Friday, April 5 was the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death and on Wednesday, April 10, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This article from the Seattle Times includes reminiscences about Nirvana and 90s music.
What does Kurt Cobain have to do with Exile by Kevin Emerson? Exile has (partly) to do with a fictional band, Allegiance to North, and their lead singer, who seemed to me like he could be a bit Cobain-inspired. (Note: I'm not sure if that's what the author intended, but reading this book around the anniversary just connected these things in my mind.)
In any case, if you enjoy books that have to do with music and musicians, definitely check out:
by Kevin Emerson
To be published on April 29, 2014
by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: e-ARC from the publisher for review.
Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will. Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming.My take: Catherine -- or Summer, as she prefers to be called -- is a senior in high school and in the dumps about being dumped by an up-and-coming band as their manager and also by the lead singer as his girlfriend. She's part of a special music program at her high school, a school famous for spawning a promising early 2000s band called Allegiance to North.
Then Summer spots Caleb. He's a crazy-talented singer who has just parted ways with his former band, and Summer sees a way to distract herself: she'll hook Caleb up with a new band and rub that in the face of her annoying ex. But soon Caleb and Summer are caught up in both a maybe-romance and a crazy scavenger hunt to find some lost songs from Allegiance to North.
There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about this book. The idea of the PopArts Academy was really fun. I loved the way that the music of both Allegiance to North and Caleb's new band, Dangerheart, was incorporated into the story. Plus, I really loved the mystery that was woven into the plot. At first I didn't see what a fifteen year-old, broken-up band would have to do with the story of Summer and Caleb, but as I began to figure it out, it really worked for me. (I don't want to say more and beware of the blurb if you want to be surprised.)
The only thing I'd say I had reservations about was that at times this really felt more like Caleb's story than Summer's. Caleb has musical confidence issues and family issues and at times it felt like he should be the main character and that Summer seemed more of a secondary character, tweeting about the band and helping Caleb work out all his problems.
The book's ending is also somewhat abrupt. However, Kevin Emerson's website says this is a YA series, and the book is listed as Exile #1 on Goodreads, which might explain that. And ... does this book have an actual playlist? Because it should.