Review: Upstaged; Opening Act by S.L. Danielson & Nephylim.

Wannabe singer and band front man Erik Von Nordgren hates snarky brit Asher Berkley with a passion. From the moment he turns up at practice with his twin sister Daisy, who is one of the band the two have hated each other.

Through a series of 'tit for tat' incidents they annoy, frustrate and exasperated each other. The die hard goth with purple eyes and the hard core rocker with dreams of the big time have nothing in common and no need to cross paths. Except to wind each other up.

Until the day that Erik throws Asher in the school pool, when everything begins to change. Erik is so far in closet he's in Narnia and Asher has a dark past and trust issues that stand in the way of any relationship, let alone one with the brash American who hurts him every time they try to get together.

A relationship doomed from the start, or so you'd think.

So a YA angst fest of a hate to love relationship is what I anticipated when I started this book, and to be fair it is what I got - yet somehow it just didn't rock my world, not even a little bit. While the premise held promise the writing just didn't follow through. I've given this a lot of thought, how do I want to review it,I'm not keen on negative reviews, either writing them or reading them, yet I owe to it blog readers to be as honest as I can about my opinion of the book.

Firstly, one major thing this book had in it's favour is the differentiation of the characters, I didn't feel I was reading one character in duplicate - and this isn't just because (of the two MC's) one was a Brit and one was an American. They had their own personalities, their own styles and this did come through, maybe it is a result of two different authors writing the book, I'm not sure but it worked.

As I said I liked the idea of the story-line, though friends to lovers is my bag I also enjoy the spark and kindle of a romance between two sworn enemies. The angst was there, the mutual dislike, I could see the fire that would eventually turn the relationship around just didn't quite work.

"The die hard goth with purple eyes and the hard core rocker with dreams of the big time have nothing in common and no need to cross paths. Except to wind each other up."

It was a story that made me dizzy, it kinda felt like the authors had decided on the storyline and tried to cram as much into 259 pages as possible. All good right? Well no, not when it means the main characters don't just go from hate to love but instead went hate/love/hate/love/hate/love.....I lost track of how many times. Teens are fickle, I know I was one (too long ago to think about but still I was one), but these two made Vicky Pollard look as though she has deep and meaningful relationships.

I don't want this to turn into a bitchy review so I'll just say the relationship is more than on again/off again, it skirts round the same issues without ever resolving them. Erik hurts Ash by refusing to let the relationship become known beyond his band-mates. Fine, I think coming out is (unfortunately) a very hard thing for a lot of teenagers to deal with. But I felt that the authors weren't actually addressing this issue, they weren't tackling Erik's anxieties of letting people know he was gay, it seemed it was purely there to add a convenient conflict. And Ash - ever heard the phrase fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me? Once Erik had broken the same promise several times don't go back for more, not unless you're willing to change your expectations, cos it just ain't going to work.

So Ash, hurt by Erik goes and sleeps with a fellow fan of the band Vince, and by the next day they are boyfriends, devoted to each other. Until (a couple of hours later) Vince tells Ash he loves him and Ash has some kind of break-down. His terrible past is hinted at throughout the story, yet it's never fully resolved exactly what happened. We know some of it but I never could quite work out who James was, what he did and why the words I love you were so difficult for Ash to hear.

To complicate matters even more Erik's best friend Billy is also in love with Erik - something happened once upon a time and he's carried an unrequited love for him ever since. But then Billy takes on comforting Vince after Ash so cruelly dumps him and, wow, yep they manage to fall in love and get their shit together before Ash and Erik. Every two minutes someone was falling in or out of love. I don't want insta-love, insta-angst - I want good, solid reasons for it. I want to feel the change happen, understand why enemies are starting to like each other. Or not. I don't want it there just because it's convenient. And I certainly don't want to get tennis-spectator neck from the changes that happen so damn fast. All this and I've not even touched on the head hopping that happened at times.

In my opinion (don't ya just hate that phrase, but it's true) this story could have done with being put in a drawer for a few months and then attacked with an editors eye and fat red felt-tipped pen. Erik and Ash were potentially great characters, with a great romance and story to tell, I just felt let down by the execution of it all.

This book was given to us in exchange for an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment