Fifteen young adult authors and one real-life rock star band together for one epic—and interconnected—take on a memorable high school rite of passage.
A daughter of rock ’n’ roll royalty has a secret crush. A lonely ticket taker worries about his sister. An almost-famous songwriter nurses old wounds. A stage manager tires of being behind the scenes. A singer-songwriter struggles to untangle her feelings for her best friend and his girlfriend. In this live-out-loud anthology, the disparate protagonists of sixteen stories are thrown together for one unforgettable event: their high school’s battle of the bands. Told in a harmonic blend of first- and third-person narrative voices, roughly chronological short stories offer a kaleidoscopic view of the same transformative night. Featuring an entry from Justin Courtney Pierre, lead vocalist of Motion City Soundtrack, Battle of the Bands is a celebration of youth, music, and meeting the challenges of life head-on.
As a devoted music fan and someone who was briefly in a band in high school, there’s no way I could pass up requesting Battle of the Bands. It’s been on my radar for quite a while.
This book was so much fun. If there had been a Battle of the Bands when I was in high school, you can bet I would have been there. Fifteen amazing YA authors contributed to this anthology, but the overall feeling is one cohesive story. Some characters make brief appearances or are casually mentioned in other stories. I can’t imagine the level of coordination and organization that went into this. At the beginning of the book is a list of the participating bands and their members – something that was very helpful. Some of the creative and unusual band names and their songs sure put a smile on my face.
Most of the narratives are about finding love, but stories of revenge, self-realization, sibling disputes, finding your people, and a heartwarming coming out are also included. The character diversity is outstanding, and one of my favorite aspects of this anthology. Being high school students, a lot is going on with these teens, and not every disagreement or doubt is left behind once they take the stage. You can feel the vibe of excitement over the event from every musician and the enthusiastic audience and the determination of each band to win. I had my favorites and couldn’t wait to see who took the prize at the end. Not every story is about the musicians. Some feature the students who work behind the scenes at merch tables, on tech/lighting crews, and the stage manager. Even being short stories, it was so easy to get invested in these characters and their lives.
As with all anthologies, readers will enjoy some selections more than others, but this is a pretty quick read. I had a difficult time putting it down after finishing a story, and I’m thrilled someone finally put together a book like this.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.