Books with music as their main theme are hard for me to resist. They take me back to a time when I was a teen in choir, marching band and learning to play guitar (mind you I was not good at any of these things). Also, like most people with a pulse, I like music. Rock On by Denise Vega is all about the music.
Orion Taylor is lead singer and guitar in a band yet to be named, a band that is steadily growing in popularity in his Colorado town. Ori is very passionate about the music and you can see it flow through him as his playing is described. However, Ori’s music career could be derailed by his golden boy brother, Del, who is back after dropping out of college after his first semester. What was once an amiable relationship between brothers turns into tense rivalry as Del resents Ori’s newfound attention. Will the band find a name? Will Ori and Del’s relationship implode? Will they totally rock it at the battle of the bands?
I thought Denise Vega did a decent job drawing Ori’s character in Rock On. His development was well-plotted. There was no instant life lesson – rather Ori takes his time to grow through the book and find some confidence through his guitar god skills and also time to grow a set, so to speak. I thought that relationship between Del and Ori seemed realistic. Like, I thought the interactions between the two and the festering of Del’s resentment towards Ori seemed realistic.
However, Rock On is not a perfect book. Probably my biggest criticism lies with the insertion of the band’s website every few chapters. I thought it disrupted the flow of the story and felt very unnecessary. Like we would get to interesting parts of the story, then bam, let’s check out the band’s website and read the inane comments on there. I also could have done without Ori’s lyrics – although they did read like the lyrics of a high schooler, so I think actual kids will like that.
Overall, Rock On is indeed a rocking book, but I think it’s better suited to the younger end of the young adult spectrum. There are barely any swears and no sexytimes at all. It’s quite the clean read and I think younger rockers could totally get into reading about Ori and his tumultuous family relations and passion for the music.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley.