April 17, 2014

Latest Read: Exile by Kevin Emerson

Here are the basics ...
Exile by Kevin Emerson
Publication date: Apr. 29, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received via Edelweiss from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a pro—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels is a hot, sweet-singing band boy. Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
I'm a huge fan of music-centric books and for all the ones I've read, Exile is the first one I've seen that's told from the perspective of the band manager.  Catherine Summer Carlson (who prefers to go by Summer) loves music. She may not play an instrument herself but she has a knack for recognizing talent when she hears it and she knows how to get the word out. Which is why she's currently band-less. The band she used to manage was signed to Candy Shell Records and part of the contract was to cut ties with her, which they readily did. So she lost the band and her boyfriend (she was dating the lead singer) in one fell swoop. Not the best way to start off her senior year. But she's ready to bounce back in the only way she knows how - find a new band.

Luckily for Summer, she goes to the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, a school which focuses heavily on the performing arts and manages to find new talent almost immediately in the form of Caleb -- talented singer, songwriter and guitarist. They team up musically (and romantically!) to put together a new band. Before long, they're finding the right people and the band is practicing and writing songs. She's tweeting (each chapter starts with a tweet which I loved), emailing, booking gigs and giving constructive criticism. It was a fun behind-the-scenes view of a serious (as much as you can be in high school) garage band. But that's only one half of the story.

The other half deals with a famous band from more than a decade ago - Allegiance to North. Their lead singer, Eli White, died tragically and when their last album was released posthumously, 3 songs on the track list weren't actually on the album itself. It seems that Eli kept these songs hidden from the world and part of the mystery that played out in this book was seeing how these songs are connected to the main characters.

(Major) reservations
I liked almost all the characters (to a certain degree) but I never felt like I connected to them.  I didn't feel as if they was any development or catharsis for them by the time I reached the last page (it's a super fast read!). In the beginning, Summer and Caleb are both searching for things. Summer is looking for respect from her peers and her parents in regards to being a band manager. Given that she's female  and has a tendency to date musicians, she often gets brushed off as a groupie. It's a blurry, difficult line that I found SO interesting to read about and it got glossed over. That and many other (worthwhile!) things get glossed over in favor of the "mystery" and the "romance" which was disappointing. And that romance. They literally got together after like an hour. In which they hang out at a mall and Summer is suddenly compelled to kiss Caleb. Clearly this is a teenage boy fantasy, which I didn't quite buy.

Do I recommend?
There was so much potential with this book but in all honesty, it just didn't meet my expectations, especially with its abrupt, seemingly unfinished ending. If you're really curious though and want a fast read, I'd recommend borrowing it from the library.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Oh man! This one had the potential to be so good too, so I'm sorry to hear that it didn't quite work out so well for you. The musical element of the book sounds excellent though!

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