Book Review: Amplified by Tara Kelly

How Excited Was I To Read Amplified by Tara Kelly? I give up with numbers today. Very. I have a well-documented love of books with bands. And look at that cover! Kick-ass band! Yay!

How Excited Was I When I Finished This Book?: Oooh… toughie. I did not love this one as much as some that I have read recently. Mostly because I had NO IDEA what the main character was talking about during a lot of key parts of the books. I don’t speak Industrial Rock guitar? But whatever she was saying, it sounded awesome. So it was still a fun read.

Book Jacket: When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she’s the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn’t think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . .

In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.

Review: I’ll be honest. I didn’t quite get this book. But I still enjoyed reading it. I’ll try to explain:

First, the music. There were a lot of very technical guitar references. I loved how Tara Kelly described Jasmine feeling the music and channeling her creativity. I had no idea what that would sound/look like in real life. I need to educate myself on Industrial Rock apparently. (Also, not sure I’d like it???) Anyways, that made parts of the story hard to follow because her technique and her music are very important to Jasmine. They are what’s MOST important. Hard to follow. Awesome to see how much she cared.

The other problem I had in connecting the book was with Jasmine. There’s a fabulous secondary character Veta. Veta is a very cool chick. And she reaches out to her over and over again. Jasmine stinks at friendship. But in theory she has a friend? We get some explanation of why she has a rough relationship with her dad, but why is she bad at friendship? And when I say bad at friendship I mean completely incapable of reading other people and completely lacking in basic social skills. I wanted to shake her.

There was a fair amount of drama here. Jasmine has been kicked out! She’s had to deal with being named “Jasmine Kiss” for her entire life. (Okay, that might be enough of an explanation). But a lot of the time she was a grouch. And not in a loveable Oscar-way.

That being said, I did like this book! It just didn’t live up to my (admittedly high) expectations. It gave me a window into a world with which I was completely unfamiliar. I loved the plot points. I loved the supporting cast – Veta! Veta and Sean’s mom! Zoe! And I loved Tara’s passion, if not her attitude.

On second thought, maybe the attitude is necessary for truly awesome industrial rock? Googling to find out… and that is why this book wasn’t quite a home-run for me.

Sexual Tension Factor: This was one of my favorite parts! SPOILER ALERT! AVERT YOUR EYES! The romance remains unresolved! I thought this was all refreshing and realistic and such until I pulled the book up on goodreads just now and saw it labeled “Amplified Book 1.” So I take all that back… I don’t know how to reevaluate. It does feel real. Maybe too real. Sean is okay. I guess. If you like that sort of thing?

Re-Readability: I’ll get back to you once I figure out what industrial rock is and see it live.

Recommended for: People like me. Those who love books about music and bands. And those who like their YA a little on the grittier side. But not sappy gritty. Sandy gritty. (I just made that up, did it make sense?!)

If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: All reviewed on this site, so follow the links! Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, for a friendlier band novel. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John for a book about a band told from the perspective of their deaf manager. Audrey Wait! by Robin Benway for my favorite music novel. Seraphina, for a totally different type of book – think dragons and fantasy – in which a passion for music also plays a very important role!