I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a love letter to music and, in some ways, to friendship. The story delves into a surface-level representation of the music industry and Meg’s pop star brother, but the focus is on her passion for songwriting and making a name for herself outside of her brother’s shadow.
Meg is the main character and the narrator, and the character that I never warmed up to. She’s rude and snobbish and straight-up mean to every single character that she interacts with on page, even the characters in flashback scenes. Her brother’s fame has unintentionally made her become an influencer, but we don’t really see any exploration of this other than the annoyance of public attention, so her constant meanness feels out of place. She’s also deceptive and dishonest about her identity to her online best friend because she knows him in real life and he hates her due to her rudeness. There are no redeemable qualities and she made the book incredibly difficult for me to enjoy.
In contrast, Alana is the standout character in this book. She is pure light. I loved the exploration of her confidence issues as a plus size girl and her fear that people only praised her talent out of pity for her appearance. However, as the token diverse character in this book, her presence is accompanied by overwhelming fatphobia from both the main and side characters, and this is never addressed to my memory. It’s only after a character makes her cry that Meg decides to step in and defend her.
Caspar is a character who I should probably feel a lot more strongly about than I do. He is only ever on the page to start arguments when he doesn’t get his way and to bully Alana under the illusion of ‘helping’ her. There’s not a single moment in this book where he showed a glimpse of being a good person so I simply did not feel anything or care for him when his redemption arc arrived. I thought a lot of the things he said and did were unforgivable and he never took accountability for those things, just blaming his actions on the stress of the industry.
I think my biggest issue with this book is the timeline: a majority of the plot takes place over one week, then another week to ‘conclude’ after a two-week jump. So much happens in such a short amount of time that it feels both unbelievable and underdeveloped, especially Meg and Alana’s enemies to besties friendship. I’m also going to blame this rushed timeline on the reason why every other side character feels so one dimensional but I can’t help but feel like they were never supposed to have a more defining impact on the storyline. It also meant that a lot of the potential storyline and character arcs were incredibly simplified in a way that felt almost juvenile to still fit in all of these events in a limited page count.
In summary, the book cover and description were very appealing to me, but the story fell flat from the first page.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5 stars)