Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

How Excited Was I To Read Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John?: 10. I love books with a heavy focus on bands and/or music. Remember Take A Bow?

And then I heard about this book. It’s about a band (awesome). In Seattle (sounds great). In high school (yay YA). And the main character is deaf (whoa!!!!).

How Excited Was I When I Finished This Book?: 9. Whoa, I never go that high! This book was great!

Book Jacket: The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?

Piper can’t hear Dumb’s music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.

Review: I love reading books about music. Where a character really loves music. Like Audrey Wait! by Robin Benway (Exciting update on that to come! Our first author feature!!!!)

You could tell this book was written by a true music fan. Music geek. Hardcore music aficionado. What have you. In that respect, it was a lot like reading Robin Benway. What I love about her book (a total 10!) is that Audrey is so totally cool and yet real and relate-able and the interactions are so spot on and often very fun. (review forthcoming!!! with super cool author feature!!!) Antony John cannot speak teen girl in the same way. It’s just not possible. But what he CAN do, is speak emotions. And that part of this book was great.

The book revolves around Piper’s struggle to create a band. If I were to compare it to a movie plot, I’d say Bandslam. That rather indie-ish movie with Vanessa Hudgens? Definitely.

See? Bandslam! Or maybe this is just the universal-high-school-band condition.









I’ve already mentioned how I think that movie’s totally underrated! In tone as well as in basic plot structure, this book felt rather similar. The main character is hurting. In this case, she’s deaf and – more than that – she’s alone in her deafness.

This wasn’t a cheesey book where Piper just had to open her eyes and realize she wasn’t actually alone. Oh, no. There was a little bit of that, sure. But in point of fact, she really was alone at the beginning of the book in a lot of ways. She had to reach out to others, make a big move. And she was awesome at it.

As for the band, it was interesting to see the personalities come together. One guy is terrible, and at a crucial moment, I was glad to see the girls band together and stand up to him. I love it when that happens. There was no male coming in from the sidelines to defend anyone’s honor here. I think I may have fist pumped! Why does it often take male authors to write women who don’t need men?

On the other hand, there was a great romance too. Very sweet. Piper was clueless about a lot of things at the beginning of the book. I was glad to see her become less naive, socially and romantically. It doesn’t take you too long to catch on to where that plot line is going. The most refreshing part is that Antony John didn’t erect any artificial barriers along their path to high-school-true-love. And it was still interesting! Though having such an interesting main character doesn’t hurt :)

The other serious element of this book was Piper’s relationship with her family. It was a quiet source of serious, which I liked. They had stopped listening to each other, even to the extent they could. Piper also has very conflicted feelings towards her baby sister who has received an advantage she will never have, and to a certain degree at her expense. The book handled this bravely, and Piper’s honesty was refreshing. Wait, I said that already.

Overall thoughts: this book did not feel derivative. when was the last time I could really honestly say that?

Sexual Tension: Cute romance. No smoldering fated lovers here. Just a really nice part of the story.

Re-Readability: I’d say pretty high. This was a library book, but I’d check it out again someday!

Sister Factor: Piper’s baby sister is a major part of the story, in an abstract way. You can obviously tell Piper loves her, but she has significance outside of their relationship. So, you know, there’s a sister?

Recommended for: Contemporary YA fans. People like me who like books written by music nuts!

If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. Aaaand our forthcoming review of Audrey Wait!!!!! With an awesome special feature!!!! Can’t wait!!!!!!