This is the story of Janis Mary Finch, or just Finch, thank you very much. Finch is grateful to her band, Kelp, for helping her escape her dreary existence as Janis Mary, big boned boring high school student. But she is finding out that assuming the role of Finch, young British rock star on the edge, comes with a whole new set of problems that the old Janis Mary couldn’t even being to imagine, starting with the crazy love/hate relationship she has with Kelp’s lead singer, Christie. Through all the touring, recording, and performing, Finch wonders if it’s all worth it if she can’t have Christie, and in the last climatic scene in the novel, you’ll find out if Finch is a hard-core rock and roll goddess or just a soft-hearted teeny-bopper after all. A band-tastic book that’s set in London, so you get a taste of that great English slang and beat.
Enny and Orfe have been tight ever since Orfe purposely projectile-vomited on Enny’s elementary school tormentors. Now, they’re in college and Orfe wants Enny to manage her new band. No problem — except Orfe is hung up on Yuri, this druggie fresh out of re-hab, and while the music’s always right, Enny’s got a feeling that Orfe and Yuri may be all wrong. Can Orfe’s music save Yuri from the depths of drugged-out despair? Or will Yuri break Orfe’s heart along with her music? This is a fairly deep read, despite its short length. Voigt based the story on the legend of Orpheus, so be prepared — there’s substance to these lyrics.
Indie band Bottlecap has finally made it big. Mark, Steve and Gary follow fame to L.A. where they find that going commercial is, unfortunately, the only way to go. Band leader Mark tries to keep both artistic control and his superficial girlfriend, Corinne, from getting out of hand. Steve is hanging out with Sam, their weird mooching neighbor who claims to be some kind of artist but nobody knows just what kind, while Gary, nostalgic in the way only slackers can be, is on a mission to find old Atari equipment and woo his new girl, Whitney. Can three slacker guys from Kitty, Virginia, beat the corporate wolves of California? Probably not, but they’re going to go through a lot of angst trying. If you want to find out how Bottlecap was first formed, read Gomez’s first novel, Our Noise, of which Geniuses is a spin-off.
One of the best band books around, The Commitments is about a group of Irish kids who want to form a band. But this isn’t the Cranberries, people — The Commitments want to sing R&B soul. But can they overcome the musical roadblock of selling soul to Dublin, which isn’t exactly Motown? The best way to get a feel for this short novel is to pair it up with the movie version, which goes by the same title and is just as good as the book. That way, if you’re having a hard time with the Irish dialect in the book, you can always use the movie to break you in. Check out both versions from the library, watch one and read the other, and I think you’ll agree, they both rock.
This one, as they say, is an oldie but goodie. First published in 1982, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nights is the granddaddy of all YA band books. The Electric Outlets are waiting for their first big break, but record execs aren’t exactly pounding down band leader Gary Specter’s door. Gary, Oscar, Susan and Karl are just trying to keep their band together even though they just lost their first and only gig and none of the local music stores will take their independently produced single. Plus, Gary’s got this embarrassing problem — he’s kinda in love with Susan. That’s not the problem. The fact that she’s his first cousin is. This is a straight-talking band book about the hustling and serious work that goes into taking a band to the top.