Title: Rock On
Author: Denise Vega
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc (March 5, 2012)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
High school sophomore Ori Taylor, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter in a nameless rock band, has always been known as the overlooked younger brother of Del, a high school sports star. But when Del suddenly returns home from college just as Ori is starting to gain some confidence in himself, Del expects everything to return to the way it used to be.
Rock On by Denise Vega is a very natural story. It's one of those "moment in time" stories that I love because of the realism and character study. While I love watching how the characters grow, develop, and change (oh, and make mistakes...lots and lots of mistakes), Rock On is also a fun contemporary read even if you don't like contemplating character development.
The full title of Rock On is Rock On: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls, and a Brother (Not Necessarily in that Order). That pretty much sums it up. It captures the easygoing nature of Ori and accounts for all the major stuff that goes on in the book. Basically, it's one teenage boy's life as he's on the cusp of creating a good band, getting a girlfriend, and working through a rocky patch with his brother.
I enjoyed reading Rock On because of the realism. Yes, there was a plot and it did move forward. If you take the band aspect (which is the most prominent, plot wise), Ori's newly formed band is trying to prepare for a Battle of the Bands. If they win, they'll get more exposure and possibly be put in touch with "the right people." While it's accurate to say not every teenager is talented enough to put together a successful band, it's also not out of the realm of possibility. This isn't some I'll-go-from-nothing-to-something-with-a-big-record-deal-that-will-launch-our-career-and-make-us-millions-of-dollars type of scheme. It's a realistic Battle of the Bands with realistic prizes. This keeps the book grounded and fits in all the other aspects (gigs, girls, & brother) in check.
While I'm a sucker for music, I'm having a hard time deciding whether my favorite storyline was the music aspect or the brother (SHOCK: It wasn't the Girls/romance!). Del and Ori's relationship is fairly typical, but they are definitely having a hard time with each other right now. Both Del and Ori are at different points in their lives and they both have a lot of changes occurring. That's hard to adjust to by yourself, let alone figuring out how everything fits in with other relationships. I really enjoyed reading about their relationship and how it shifted throughout the story. As a person with many siblings, this aspect felt particularly close to my heart.
Overall, Rock On is a cool, fun read for anyone who enjoys any of the things listed in the title (guitars, gigs, girls, and brother). It's definitely a boy friendly read and I'd say it'd probably be good for some reluctant readers too as long as they're interested in those topics.
Final thoughts: Borrow. It's worth the read.