but identity, mental health, victim blaming and other issues were integral parts of the plot and the character arcs. I will note that I thought Tara Kelly did a great job with relaying the reality of misogyny in the music world and one that I can certainly confirm exists, even through the lens of being an outsider.
The truth is...they're calling you fat because you're not skinny. And that's all we can be—too fat or skinny. They're calling you a bitch because that's what you call a girl who isn't behaving. They're calling you a whore because that's just what most girls are. In their eyes, we will never be right.
The character relationships in this book are quite well-done, from the romantic one between Jasmine and Sean to the friendships that Jasmine has with the other band members and the intertwining different levels of trust they entail. Out of all the relationships, for me personally, the one between Jasmine and Veta was the one that was the most searing. Veta goes through a heavy character arc in this book, and Encore doesn't make the friendship between her and Jasmine easy. The romance in this book is understated, and while Sean is a pivotal character in the book, the central bond of music and the band is front and center.

The plot could be a little rocky at times, but it doesn't lose the hard work and tarnished hope that Jasmine and the rest of C-Side holds for their musical dreams. It takes off the glamour and glitz of the music world and grounds it in the ugly reality that I'm sure many musicians face. It makes this book that much more memorable in the face of all the rock star books that must exist in the new adult genre.

I mentioned above that Tara Kelly tackles misogyny in the music world, that exists in any professional stage. There are some dark moments in this book where Jasmine is harassed online, and it is ugly. I wish that this wasn't a reality but anyone who has ventured online knows the reality of how online anonymous (or not) comments and users can be vicious and relentless.

And, more importantly, I'm not going to watch another girl get burned at the stake over some guy's world. A fucking rumor. How many times have we heard this story? How many decades have we said we're going to do something about it? And yet, here we are...

I would say that the ending of this book is quite open-ended, but it leaves the reader with hope. Dreams, especially ones that are big as this band's, aren't going to magically come true, and though it would be nice to maybe see something happen in the future for them, I like where the book leaves them. For the scrappy crew who makes up this band, I wish them nothing but happiness and success.

Thank you to Entangled Publishing and Netgalley for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★★

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