A teen filmmaker struggles to complete a music video.
White Toronto teen Spencer O’Toole has hopes and dreams of becoming a movie director. When Spencer gets cherry-picked by a local petty crook–turned–music producer to make a music video for an up-and-coming bluegrass-rap band, Spencer’s supportive father tags along and is mistaken for the brains of the operation. Spencer struggles to shoot a music video with no budget and limited understanding of the band’s music and less respect from the band, who sees him as just an assistant. The band members are interchangeable, devoid of personality or apparent story purpose besides thinking Spencer is out of his depth. Readers may actively forget their names as they’re reading scenes the characters are in. The primary conflict, that the band thinks Spencer’s dad is the director, is splendidly banal. For all that Spencer recognizes that the band members are “middle-class Toronto kids like me, playing American music from the ghettos and the South,” there’s little cultural exploration of the setup. Staunton makes allusions here and there to events in previous novels that Spencer has appeared in, but new readers are given little incentive to check them out. These nods don’t provide any dramatic impetus, character shading, or worldbuilding.
A snooze. (Fiction. 12-16)