Review: Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

songs about a girlCharlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs…

I’d been wanting to read Songs About a Girl for quite a while (I talked about it in my post on upcoming summer releases), so I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it! While it wasn’t what I initially expected, the plot was still good, just in a different way to what I thought it would’ve been, and it definitely didn’t put me off the book – in fact, I enjoyed it so much that I raced through it; one moment I was on page three hundred, I went back to reading, and the next thing I knew I’d read another hundred pages.

One of the things I love when it comes to books about music and bands which Songs About a Girl did particularly well was the creation of a world filled with paparazzi and glamour. It’s always fun to read about as it’s so far removed from anything regular teenagers experience on a daily (or weekly, in Charlie’s case) basis, and Chris Russell did an excellent job of contrasting the magic of being with the band and Charlie’s rather ordinary life at home. I also thought it was interesting to see how these two halves of the plot ran side by side initially, then began to interweave as her life became increasingly more public.

Another thing I loved was the way the band was developed so fully; they had a backstory to how they got together, with some drama to it, and Olly in particular had strong ties to his past, shown by him approaching Charlie, which normalised them and made them seem more whole and human instead of stars who were completely unrelatable. I thought the band were on the whole very sweet, and I liked that they all had unique traits that made them distinct and individual, and it made them entertaining to read about, especially as the band had a lot of chemistry, so their conversations were usually amusing. Chris Russell also included song lyrics for the band (writing a book sounds hard enough, and song writing is yet another difficult thing to add on top, so I was seriously impressed by this! The author also record two of the songs and put them on the book’s website, which is very cool!).

My main criticism of the book would be that it felt like most of the drama was stored up for the end. There was build-up, such as Charlie lying to her dad, and there were leaks of Charlie’s information which kept getting bigger and bigger, but the main things that occurred were very near to the end of the book – and it finished on a cliffhanger! This is just my own personal preference, but I tend to like closure at the end of the book. However, the book is part of a trilogy, so I will get answers eventually. Also, while I found many of the twists at the end extremely surprising (no spoilers!), the main twist – that Charlie has the song lyrics too – felt more like a surprising coincidence to me than a seriously mind-blowing occurrence.

Overall, Songs About a Girl was a fun book, with entertaining characters and some surprising twists in the plot, which I would recommend in particular to fans of books about bands, or to people who have enjoyed other books about bands and music, such as Remix, Love Song and Kill the Boy Band.

Songs About a Girl was published on the 28th of July 2016 by Hodder Children’s Books. You can find out more on Goodreads here, or purchase a copy on Amazon here.

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