Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Amplified

Tara Kelly
Contemporary Young Adult
304 Pages
Henry Holt & Co/Macmillan
Available October 25th
Received from publisher for review

Jasmine's on her own. When she told her wealthy cardiologist father she didn't want to follow up on her acceptance to Stanford but instead wished to take some time off to pursue her love of music, he asked her to leave.

Now she's in a new place with very little money, no job, no place to stay and a car that's just decided to die on her. Thankfully, it died in front of an auto repair shop where the good-looking but in-need-of-attitude-adjustment young mechanic informs her of the cost to fix it.

Temporarily ignoring the problem of her car, Jasmine shows up to a band audition that comes with the benefit of a room for rent should she be chosen. She's hoping the other members will consider her despite her lack of experience as well as the fact that she's a woman and the ad said men preferred. As it turns out, getting into the band is the easiest part, while the pursuit of her dream and a fledgling romance with the irritating mechanic who just happens to also be the bassist for the band prove to be far more difficult.

Amplified is a cute contemporary read, one that has us living vicariously through Jasmine as she starts down the path toward her goal of being self-sufficient and in her very own band only to find the road not as smoothly paved as she might have hoped. Though musical terms and descriptions of various instruments with their corresponding parts and pieces are prevalent, after our initial hesitation at their unfamiliarity they help draw us into the story, Jasmine's love of music creating a language we understand despite our lack of comprehension on certain specifics. Ms. Kelly writes in vivid pictures as opposed to words, the drama of a budding musical career combined with family disapproval as well as a crush on someone emotionally unattainable projecting from the pages and filtering directly into our minds and hearts as we simply sit back and enjoy.

Jasmine is a young woman of drive and determination, possessing the strength to leave a life full of expectations she has no desire to meet despite the fact that many would call her existence privileged, and chart her own course. She refuses to back down or allow people to walk all over her without ever being abrasive or off-putting, and while we admire that confidence we are also privy to her vulnerabilities and acute fears, making her as tangible and real as if she were standing right beside us. Her stage fright is intense, and there are several scenes where that fear wafts from the paper in waves so thick we practically choke on it, our hearts in our throats as we will ourselves to stay in place and not abandon Jasmine to make ourselves feel more comfortable.

Her romance with Sean is written beautifully, their epically antagonistic relationship ever-so-slowly progressing into one of mutual admiration and respect. There are no doe-eyed glances right off the bat nor any compulsions to be in the other person's presence every moment of the day, instead in their place are traded barbs and thinly veiled insults as they feel one another out as both roommates and bandmates. Their posturing and their generally argumentative natures are highly entertaining, and when the inevitable pain rears its ugly head we feel it to our core as Jasmine does, thinking to ourselves all the the things we wish we could say to Sean in her stead. Through all the ups and downs of her story, Jasmine remains steadfast, reacting to events without overreacting, and allowing for just the right amount of drama to keep us riveted.

Amplified is a quick, highly recommended read for lovers of contemporary young adult fiction, one that will likely keep readers up late just so they can discover for themselves how close Jasmine comes to attaining her dream. The relationship with her father could have been a bit more complex in nature, wrapping up rather anticlimactically after the volatility of it throughout, but overall this is a story that delivers on a variety of levels. The conclusion isn't handed to us with a pretty bow, ties instead hang loose, just begging us to pick them up and loop them together in our own minds as we read into Jasmine and Sean's future what we will.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Sounds great. I love books where the romance develops slowly. The antagonistic to respect to love theme never gets old. Have you read Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John? I highly recommend it. It's another music book.

  2. I really loved 'Harmonic Feedback' so I've been dying to read this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it! It sounds like it won't disappoint, which is awesome. =)

  3. I enjoy books that feature the music scene and have been hoping this one would also deliver a strong story. Seems as if it works on a dew different levels. Will hopefully get aroud to checking it out.

  4. This sounds like a fun read. I love that Jasmine is likable but still strong and I do enjoy books that leave the ending/future up to the reader. THough I'll admit that I like a bit more concrete ending when a romance is involved.

    "...their epically antagonistic relationship ever-so-slowly progressing into one of mutual admiration and respect. There are no doe-eyed glances right off the bat nor any compulsions to be in the other person's presence every moment of the day..."

    I especially enjoyed this comment. The need to be with the other all of the time, be it in a YA or adult romance, is just not healthy and a personal pet peeve of mine when it pops up in books.

    Great review Jenny, thanks!

  5. Aww, this one sounds like such a fun read! I don't know what it is, but I tend to always adore books that have something to do with music. And the fact that the writing for this book is vivid and picturesque makes me want to read it even more!

    Plus, your bow tie metaphor is SO cute! Cliffhangers are killer, but I love endings that are hopeful. :)

    Awesome review, Jenny!

  6. Seems to be a great book, I like reading these kinds of books, thanks for sharing.

  7. Alison - I live for antagonistic relationships, they always appeal to me! I haven't read the Five Flavors of Dumb, I'll have to put that one on my list:)

    Ashley - It was just a fun book, I really liked Jasmine and Sean:)

    Jan - I loved it! I didn't understand all of the terminology but it ceased to matter after I got into the story:)

    Jennifer - It's a pet peeve of mine too. I like my YA girls to be a bit more independent. I don't mind some swooning and/or pining as long as it's in moderation and they acknowledge their ridiculousness:)

    Mimi - It was really fun. I meant to just read about halfway but then couldn't put it down and stayed up half the night to finish:)

  8. Cute review...I loved Tara's first book, so Im sure Ill love this one too....have your read Virtuosity ..(different author).about the violin player, that was awesome...:)

  9. Sounds like a really cute read. It reminds me just a tiny bit of the show "Felicity" where the main character dumps her pre-med major for art. I like heroines who can be strong but also has flaws, it makes them human and more approachable. Though the hate-turn romance is a bit overly done, I do appreciate a couple who can be ok for being apart from one another. YA romances can be a bit smothering at times.

  10. Wow! Amplified sounds really good! I'm curious to see how successful Jasmine is with her musical endeavors! Fantastic review, Jenny! :)

  11. Aww! First off, I freaking LOVE this cover... Second, I totally need this one!!!!!

  12. Tina - I need to read Harmonic Feedback, I love the way she writes. I haven't read Virtuosity but have heard it's fantastic:) So many good books out!

    Rummanah - It was really cute, I loved it:) Jasmine is definitely very tangible, her strengths and weaknesses were really well balanced and believable.

    Lauren - It was! I liked that the ending wasn't super clear cut either, it was kind of fun to imagine our own future for the two of them:)

    Ashley - You do. It rocks:)

  13. I have yet to read anything by Tara Kelly but Amplified sounds like a good one to start with, though I do wish the father daughter relationship made more of an impact, especially if the dynamic was there.

    Rockin' review, Jenny.

  14. I've actually really wanted to read this book. The cover itself seems light with all the yellow and the presentation of her feet made me want to giggle. It sounds like a really good read in and of itself, cover not imposed. I'm excited to get my hands on it. Sometimes I need a book just like that one. One that lets me remember the contemporary, simpler parts of life. Loved this review, Jenny!

  15. Amplified sounds like a YA Romance that I would find healthy for a teenager to read. I think in YA more than others--the slow building, not having to be around each other all the time, and common ground finding romances are the ones that I like!

  16. This one sounds like a fun contemporary read. I love how music is incorporated--I adore music, but sadly, I don't read many books with music as its focus. I need to remedy that. I'll keep my eye out for Amplified on Oct. 25th. My students may like this one too!

  17. Missie - I loved everything except that, I wanted a little more resolution there but it's a minor complaint:)

    Jen - That's part of the reason I loved this one so much, it was a nice break from the paranormal reads. I like reading about normal things sometimes:)

    Felicia - I really liked that there was no instant, undying attraction. They had to work through a general dislike, then a hesitant friendship and then finally more:)

    Christina - I don't read too many with music as a focus either, but this one was really great and now I need to read more like it:)

  18. Oh, fabulous! I've been waiting on this one -- loved Harmonic Feedback. So good to hear Tara Kelly hasn't lost any of her imagery or voice in her sophomore effort. And I do enjoy when the love interests clash and bicker (as opposed to insta-love). It makes the end result so much more satisfying.

  19. The romance sounds fab. I also have been wanting to read this one. It's not often I want to read a YA contemp, but this one speaks to me! Thanks for the fab review!

  20. I love it when the couple starts out antagonistic. Such great conflict and tension!

  21. I haven't read many band novels, but I've been pleasantly surpised with the ones I've tried-- I'll have to put on my list.

  22. Great Review! I had this one picked out too. It sounded like a good story. Glad to read that it is. And I'm getting to like the endings that kind of lead us in a direction, but don't completely tie up the ends of the bow. I do have an imagination! Always adding to my list Jenny!


  23. Her romance with Sean was soo perfect! Just the right amount of frustration and sparks to make a fascinating relationship. I am sooo hoping for another book so I can find out what happens next. =D Awesome review, Jenny!

  24. Cute contemporary can be good, I do always enjoy those :) And I also like that she follows her dreams

  25. Jenny, you completly sold me. Music with a great romance. How can I resist?

  26. I was hoping this one was good so yay. I don't know much about music either which is why I sometimes hesitate trying books where characters play musical instruments. But, I'm glad this one is able to draw you into the story. It seems like fun read and I like the sound of the romance.

    I definitely wouldn't be able to walk away from a privileged life I had one so kudos Jasmine. You know it'll work out for her though unlike real life :) I don't know if you've read Virtuosity, Jenny, but I think you'll like that one too then.

  27. Jenny you need to read Five Flavors of Dumb! I LOVED that book!
    I almost preordered this one today and decided to hold off in case I get a coupon but I'll be buying it either way because I'm going to her signing next month. Plus it just sounds fabulous! But it's a great relief to hear it really is a great book and I can't wait to read it!

  28. It is a brilliant, gorgeous, wonderful book with a dash of romance and a whole lot of music and snappiness. If this book sounds like one you'd read, definitely get it. :)