Ori Taylor is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Band To Be Named Later, a garage band he started with his friends. After years of being known only as the kid brother of sports star Del, Ori is looking forward to stepping out of his older brother's shadow, learning to perform in public, and rocking the Battle of the Bands contest. Oh, and maybe finally working up the nerve to talk to a girl in person instead of just over e-mail. But when Del suddenly returns from college, he expects Ori to step back into his role of little brother, just when Ori is starting to come into his own. With his confidence wavering, will Ori be able to overcome his stage fright and lead the band to rock glory? Will the Band To Be Named Later ever get a real name? Will their best performances remain in the garage? Denise Vega's deft exploration of brothers, bands, friends, and crushes promises to have readers tuning in page after page, because among all the ups and downs of being a teen, one thing's for sure: We all just want to rock on. ~From GoodReads
"A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls, and a Brother
(Not Necessarily in That Order)"
Few things things please me more than a story about a young band. When you add in the fact it's written from a guy's point-of-view, has an awesome cast of friends, a sweet, but halting love story, and a troubled family dynamic, well that's practically a siren song for a girl like me. I couldn't resist reading ROCK ON.
Ori Taylor is a musical prodigy, playing by ear since the age of seven. His band, a band with no name and no bassist, is comprised of his best friends and managed by another best friend, Alli. I loved these kids. They were cool, focused, had each other's backs, and had confidence (without being cocky) in their future success. I was relieved that there wasn't a rivalry amongst Ori, Nick, and Troy. Their only worries are deciding on a name, finding a bass player and beating out their Battle of the Bands competition. But when Jane shows up with her bassist cousin, Ori's world is truly about to be rocked.
It seems like Ori has it all, yes? His older brother, Del, thinks so, too. And he's not happy about that. Del was a high school star athlete, and he's lost it all. When he moves back home, he sees Ori moving into his territory, the guy all the girls are interested in. Del, no longer the protective older brother, is determined to make Ori as miserable as possible, taking everything Ori wants. Maybe even the girl. Let me make my feelings for Del clear. I HATED HIM. I know, I know... He's hurt, and lost. Whatever. He was so freaking mean. I haven't been as angry at a character in forever. Sure, I've know characters who've done worse. I think my anger stems from the fact that Ori is just so stinking sweet. If he was my brother, I would have whaled on Del endlessly. (ask my brother, I'm capable.)
Besides the awesome, can't-stop-reading story, I also loved the format of the book. There are posts from the band's blog "Colorado Rocks", complete with comments from fans and haters. There are online articles from a local journalist, chronicling the band's journey. We also have texts and messages between the characters that help move the story along. The most poignant, though, were the "fast-forwards" and "rewinds", complete with icons, that show the slow change in Ori and Del's relationship. How they went from best buds to hostile strangers.
So yeah... as you can probably tell, I loved ROCK ON. It was such a fast read for me. I had to know what would happen with Ori and Del, Ori and Jane, would they win the Battle of the Bands? Vega wrote this book with such sweetness, charm, and the perfect amount of teen angst. ROCK ON is a book I will surely read over and over again.
"And then I was gone, catapulted outside of myself, to that place the music took me so hard and fast I couldn't do anything but go along for the ride. I was teetering on the edge, at the top of the roller coaster, hovering for a second before crashing down, feeling the rush as I flew across the rails." (pg14)
Published March 5th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
You can purchase ROCK ON at:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble
Source: Received for review from publisher.