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The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde - Review

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Where did I get it? I bought it a couple of months ago. I think I'd seen it recommended on Twitter, and I do love books about music, so I took a chance, I'm really glad I did! 

What's it about? Emmy King is the drummer in the hottest new band The Brightsiders. Based in LA, the band is huge and they should all be having the times of their lives. But Emmy is falling apart. Her girlfriend Jessie keeps making her do things she doesn't really want to do, and she's partying really hard. At the beginning of the book, the two are involved in an accident while drunk, meqaning Emmy's management are on her back, and she gets thrown out of the hotel in which she's been living. 

She has to move back in with her parents, who she really dislikes. They're both a mess of drugs and alcohol, and they have no money, and they're pretty abusive. . Emmy desperately wants to buy her own house, but she's not yet eighteen. She has tried to help her parents out with money, but they sell stories about her to the tabloids and tell her she's useless. Eventually, she goes to stay with her friend Chloe instead.

The other two band members are Alfie and Ryan. She's known both of them since they were young teens, and the three are close friends. However, on a trip with all their friends, Emmy and Alfie start some kind of relationship. They're intensely attracted to each other, but starting a relationship might mess up the whole band. 

Emmy has paparazzi after her constantly, waiting for her to mess up. Her fans are totally dedicated to her, though, so, feeling brave one night at a Pride show, she feels able to come out as bisexual. She then writes a song for their fans, which she wants to sing, but she needs to prove herself to their management before she's allowed.

Plus she and Alfie just keep making out!

The book is a fun story about being famous and all the pressures that entails. I loved Emmy and Alfie and Ryan, and all their friends. 

What age range is it for? 15+, due to some mature themes. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, lots. Emmy is bisexual, she has friends of other sexualities (and a really nice coming out from someone other than herself, which I won't spoil). Alfie is genderqueer (I LOVED HIM) and Emmy's BFF Chloe is nonbinary. There's a plethora of queer people included which I really liked. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yeah, Chloe is black I think. Ryan is Korean. Again, there's a diverse range of characters which do reflect LA currently.

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I'm going to see that both Emmy and Alfie have mental health issues. 

Is there any sex stuff? No, not graphically. I liked the way this was done actually. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, mentioned, but I don't think used. There's some alcohol abuse though. 

Is there any talk of death? No. There is some violence though, it is graphic in parts. 

Are there swear words? Yep and I loved them, they were used so well and really fitted in the context especially in the music business.  

What criticisms do I have? Here's the thing. I LOVED the story of the book. If I was fifteen I would be all over this, I love stories about bands and love and friendship and queer teens. The story is excellent, and would get me to read something else by Jen Wilde.

However, some of the writing left me cold. I found the time span really strange - there's a trip that lasts loads of chapters, and then other things go by really quickly? Plus there's some continuity issues which made me flick backwards wondering if I was misunderstanding. The writing alone would have made me give this book just a three, but I liked the story so I'm giving it a little bit of leeway. I hope that makes sense!

Would I recommend the book? Yes totally, even with my reservations. It's fun! It's a really fun book.

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? It was still hanging out at the side of my bed so I picked it up. 

What do I think of the cover? I LOVE it! It's so badass and colourful. It shows Emmy with her dyed hair and fierce purple lipstick.  

What other books is it like? It really reminded me of This Song Is Not For You by Laura Nowlin. 

How many stars? Four out of five.  

Where is the book going now? I'm keeping it!

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