Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll... Tiger Beat Style!

I've decided to start things out with a guilty pleasure of mine. This isn't the oldest example of YA fiction. In fact, it's a book that I first read while I believe I was in college and long past the days of the YA section of the library. I think I read a review of this book in like Teen People or something and was intrigued, so when I saw it at the library I picked up a copy out of curiosity. This is one of those books that as awesomely bad as it is in parts, I find myself constantly going back to it.

The plot starts off pretty unoriginal. Seventeen year old Molly, and her two friends Tara and Jane, decide to start a band in an effort to get people to notice them. I guess I should mention right off the bat that the story is set in the UK, so there is plenty of slang and dialogue that made me want to scratch my head a little, but once you get past all that you're golden. Anyway, so Molly picks up this guitar that she just happens to have laying around and teaches herself three chords (because that's all you need to create a hit song)! Jane learns bass and Tara picks up the drums. Next thing you know the girls are starting to play gigs at their classmates birthday parties and the local community center.

It's at one of these shows that they meet Dean and his friend T. Dean is full of criticism for the girls and is not shy about letting his thoughts be known to Molly. Molly doesn't seem to care though because in her head she thinks that she's going to lead this whole big chick band revolution thing like her idol Ruby X, who is basically a poor man's Courtney Love. Seriously... Out of all the musical talents to aspire to you pick her? There's obvious tension between Molly and Dean, but Tara and Jane get her to agree to let the guys come over and jam with them sometime. Before you know it, Dean and T have joined the band and The Hormones (yes, that is the name of the band) are formed. Only now instead of playing at high school parties and writing songs about whatever guy they happen to be crushing on that week in Molly's basement, Dean has his sights on something much bigger.

Somehow or another Dean is able to arrange for them to open up for a successful local band Bikini Dust. (These names are hysterical, aren't they?) And it just so happens that of course there are going to be all kinds of important record label people there. In typical, non-realistic, YA fashion, they rock the gig and are approached by this guy Paul, who I'm just realizing now that I don't believe the author even gives us his last name. WTF? As if that's not a big enough red flag there? Anyway of course after only hearing them play once, he wants to manage them and is positive that he can score them a record deal. All right!

The next few chapters is all about them beginning to record a single, releasing such single, beginning to do promo, and gearing up to record a full album. It looks as if our cast of characters is on a fast train to super stardom. As this is all going on Dean and Molly continue to fight about everything from the content of their lyrics (which have a lot to do with things like Hello Kitty and smelly magic markers. I'm being serious here) to what to call their first album. It becomes pretty apparent that there's an awful lot of sexual tension there. Molly, who is clearly being marketed as the like next Hayley Williams (she even dyes her hair "Very Cherry" red) winds up doing an interview for a magazine called The Hot List and completely bombs it by letting the snoopy reporter get waaaayyy too personal and tricks her into admitting that she is still a virgin. Molly, Molly, Molly... Haven't you learned anything from the likes of Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson? You must realize that now you will be presented to the media as the poster girl for virginity. You will become the unofficial voice of abstinence and a role model for young girls worldwide, whether you like it or not. But, it's okay, because Molly is straight edge. She's never even been kissed before, so it's all good.

That is until the gang is at some record company party where for some reason Paul thinks it's a good idea to dress Molly up like a baby prostitute and whore her around to all the hungry record label execs. To make a long story short, she drinks too much champagne, Dean takes one look at her gratuitous cleavage, (asking her ever so charmingly if she got her boobs done) and they wind up making out... That is until Paul sweeps in to do damage control and break it up before they wind up in next week's tabloids. Molly chalks it up to too much alcohol, and after worshipping the porcelain god, decides that maybe she shouldn't drink ever again. (The first of many times she makes this oath throughout the story. What's a good rock n' roll tale without the excesses of alcohol?)

Speaking of excesses, the rest of the band is already beginning to imbibe in their own fair share and they haven't even released their first album yet! Dean is apparently sucking face and doing God knows what with just about any and every girl that throws themselves at him. He is supposedly dating this blonde model named Sandrine, who Jane and Molly immediately christen "Hobiscuit." I love it! Jane is doing her own fair share of whoring. Apparently she hooks up with one of the members of another band, wakes up the next morning and realizes that maybe she better think about getting a prescription for the morning after pill. Rock n' roll excess at it's finest!

Finally, they begin to actually record the damn album. The only problem is that for some reason or another Molly's contract is not fully signed and ready to go. Because she's a minor, her parents had to sign it for her and they've been quite reluctant and dragging their feet because they aren't sure if music is the best choice for her. No worries though! Molly turns 18 and Paul takes her out to dinner to celebrate. After plaguing her with multiple glasses of wine (guess that promise to stay sober didn't work out so well after all, huh Mol?) he brings up the unsigned contract and coerces her into signing it herself since she's now in fact legal. Molly gets that little voice in her head telling her that she shouldn't sign anything without a lawyer present, but decides, "ahh screw it! I'm sure it's perfectly legit!" Little does she know she is probably signing her life away and selling her soul to Satan, but it doesn't matter because she's going to be a rock star! Later on, after dinner she somehow winds up making out with Paul, who stops her stating how wrong this is. (Notice a pattern here? Apparently alcohol turns the normally chaste Molly into a total sex pot.)

Right before the album is released, the band heads back home for the holidays. Things are tense in Molly's house because her Dad is pissed at her for signing the contract without their consent, so she tries to spend as little time with her family as possible. On the last day of their break before starting the album release tour, Molly bumps into Dean in the book store of all places. They are actually civil to each other in the spirit of Christmas and decide to grab a drink together at a nearby pub. (Oh, oh... Molly + alcohol = Well, you see where this is going...) Dean offers to walk her home and somewhere along the way they trip and fall on top of each other and KABAM! All that sexual tension just explodes and they can barely make it back to Molly's house without tearing each other's clothes off. So much for the world's sexiest virgin...

The next morning when Molly wakes up Dean is nowhere to be found. No worries though because the rest of the band is meeting up at the train station that morning anyway to head to London or something. There are some humorous lines about Molly finding it strangely ironic and a little wrong that Dean just deflowered her on her Power puff Girl bed sheets. (Oh, Molly it's moments like those that make me love you.) She and Dean talk on the train about their tryst the night before and decide that they both enjoyed it and want to continue doing it, but that it's best to keep their little romance on the DL for the time being from their band mates.

So, the two of them continue to have this whole secret romance behind every one's back. But in order to not make it completely obvious, Dean treats her like a total dick in front of everyone else, which is really starting to mess with Molly's mind. The album is released and they start touring and things begin to fall apart. The rest of the band isn't happy with all the attention that Molly is getting being the "face of the band." Paul is beginning to get super controlling, and her Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde relationship with Dean is really beginning to drain Molly emotionally. It doesn't take much for the rest of the band members to connect the dots and figure out that Molly and Dean are totally getting pelvic behind the scenes and they are pretty pissed. They feel like it is beginning to affect their performances and are not thrilled with the idea. Paul is ready to have a conniption because "interband relationships never work." Meanwhile, Jane is getting pretty heavy into the party scene. Not only is she drinking heavily, but Molly suspects that she's popping pills as well. Slow down guys... It's way too soon for you to crash and burn already! Just when you think possibly nothing more can happen Tara (who may or may not be a lesbian?) gets drunk and admits she has feelings for Molly (I kid you not. It's one of the biggest WTF moments. She even tries to kiss her.) Jane also overdoses and has to be rushed into the hospital and temporarily replaced on the tour.

With all of this going on, Molly is confused as hell. She thinks that Dean may actually care about her, but half the time she isn't sure if she can trust him or not. So, she does what any good angsty chick with a guitar would do and writes a song about it. Then she contemplates leaving the band and heading home. When she tells Paul of her intentions, Paul threatens her with the contract she's signed and tells her that he basically owns her ass for the next five years of her life unless she can get a damn good lawyer. If she leaves he plans on suing her for breach of contract. Dean seduces comforts her and convinces her to change her mind and stick it through the tour, and she agrees.

The whole situation comes to a head when Molly finds herself sharing an elevator with who else, but her revered idol Ruby X, only Ruby is not at all how Molly imagined her to be. Instead of being a strong symbol of female independence, she seems tired and coked out and dead inside really. Molly can't even bring herself to talk to her and after seeing firsthand the shadow of the person that Ruby X has become, Molly realizes that looking at Ruby is like looking into her own future if she continues the fame game. Without hesitating, she heads right up to Paul's hotel room, prepared to tell him where he can shove his precious contract. Before she can knock though, she overhears voices coming from inside. Dean is there talking to Paul. Turns out Paul arranged for Dean to try to get into Molly's pants just to I guess create drama and maybe some juicy tabloid fodder. Dean agreed to it because A) It boosts his career and B) He's getting laid. Paul tells Dean if/when Molly quits the band, he'll be the face of The Hormones. Dean is conflicted because apparently he is beginning to have second thoughts and actually care for Molly. Molly can't keep quiet any longer and starts pounding at the door. It's quite a terrific scene where she goes off on both Paul and Dean and in typical rock star fashion, wrecks the hotel room in a fit of rage over how both men used her for their own selfish purposes. (AMEN sister!)

She then goes back to her hotel room and calls up The Hot List and gives them an exclusive interview about what an asshat Paul is and announces that she is leaving the band. The next night before the story officially breaks, Molly plays her last show with the band, minus Jane. In a very confusing moment, she kisses Tara before the show and asks her not to "hate her too much." (WTF? Does this mean she's a lesbian now? I know Dean did you wrong and all that, but don't you think switching teams is a bit of a drastic move, Mol?) She then goes on to play the show and announces at the end that this was her last performance. She places down her guitar and walks off stage.

She goes outside ignoring the fact that Paul is having an aneurysm and threatening to sue the pants off of her. Once outside she is confronted by Dean who once again begs for forgiveness and tries to convince her to change her mind. (Probably afraid that without her his fifteen minutes of fame will come to a screeching halt.) I think he even uses the L word. Molly is not hearing it though and walks away to a pay phone where she calls her Dad and asks him to come and take her home.

The book ends with an Epilogue about how Molly is being sued, but her lawyers are trying to work it out. Jane went into rehab and got clean and is now attending art school with Molly. They have a new band, but are so not interested in becoming famous. Meanwhile Dean, T, and Tara are still touring together and the Hobiscuit actually took Molly's place. They are partying it up with LA's finest probably snorting coke with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Sometimes Molly gets strange phone calls in the middle of the night where all she hears is breathing until they hang up, which are presumably Dean drunk dialing her. The End.

As crazy and far fetched as this book was, parts of it were really good! The first half or so kind of drags and it's not until Molly actually starts getting some that she's actually tolerable. The second half though really makes you feel for Molly and all the crap she is going through. By the end I really felt angry with how badly she got screwed over. So, if you are looking for a light, easy to read, beach read I'd recommend this in all it's cliched glory. Anyone else read this gem? What were your thoughts?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Would I Want to Blog About Books I Read When I Was 12?

Reading has always been a big part of my life, especially as a child. I can remember as a first grader impatiently waiting to learn to read. I can also remember the day that I finally received my first reader. I ironically started off in the "low" reading group and as soon as I got my first book I think I read the whole reader cover to cover in one weekend. (I know.. Thrilling stuff!) Point is that from very early on I would read the phone book as long as I was reading something. I wound up repeating first grade for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I guess I was a bit of a late bloomer. Turns out that was a smart decision because I never really had any academic problems after that. By the second time around I was placed in the "high" reading group.

I quickly advanced from inhaling picture books to moving up to chapter books. By the time I was in second grade my teacher was letting me select chapter books from the 3rd-5th grade section of the library. By 8, I was already beginning to read Judy Blume and The Babysitter's Club. As I grew older I went through phases of reading just about every series that you could think of. I went through a Sweet Valley High/Twins phase, a Saddle Club phase, The Sleepover Friends... Basically you named it, I read it. Sometimes I'd read up to four books at a time and be able to still keep all the plot lines straight. By the time I reached middle school I'd moved on to Fear Street and Christopher Pike. In high school I discovered VC Andrews.

A lot of these books I've read over and over and over again. I sometimes still pick up a YA book from my past at the age of 26 when I want light, familiar reading. So, the idea of this blog came about while I was searching to replace some old books of mine that I had lost and wanted to reminisce about old storylines. Through the magic of the interwebs I discovered that there are actually quite a few blogs that discuss some of the most memorable books of my childhood. I found it hysterical looking back at them now that I'm older and wiser. As unbelievable and outdated some of these books are they hold a special place in my heart, and reading other bloggers snarky comments about them was quite entertaining to me. So, I decided to try this on my own and give my take on a few of these. (And I'm warning you, some of these are NOT pretty!) I have a few books to get us started like a Lurlene McDaniel or two, a bunch of Christopher Pike, some VC Andrews... I also just ordered a few of the Making Out books by Katherine Applegate off of Amazon. I'll probably recap the whole series since I haven't seen that anywhere before and those books are just too good not to. I also have a whole closet full of books that I have not looked through in years. In fact, some of them are like from the early 80's that I inherited from my next door neighbor who was a few years older than me, so I am sure that I have some gems in there. So stay tuned!