Yet another cover that called to me in the store shouting “Read me now!” I adore books that involve music, period. Amplified satisfied completely. Author Tara Kelly was able to incorporate a band that had characters that made me laugh out loud and seemed vividly real. The book being set in Santa Cruz was another plus since I live in California. I couldn’t put this book down the moment I started. It gets started immediately with the lead characters Jasmine and Sean meeting for the first time in front of the auto shop Sean works at. There meeting is hilarious and very Darcy and Elizabeth.
Jasmine is a high school graduate wanting to start her musical career now, rather than start college. After her father kicks her out of the house because of her decision she heads to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream. She didn’t expect to be carless, jobless, and homeless the first day. She manages to find a place offering a room and a spot in their band C-side. She has to convince them that she is the lead guitarist that they need and convince her self that she can perform on stage. Except Sean the bassist isn’t going to make it easy since he can see right through Jasmine and her stage fright.
Jasmine is your typical fish out of water character. Just when you think she’s going to sink she manages to pull something out of her hat. You would think someone who is able to play the guitar so well would be flooding with confidence, but not Jasmine. While reading Amplified I could see that she always had the confidence but just needed to find it I guess. She was the cowardly lion I suppose. Tara Kelly was able to describe Jasmine so well that I could see her running along the streets of Santa Cruz, after spending a night in her car, sweating while holding her only assets, her guitars, desperate to get to her job interview. Jasmine seems desperate at the beginning of the book, but in a good way because you can see how bad she wants her dream.
Sean Ramirez the bassist in C-side is pretty awesome. I love that he doesn’t tip toe around Jasmine, he’s pretty judgmental in the beginning. His sister Veeta, the lead singer is more nurturing towards Jasmine and really wants her in the band but Sean just isn’t convinced. He calls it like it is, always. He speaks his mind whether it’s good or bad. His intention in the book just isn’t a love interest for Jasmine but I think more of someone who can push her buttons. Everyone needs someone in their life to tell them that they are doing something wrong, or even convince them that they are doing what they were meant to do. Sean is able to see Jasmine in a different light than she does and because of his hard edge nature he’s just the person to do this for Jasmine.
I respect the fact that author Tara Kelly incorporated a hint of detail to Sean Ramirez’s family. His mom Tina and sister Veeta would occasionally speak in Spanish to each other in Tina’s psychic shop and the conversations where able to show that this family was really close. So even though Sean is a bit closed off you can see that he is also caring. I would also like to add that the writing that involved C-sides rehearsals and stage performances was perfect. I love listening to music but have no clue on how to create it. The scenes are described from a musicians perspective and are done well enough that you sense what this band had to go through in order to achieve this type of perfection, and really what all bands may have to go through in order to achieve the sound they want to project. I can also see the characters. Sometimes you can’t do that while reading a book. You get an idea but not a true clear picture. I see Veeta and her blazing red braids, Jasmine and her tomboy style with the girly blonde hair that counters it, Felix who has blue hair and wears make-up like he belongs in The Cure. I can practically see the band poster.
All I can say is that Tara Kelly wrote one of my favorite books. I already want to read it again…and again. I think Amplified speaks to anyone who feels passionate about music or someone who wants a change from paranormal reads should give this a try. I think if you like movies like Scott Pilgrim or Reality Bites you would like it as well. It’s not for the faint of heart though. It’s a gritty teen book for a mature audience. But come on, you have to expect that with a band living together!