06. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, 338 pages, read by Courtney, on 02/05/2012

So, I have some mixed feeling about this book. I really, really wanted to like it, especially since I’ve met the author and he’s really nice fellow. But there were a few things that just didn’t work for me, but I’ll get to those in a bit. The basic plot: Piper has been severely deaf since the age of 6. She’s used to being on her own and being studious. Enter the band “Dumb”, a hot mess of a trio that somehow or another managed to win a Battle of the Bands. Piper sees the band play on the school steps and later acts aloof enough to get their attention. The lead singer informs her that she is going to be their manager if she is able to get them a paying gig within the month. So Piper sets out to do just that. Along the way, they pick up a few more band members, making it a total of five, each with their own “flavor”. They’re not very good musicians and they have a tendency to self-destruct, so Piper’s work is cut out for her.
What I liked about the book: Kallie! She starts out pretty boring, but redeems herself by the end. The emphasis on rock history and using it as an outlet rather than a way of making money. An disabled narrator who refuses to let anyone tell her what she can or can’t do (rock on, Piper).
What I had issues with: I’ve actually been in a few bands, none of which have ever had a manager. It’s hard for me to believe that this “band” made it as far as they did before even making the decision that they needed a manager. I mean, their first practice is a complete disaster and the only songs they knew were barely recognizable covers. Not sure how a band like that would win a Battle of the Bands, especially in Seattle. I also have trouble with the whole “making money” aspect. Granted, I can see the appeal for some of the members, but it never sounds like any of them are in it simply to make music. When it is finally realized that money is not necessarily the goal (though they manage to make more money by the end of the book than any of my bands ever made. ever. I swear I’m not bitter.), they begin to bond in that sort-of-sappy-teen-movie way. The ending just felt contrived to me. All happy, with the strings neatly tied up. Finally, I was annoyed by the stereotypes the band members portrayed. You’ve got the silent and antisocial bassist, the egotistical lead singer, the angry girl guitarist, the nerdy drummer and then the addition of the talent-lacking, but drop-dead gorgeous new guitarist. Luckily, the latter character turns out to be one of the better characters in the book.
Ok, I’m going to back off now. It’s not a bad book, by any means and likely one that readers will connect with on one level or another. It just wasn’t the book for me.

Note:  This book is on the 2012-13 Gateway Award Nominee list and is the Pizza & Pages selection for February.

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