Published: June 7, 2016 by Entangled Teen
Source: I received an eARC for review from the publisher via Netgalley. This has not in any way, shape, or form affected my review of the book.
Summary from Goodreads:
Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.
She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.
Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung.
But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.
I will say, the first half of the novel is solid af. We're introduced to Kiki, the narrator, who has a really fun voice. She's nerdy, insecure, a TV-lover, and she has more friends on Twitter than in real life. I think she is a character a lot of people of my generation can relate to. She has been accepted into an elite opera music camp--the same one her sister went to and is basically a celebrity at. She wonders if she even deserved to get in, or if her sister pulled some strings for her because she's used to being in the background, not receiving attention for her abilities. When she gets to camp, she meets a whole slew of really talented musicians, and she lets her social anxiety come out to play. Instead of going to hang out with them, she hides in a basement, which, for whatever reason, has a piano in it. That's when she meets Nutty Bar Guy and they have the most soul-awakening jam session.
And let my rant begin:
At that point, all is well. It's a fun story, and I like all the little musical details thrown in. But then one of the teachers issues a ruling, which essentially states that if a camper is caught singing anything other than opera, they will get kicked out of camp. And that's where things start going downhill, because this rule becomes a major obstacle for Kiki, meaning it plays a relatively significant role in the story, and let me tell you--IT IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS RULE I'VE EVER HEARD. I've been to music camps, conventions, workshops, and all that jazz, and no one would ever tell singers they can't sing anything other than one specific genre. The justification in this novel was that it could ruin their voices. Uh, no? Good singers can sing almost anything (maybe not death metal, but you get the point) without hurting their voices. Trained singers know how to apply the same techniques to different genres. All that being said, this rule made no sense to me. It just seemed like a plot device to add angst to Kiki's life. "Oh, I can't sing pop songs in the basement with hot Nutty Bar guy because I don't want to get kicked out, but how my heart just longs to make music with him." (Not a real quote, but that basically sums up a large chunk of Kiki's mental discourse.) It was just a little...stupid, I guess.
Aside from that, the second half of the novel just got overly dramatic. Kiki has become obsessed with Jack (aka Nutty Bar guy) and then something happens [SPOILER] Kiki finds out he has a girlfriend [END SPOILER], which was really predictable to me. And it all just becomes so meh. I don't want to say anything else because I don't want to spoil the whole second half of the novel, but it's cheesy and cliche and all overly dramatic and I found myself rolling my eyes SO many times. And, in some aspects, I began to lose a lot of respect for Kiki because she was whiny and so woe-is-me, as if she was the first person anything bad has ever happened to. She literally compares her situation to someone dying.
With all my anger towards certain parts of this book, like I said, there were some elements I did really enjoy, and I don't want those to be overlooked. I liked that it dealt with body image and social anxiety. I liked the little tweets before each chapter. I loooved the element of friendship and girl empowerment (though even some of those moments felt so Hallmark to me). I liked the nerd-pride and self-discovery. These are all very important. By the end, I was satisfied where the story ended up. Despite the problems I had with this book, I'd recommend it if you are looking for a lighter, fluffier read.