Not having read a book written for a middle school audience, I bought this one because I was drawn to the premise of the story, but I went into it expecting to encounter lightweight characters and not a lot of depth when it came to actual storytelling.
Aye yi yi. I was totally wrong.
Even at her meanest, Kacey Simon is a character you can't help but love. She's intelligent beyond her years. She's funny and sarcastic. She's also quite a fashionista. (Kudos to Meg Haston for making every character's daily outfits a fun part of the story.) Even though her ego gets the best of her and she says hurtful things, you still want to hang in there with her and hope that she will become a better person (and gets the boy!).
Everything about this story had...style. From Kacey's school to the bakery where her friends hung out to the music Zander introduces her to, the reader gets to escape into this cool, hip world where hard lessons in humility are learned.
There was a lot about this book that I appreciated--the strong writing, wit intertwined with realism, and a cast of characters you can't help but really like (even at their worst). But most of all, I appreciated the reason for Kacey's meanness was touched upon just enough for the reader to feel for her, but wasn't explored so much that you felt like you were being influenced to feel sympathy and excuse her for being cruel.
The story takes place over two weeks. A lot was crammed into those two weeks. As someone who loves music-themed books, I wish there had been more scenes with Kacey, Zander, and the band.
I'm hoping there will be a sequel. I'm dying to know what happens next for these characters. The end of the book did feel like a cliffhanger...
Finally, I read Nickelodeon is turning this book into a new TV show. I read the description of the TV show and was disappointed to learn that there really isn't anything similar between the show and book. I hope those who watch the show will be curious about the book, read it, and enjoy it as much as I did.