Book Review

Review: More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs

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Title: More Than Music
Author: Elizabeth Briggs
Publication Info: Elizabeth Briggs Book June 2014
ISBN: 978-1499607994
Genre: New Adult

Book More Than Music

The story is set on the fictional music reality show The Sound and it’s a straight replica of The Voice. Mentor judges. Buzzers. Spinning pieces of stage sets. I will admit that I don’t watch The Voice, but I thought the reality show concept was a neat idea. Two people falling in love in front of millions of viewers? Sign me up. Though in the reality television gauntlet, I’m more of a Real Housewives watcher than The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

More Than Music wasn’t bad, per se. I managed to finish it, though I had to slog through a majority of the book. Instead…it was just boring.

Maddie, our heroine, has given up an internship with the LA Philharmonic to be on this show and help out her friend. She loves comic books and Star Wars and talks about cosplaying at Comic Con. She plays a slew of instruments and is frequently tripping, spilling things, and describing herself as “too geeky.” The cliché of not being good enough for the hero (Jared) is laid on rather thick. I’m talking Tammy Faye Bakker makeup type thick.

There are only so many self-deprecating proclamations I can take before I just get frustrated. STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF. Christ, you made it onto national television on top of getting a prestigious internship with the LA Philharmonic. The only real flaw Maddie had was her lack of confidence and as a reader, I was bludgeoned over the head with it.

And the references…sweet sassy molassey, THE REFERENCES! I stopped counting the pop culture references, the movie quotes, the song lyrics, the T-shirts emblazoned with comic book characters. And of course, this is a book based on a music reality television, and, while naming song titles is expected, I felt like it really worked against the book. In a few years, readers might not know My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay” or The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.”

The antagonists in the book were both catty women with no real motivation for being grade A douchecanoes. Angel, a washed up 80s singer and the band’s first mentor, plays for the cameras and then neglects her mentees once she’s no longer being recorded. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for her mistreatment of nearly everyone around her. The second antagonist is a fellow competitor, a young girl who is likened to Taylor Swift and routinely bullies/pranks Maddie (i.e. taking her glasses right before a performance). Obviously, she wants to win and I’m sure she’s a little sore over Jared refusing her invitation for a booty call earlier, but it lacked any sort of depth. In fact, most of the characters were one-dimensional.

The romance between Maddie and Jared is supposed to remain a secret throughout the show, as the producers want to play up Jared’s playboy personality. Maddie also promised her friend (and Jared’s brother) that she wouldn’t get involved romantically with Jared, as it’s caused a lot of band problems in the past. The whole reason why Maddie is even in the band is because Jared slept with their former bass player and she went off the deep end. There wasn’t any sort of connection between the two. Maddie spends most of the time avoiding Jared because she has a huge crush on him already. I wouldn’t even call them friends by the time they get together and it felt like a romance borne out of lust than anything deeper.

New Adult is tricky. Characters tend to occupy that weird, coming-of-age college space and, just like with high school, there are always moments and facets of our personalities that we’d rather not talk about. EVER. And of course, people mature differently, and perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part that by the time you’ve reached your junior year in college, you’ve got a handle on yourself. You’ve started the process into becoming an adult. Hopefully. Maybe?

This was not the case for these characters. And if it wasn’t for the mention of college and drinking, I would have thought the characters in More Than Music were better suited for a YA (not to say that YA is filled with immature characters!), but that age-wise, they lacked the emotional development I’d expect for characters in their early-to-mid twenties.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Dora says:

    I kind of prefer my books in general to be “evergreen”. Why put in a reference that’s going to be dated in a few years, or not make any sense to someone who isn’t from a particular part of the world or doesn’t watch that show/movie/read that comic/whatever? (Why do you need to say “iPhone”, for example, instead of just “smartphone”, or make up some crazy sounding show for the characters to be into rather than just referencing a real life one?) I think you can get across that a person is a geek and a nerd without name dropping media everywhere, and I say that as a geek and a nerd myself. I understand feeling beaten over the head with it, because it’s definitely distracting because it just feels like the story is going “Hey! Remember this thing? I also like this thing! We cool?”

  2. 2
    DonnaMarie says:

    Funny, I often imagine a The Voice based romance when my brain is in auto mode (meaning I’m driving and singing along to the radio – badly). So disappointing that someone did it and it went this badly. In my I’d write it myself if I had an skills book it’s a mentor/mentee romance. Anyone writing that book?

  3. 3
    Amanda says:

    @Dora: Yep, those are my feels exactly. While I can understand using them to try and establish a connection with the reader, it can be off-putting when there’s so many. Also, “Mr. Brightside” and “I’m Not Okay” aren’t actually current hits, even if people still remember them from a decade ago (Yes, it’s been that long), so it’s tricky to include music when people’s tastes are so varied and the age of the reader might work as a factor against them.

  4. 4
    JL says:

    I always feel like I’m in the minority when it comes to reading about music and pop culture in books. I just hate these kinds of references, and I’m always left thinking the author has some really bad taste in music. The more popular the music, the more likely there are going to be people who dislike it, so why risk alienating some fans? I do love it when authors post or publish a playlist that they used to write the books, though.

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