ARC Review: Turn It Up! by Jen Calonita

Posted December 22, 2017 by Madalyn || 0 Comments

ARC Review: Turn It Up! by Jen CalonitaTurn It Up! by Jen Calonita
Published by Scholastic Press on January 2nd 2018
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

The Nightingales are in a serious funk. Bradley Academy's all-girl a cappella group used to be the pride and joy of the sunshine state, but the Nightingales have fallen out of harmony. Best friends and co-captains Lidia Sato and Sydney Marino aren't speaking. A boy has come between them -- none other than Griffin Mancini, the obnoxious lead singer of Bradley's smug all-boy a capella group, the Kingfishers. The Nightingales have no chance at winning the big state final if their captains are at each other's throats. Their only hope is new girl Julianna Ramirez. She's super shy, but she has some serious pipes. The three girls -- and the whole group -- will have to come together if they want to beat the Kingfishers and their rivals from Julianna's old school. Told from alternating points of view, this novel explores the ups and downs of friendship, romance, competition, and finding the perfect song!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

As someone who loves books involving music and a capella in particular, I was so looking forward to Turn It Up! It sounded like such a fun premise, and as soon as I read the synopsis, it jumped to a spot on my list of most-anticipated 2018 releases. Unfortunately, this book fell flat (pun definitely intended) of all my expectations.

First off, I feel that this book fits squarely into the middle grade age range, as opposed to Young Adult (which is what it is being marketed as). The voices of the characters read incredibly young… which makes sense, seeing as they’re in eighth grade, which I think is middle grade. I don’t take issue with middle grade as a whole, but Turn It Up! felt so uninspired. We follow three different perspectives, but none of these characters are fully developed. They all felt incredibly three-dimensional, like caricatures of 14-year-old girls rather than fully fleshed-out characters.

Not only were the characters uninteresting, but the plot also didn’t do anything for me. The a capella elements were fun, but a little elementary. There was lots of (in my mind, pointless) drama among the main characters that seemed only to serve as the impetus for the plot. In my opinion, this felt like lazy writing. I am so, so tired of drama between female friends caused by guys. It’s contrived, overdone, and also pretty heteronormative and allonormative, tbh. Not to mention this focus makes it seem like young women only think about dating, romance, etc., when in reality they are complex, like, you know, humans. Sigh.

Honestly, I don’t have much more to say about this book. Even though it barely hit 200 pages, I had to force myself to read every single word. The characters and plot are both uninspired and uninteresting. Instead of reading this book, pick up some of the great diverse middle grade that’s come out over the past couple years.

Have you read Turn It Up!? If so, did you also struggle with it?

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