Review: Rock On by Denise Vega

Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls, and a brother (not necessarily in that order)Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls, and a brother (not necessarily in that order) by Denise Vega

Publication Date: March 5, 2012
Page Count: 304
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

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This was a fun book and a very realistic story (with a very long title). 16 year old Ori and his friends have a band, and they have a dream of making it big. Their first major goal is to come up with a name for the band as they work towards getting ready to compete in the High School Battle of the Bands. Ori is musically gifted and loves to write songs, and what is going on in his life is reflected in his lyrics.

I really enjoyed all of Ori's friends and band mates. They were all unique characters, and even though none of them were well developed, they all played a part in the story. I especially liked Ori's friend Alli. She had a refreshing voice as she subtly steered the band and it's members towards their ultimate goal.

When Ori's older brother, Del, unexpectedly returns home from college, he is so moody and volatile that Ori never knows what to expect from one minute to the next. They tiptoe around each other and Ori starts to resent Del's presence. This part of the story was hard to read - knowing that the 2 brothers used to be so close and were now like strangers. I was glad that Del finally got around to admitting to Ori why he was acting the way he was. While I knew what the problem was all along, I think Ori was too close to the situation and couldn't see what was right in front of him. I really like that Ori got the chance to grow and be his own person without always being in the shadow of his older brother.

The beginning of chapters had excerpts from the band's website and snippets from their message board. You could follow along with their quest for the perfect band name, keep up to date on the countdown to Ori buying his new Les Paul guitar, and meet some of the band's crazy fans. These items really put the teen vibe into the book. This is one YA book that I would actually recommend to teenagers.

I really like that this book is so realistic in depicting the ways that Ori has to balance school, work, and playing his guitar. Both parents are present and active in Ori's life. His older brother is a pain, but Ori really likes his younger sister. I thought it was cute that Ori liked when she brought her friends to rehearsals and shows - they were his biggest cheerleaders and really helped him feel more at ease while onstage.

Rock On is all about Ori finding himself and where he fits in the world. Throughout the story we see Ori deal with his struggles - from being the insecure younger brother of a well liked all-star, to having to overcome his fears of being the front man of a rock band, and learning how to deal with girls. Overall, this was a really good book, especially if you are a fan of music.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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1 comment:

  1. That cover looks really cool and the book sounds like a fun read! Great review. :)


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