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ROCK ON by Denise Vega


A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls and a Brother (Not Necessarily in that Order)

by Denise Vega

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: March 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-13310-4
Publisher: Little, Brown

Self-conscious Orion "Ori" Taylor is the front man for a promising, but nameless band in this teen drama.

Encouraged by some good local press, The Band to Be Named Later enters itself in a Battle of the Bands and subsequently auditions bass players while Ori works at strengthening his nerves. Confounding this process is the presence of his older brother, Del, who was once Ori's idol—until Del failed to keep up his grades while on a lacrosse scholarship at college. Humiliated to be back at home, Del takes his frustrations out on Ori. When a girl Ori is crushing on seems to throw him over for his brother, tensions run even higher. Vega has imbued her tale with well-developed characters—Ori's first-person voice is sympathetic, especially coming to life when he's singing and playing guitar. For all that, the tone seems unusually sweet, given that the novel's focus is a high-school rock band: How many 16-year-old boys confine themselves using phrases like, "What the heck…" in a peer-only environment? Moreover, as the strife between the brothers draws out, its protraction may lead readers to expect a twist or a more of a revelation than what actually manifests. 

Nevertheless, readers will appreciate Ori's gently self-deprecating humor and the lively Web postings and texts woven throughout that help tell the story. (Fiction. 12-16)