Friday, August 26, 2011

Mini-review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Source: Won from a giveaway (woot!)

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....
Wowza. Virtuosity was an intense, fast paced read that I ended up devouring in less than 48 hours.

I loved Carmen. Despite the priveleged life she has (owning a Strad and having a Grammy makes you a little different from the average teen), she's still very relatable. She's just more intense because of her passionate love affair with music. And oh, her passion for violin was so vibrant, so powerful that after reading a few passages, I had to go and pick up my own violin.* And although there were very few moments between Carmen and her tutor, I particularly enjoyed them since they reminded me of my teacher (who wasn't quite as eccentric but still, same type of passion!)

As for the romance between Jeremy and Carmen, I liked it but I was actually more interested in Carmen's relationship with her mother, an opera singer whose dream was cut short. Carmen's relationship with her mother is based almost entirely on music and it shows a lot when someone refers to their mother by their first name rather than saying mom. The dynamic between these two finally shifted when Jeremy showed up and seeing Carmen finally push back against her mother was very thrilling!

Final Verdict: I felt a strong connection to this book based on my own experience as a violinst (the passages where Martinez describes music...sigh.) but non-musical folks can enjoy it just as much! I was hoping that the plot point with Carmen's drug addiction would be a tad more darker, but either way, it was well done. And though the ending felt slightly abrupt and open-ended, I can appreciate what it means for Carmen's story.

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* I'm not amazing, but I can play decently. I should, considering I've been playing since the fourth grade!

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