Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Only a teenager, Carmen is the world’s best violinist. She’s a grammy winner and has toured all over the world. Now is the pinnacle of her career the prestigious Guarani competition. Only the only other person who could give her a run for her money is her age, British, and very, very cute.
I loved Carmen and the dark side of her success--her lack of friends, the performance anxiety, and over-bearing mother. I also really liked the relationship between her and Jeremy and the angst of the competition.
But, I never fully understood/believed the importance of the competition to Carmen’s career. The winner gets to play the Guarani violin for 4 years, but Carmen already plays a Stradivarius. She gets money that she doesn’t need and a world tour. Carmen claims she wants to win because of the concert and tour opportunities but… Carmen’s already been on world tour multiple times. I didn’t buy that she needed them that badly. And without believing in the need to win, Carmen’s laser focus and determination and fear don’t make as much sense.
I was also a little disappointed in the action that led to the big dramatic showdown-- I don’t think it was necessary. I think it could have been a stronger title if it was a little more subtle and didn’t go for a big over-the-top ending.
Finally, please, can we stop with the prologues that give away major sections of the climax? Sure, how it was set up was slightly misleading but… but… but… I’m over it. It also lessened the impact of what happened when it happened-- maybe I would have been more into the final conflict if I hadn’t already been told what was going to happen to resolve it?
BUT, despite these issues, I did enjoy it. Like I said, I loved Carmen. I loved the focus on the music and how Carmen wasn’t enjoying playing any more. I loved Martinez’s descriptions of Chicago. They were subtle, but enough that I knew that she really knows the city. Overall, it’s an interesting, slightly darker YA read-alike to one of my all time favorites, The Mozart Season (also about a violin competition.)
Book Provided by... my local library
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