is when one of your senses is triggered but it causes an involuntary response by one or more of your other senses. In this case, we hope you’ll be reading words but hearing music! Or something. It’s a serious disease though.
In a roundabout way, this is a welcome to New Zealand Music Month, and we’re kicking it off with novels about music, musicians and playlists! It’s a challenging thing to write about musicians or bands in a way that is engaging for readers, since the author has to somehow describe the feeling, tone, content and emotion of something which is expressed purely through sound. Here we’ve selected ten who we think have done this pretty well.
Fat Kid Rules the World, K.L. Going
Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius, the stuff of which Lower East Side punk rock legends are made. Never mind that Troy’s dad thinks Curt’s a drug addict and Troy’s brother thinks Troy’s the biggest (literally) loser in Manhattan. Soon, Curt has recruited Troy as his new drummer, even though Troy can’t play the drums. Together, Curt and Troy will change the world of punk, and Troy’s own life, forever.
Lemonade Mouth, Mark Peter Hughes
Be warned, this is not the same book as the Disney movie. As is often the case, the character’s in the book are much more complex although the gist remains. This is the story of how five outcasts in Opoquonsett High School’s freshman class found each other, found the music, and went on to change both rock and roll and high school as we know it. Wen, Stella, Charlie, Olivia, and Mo take us back to that fateful detention where a dentist’s jingle, a teacher’s coughing fit, and a beat-up ukulele gave birth to Rhode Island’s most influential band. This is a book that utilizes multiple points of view really, really well. Especially during the concert chapters, where the point of view changes between about 10 different people.
6X: The Uncensored Confessions, Nina Malkin
Four teens suddenly rise to stardom in their band 6X, taking the world by storm and learning the truth first-hand about the real backstabbing world of show biz. The band is made up of 4 members, contradictory to what the book title suggests. There’s Kendall (The Voice), Rich (The Body), Stella (The Boss) and A/B (The Boy) and together they’re on the fast track to pop-rock superstardom. Along the way though, they’ll have to do some serious soul searching, face some hard truths and learn to survive in the glamorous, backstabbing world of pop music.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This high-energy romance follows two high-school seniors through a single, music-fueled night in Manhattan. Nick, the nonqueer bassist in a queercore band, is playing with The Fuck Offs, when he spots his ex-girlfriend, Tris. Once offstage, he propositions a girl he has never met, hoping to make Tris jealous: Would you mind being my girlfriend for five minutes? Norah, also heartbroken (and hoping Nick will drive her home), agrees. What begins as a spontaneous ploy turns into something surprising and real in the course of one night as Nick and Norah roam Manhattan, listen to bands, confront past hurts, and hurtle toward romance. What we loved about this one is the characters’ wild yearning for love, and music, which feels powerful and true.
The Disenchantments, Nina LaCour
Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans – and Colby – to start college in the fall. But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?
Naked, Kevin Brooks
Britain in the 1970s sounds like an incredible place to be. Chaos and punk culture went hand in hand and this book is set right in the middle of it: summer of 1976. It was the summer of so many things. Heat and violence, love and hate, heaven and hell. It was the time I met William Bonney – the boy from Belfast known as Billy the Kid. William’s secrets have been kept for a long time, but now things have changed and the truth is coming out. The story begins with Curtis Ray; hip, cool, rebellious Curtis Ray. Without Curtis, there wouldn’t be a story to tell. It’s the story of a band, of life and death . . . and everything in between.
This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen
Raised by a mother who has had five husbands, eighteen-year-old Remy believes in short-term, no-commitment relationships until she meets Dexter, a rock band musician. Remy goes on a whirlwind ride, avoiding, circling and finally surrendering to Cupid’s arrows. More than the summer romance of this novel, we loved the cast of idiosyncratic characters who watch from the sidelines. There’s the trio of Remy’s faithful girlfriends, all addicted to “Xtra Large Zip” Diet Cokes practical-minded Jess, weepy Lissa, and Chloe, who shares Remy’s dark sense of humor as well as Dexter’s entourage of fellow band members, as incompetent at managing money as they are at keeping their rental house clean. Potential spoiler: it’s far from the fairytale happily-ever-after ending.
Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway
California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous! Now rabid fans are invading her school. People (magazine) is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can’t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi. Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.
Five Flavors of Dumb, Antony John
High school senior Piper, who began to lose her hearing at age six, has mixed feelings about her parents dipping into her college fund to pay for cochlear implants for her hearing-impaired baby sister. But one thing is clear: Piper has to replenish the funds. Opportunity knocks when a disorganized rock band named Dumb invites her to be their manager. However, it soon becomes apparent that the members’ egos are more substantial than their talent. Although Piper’s hearing is a characterizing detail that could have been used solely as a gimmick, her abilities are seen as assets: while lip reading allows her access to public conversation, she is not above using sign language to obscure her intentions. The parallel attention to Piper’s hearing family and the strain her parents’ decision to treat her sister with cochlear implants adds to the greater story and informs the novel’s direction and ending in a satisfying way.
Rock Star Superstar, Blake Nelson
Music is Pete’s life. He’s happiest when he’s playing his Fender Precision bass, whether he’s jamming with his dad at 2 a.m. or covering Top 40 hits. Pete doesn’t care about playing the hottest club or getting the cutest girl. For him, it’s all about the quality of the music. Until he meets the Carlisle brothers. Pete could play circles around Nick and Billy Carlisle-the guys are amateurs. But there’s a power in their sound that’s exciting, and they need a new bass player. Pete joins their band, not quite sure what to expect. Before he knows it, he’s on a wild ride that transforms him from jazz band geek to potential rock god. Is Pete ready for superstardom? More importantly, is it even what he wants?
Hopefully that’s enough to kick of 2013 New Zealand Music Month for y’all! Stay tuned for updates and our favourite homegrown acts.
R n R