Rock On Denise Vega Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rock On Denise Vega Book ReviewRock On by Denise Vega
on March 5, 2012
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Dating & Sex, Friendship
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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Ori Taylor is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Band To Be Named Later, a garage band he started with his friends. After years of being known only as the kid brother of sports star Del, Ori is looking forward to stepping out of his older brother's shadow, learning to perform in public, and rocking the Battle of the Bands contest. Oh, and maybe finally working up the nerve to talk to a girl in person instead of just over e-mail. But when Del suddenly returns from college, he expects Ori to step back into his role of little brother, just when Ori is starting to come into his own.

With his confidence wavering, will Ori be able to overcome his stage fright and lead the band to rock glory? Will the Band To Be Named Later ever get a real name? Will their best performances remain in the garage?

Denise Vega's deft exploration of brothers, bands, friends, and crushes promises to have readers tuning in page after page, because among all the ups and downs of being a teen, one thing's for sure: We all just want to rock on.

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? Or 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 by Denise Vega is indeed a rocking book. 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.

Other reviews of Rock On by Denise Vega:

Book Sp(l)ot Reviews
Killin’ Time Reading

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I think I’d like this book overall from what you’ve told us. I do like books about bands and brothers and rock. 🙂 Great review, April!

    • Thank you, Jess!
      Rock On is a pretty good read, and yeah I think that the bands and brothers and rock music are pretty cool themes. Certainly worth reading about 🙂

  2. Yeah, I tried to read this one for an arc tour but I just could not get into it. A couple of years ago I probably would’ve devoured it, though. I agree with the website thing. They had nothing to add to the story

  3. This is glaring at me from my bookshelf. I love books with music, too. Like… a lot. BUT, I do agree that the website thing would interrupt the flow. I feel like lyrics, notes, websites, etc. are almost “trending” in YA and sometimes it just doesn’t work for me. It’s a cool idea, but sometimes I just don’t care to read the extras.

  4. Great honest review. I love books about struggling rock bands but this one does sound geared toward a younger audience than me.

  5. Can I just say how awesome it is that you were in Chior. I was a total chorus geek. :o) I wanted to be in the band too, but the two conflicted too much.

    I think I’ll pass on this one. I’m not sure I would enjoy no sexy times. Although, I’m reading Fifty Shades of Grey at the moment, so I probably could use a little break from the sexy times when I’m done. lol.

  6. I love books set in Colorado, I love books with music and I love the relationship between brothers. That just makes me want to read this – but I do definitely understand being put off by the whole website thing. I don’t know why that’s the popular thing to do lately; but it bugs the heck out of me!

  7. What, what? This book takes place in my state of Colorado?! Well now I have to read this… I have it sitting on my shelf… just no idea when I’ll get to it. LOL! What a bummer that there’s not much sexy times. BTW I’m going to start using sexy times in my reviews now, I like it :D.

  8. Bwhwhahhaaa! I thought the same exact thing… but I’m also reading the third book in the Fifty Shades trilogy. LOL!

  9. I almost always pick up books that have bands or music at their core so this one does appeal. However, I can see how the website thing, which was probably supposed to be cute and different, could really be distracting.

  10. “guitar god skills” -really liked that line.
    I sort of understand your view on the blog posts, but I kind of liked them. It was something fresh, something I haven’t seen recently. I posted a review, too, if you’re interested: