Title: The Sound of Us
Author: Julie Hammerle
Release Date: June 7 (Today!)
Source: Entangled Publishing on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on 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. (Source: Goodreads)
Kiki is spending her summer at opera camp this year, with the hopes that she’ll prove to her parents, and her ex-bestie that she has what it takes to win a scholarship and study music full time in the future. When she gets to camp though its not exactly what she was expecting, the biggest problem being that she’s not really sure opera is her “thing”. Kiki’s also very shy, so with the help of some new friends Kiki will need to bust out of her shell and prove to the world that she has what it takes to be a musician.
The Sound of Us was a cute read, with a lot of things going for it – like an interesting lead who is both a geek girl and on the plus size side of things. I liked that. I didn’t like some other things about it though, the romance mainly, but also the writing wasn’t my favourite, and the story pacing was all over the place. This is a sort of middling, cute-ish teen novel, not a standout but maybe a good read for people who liked that Hilary Duff movie Raise Your Voice.
Kiki is a really interesting character, as a lead she’s got a ton of potential. She’s a geek in a few ways – she loves studying Latin and music and she’s full of pop culture knowledge – especially about her favourite TV shows. I thought she was relatable because of this, she’s the kind of person you actually know in high school, maybe she’s even the person you were in high school. She’s also ranging a little on the plus size side of things bodywise, which I thought was good – especially because it’s a positive thing. Kiki learns across the book to love herself for all of her assets, including her fuller figure. Kiki as a character was the strong point of this book for the most part. There are a few flaws with the way she’s written – Kiki doesn’t come across to me as impulsive but she makes a few really rash decisions that seemed more like necessities to get scenes into the book Hammerle liked that actual Kiki-type reactions to situations. Maybe that was just me though.
Other characters in the book are alright, they aren’t really well rounded in the same way that Kiki is, and I never felt that I really knew them. I didn’t feel the connection between Kiki and a lot of them either. Maybe Kendra and Norman would be the couple standouts but even then they weren’t that strongly written either. There’s a fairly large ensemble in this book, many of them are just bodies with one of two defining traits though so we don’t really know them.
A fairly major character in the book is Jack, Kiki’s love interest. He has some layers, which I think are developed fairly well for the most part but not fully developed to the point that his cheating and lying later in the book really make a ton of sense to me. I also didn’t really feel the connection between Kiki and Jack that would excuse his awful personality and behavior – meaning that their ending on a positive note, a hopeful future for them, seemed really out of place and uncomfortable for me.
Writing wise this book is pretty average, run of the mill teen stuff. It’s not bad! It’s just average. A little pet-peeve-y thing for me though….crisscross applesauce should never ever be used in a book about adults or young adults describing sitting cross legged on the floor. I don’t get why I see thing more and more all the time but it irks me something fierce. Okay that tangent aside, there is one problem in the writing that I think for many readers maybe be ignored fairly easily but kind of bugged me. There was no sense of time passing in this book. The whole things meant to take place across 6 weeks, to me it felt like barely a week. There’s no feeling of the long hours Kiki spends laboring away at this camp, and the bonds built between characters feel very unstable and underdeveloped as a result of this lacking depth of time.
All in all The Sound of Us is a good book, I’d recommend it more on the strength of Kiki as a character and as an important break from traditional characters in similar books, but I would never recommend it for the romance it seems so focused on selling.