Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Title: Virtuosity
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 18, 2011)
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

From GoodReads: 

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....
When I decided to read Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, I knew almost nothing about it. I had a picture of the cover and a one sentence summary from Simon & Schuster. That's it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out this book is about music. As a former band geek, it always excites me to read about music. Since I no longer play an instrument, reading about characters who are so intensely drawn to and involved in music reminds me how much I loved it when I did play. It brings me back to the music in a comforting way.

So, the one-liner from Simon & Schuster made me think this would be a quick romance from a debut author. This is an extremely biased view (and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it), but I assumed this would be a decent love story with enough plot to get buy on and decent enough writing, but nothing stellar.

Man, do I love it when I'm wrong.

The writing was great. Definitely made me envious while I was reading. :D The story was very interesting and different than I expected. There was a romantic thread throughout the book, but it wasn't a head-over-heels, falling-madly-in-love type of book. Honestly, if I were to pick the strongest theme in the book, I'd say it was self-discovery. Carmen has to figure out how to manage music in her life and if her future career, goals, and lifestyle are what she wants or are what others expect of her.

The romance was nice too. It was a very realistic portrayal, which I think has become unusual in young adult books. There was a steady back-and-forth between Carmen and Jeremy. Also, they weren't meeting one minute, then trying to desperately claw each other's clothes off the next. I like that type of book too sometimes, but this was a nice, healthy change. :D

Overall, a nice change from the paranormal/fantasy/romance-y type books I'd been reading lately. You don't have to be a big contemporary book fan to like Virtuosity, but it might help if you're into music or like romance (again, not the hot and heavy stuff though).

Final thoughts:  Worth a read. Borrow or buy (depending on your preference for contemporary books).

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