Author: Tara Kelly
Classification: YA Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from the library
An entertaining cliché of a novel.
Summary (from Goodreads):
When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . .
In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.
While there is certainly a lot to like about Amplified, the book fails to offer something new, interesting, or valuable to the genre.
Despite the personal quirks that make Jasmine a successful protagonist, her personal situation is one giant cliché. Privileged daughter of a rich but distant, critical, and disapproving father decides to throw her amazing opportunities to the wolves in order to pursue a dream that seems frivolous and impossible. While there is a slight twist in the story involving Jasmine's mother, the overused plot device is not appreciated.
Jasmine's naive character and extreme self-consciousness are outweighed only by her determination to not give in to her father's expectations, essentially equating her with a petulant three year old who refuses to eat her vegetables just because someone told her to.
This affects the rest of the novel greatly, as it is difficult to feel compassion for a protagonist who is stubborn simply for the sake of being stubborn. In other words, rather than feeling she is justified for her actions, the reader is forced to view Jasmine's actions as reactions to what is expected of her by others around her.
The plot of Amplified revolves on Jasmine's ability to assimilate into the life she thought she wanted. There is a great pace to this story, with plenty of tension created between Jasmine and the other characters. On the surface, Amplified is a very successful YA contemporary novel: it is entertaining, contains a clear-cut message, and provides memorable characters.
However, where Amplified fails is in its ability to merge all of these elements together in a way that is not plagued by cliché and predictability. Because the premise for the entire novel is a cliché, the book seems to be doomed from the start.
Despite these rather large pitfalls, the book is carefully written, which prevents it from receiving a far lower rating than it does here.
A note on the setting of the novel: Amplified portrays Santa Cruz in a very balanced, but almost caricatured version of itself.
I grew up just a half hour from Santa Cruz and spent a large portion of my time there. I have ridden the unnamed rollercoaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that frightens Jasmine to death in the beginning of the novel, the Giant Dipper, and let me tell you: that rollercoaster is just not scary. Even for a ten year old.
Yes, there are a lot of weirdos in Santa Cruz. A lot of eccentric, tattooed musician-types, surfer hippie dudes, and everything in between. But not everyone there is like that, which is what Amplified seems to portray in descriptions of the locals.
For those looking for a very entertaining and quick surface-read, Amplified is a great choice. But for readers who need less cliché and more meaning, their time will be better spent with another book.
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