Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Series: No

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Release Date: April 18, 2017

Format: eARC

Source: Edelweiss

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

Having just graduated high school, Dana is faced with a bleak future: a lousy home life in a dead-end town. When she tags along with her best friend Olivia for an audition for a new girl group, no one is more shocked than Dana when she's chosen. Now thrust into a new situation with girls who are hungry for fame, Dana finds the bonds of friendship tested in ways it never was before. 

I was excited for Fireworks because (1) I really enjoyed Cotugno's 99 Days and (2) the 90's setting screamed nostalgia. I was well beyond the girl/boy band craze during their heyday but I still remember the time well. While the 90's vibe wasn't particularly strong, Fireworks was still a (mostly) enjoyable read.

Dana was a likable character for the most part and I empathized with her feelings of inadequacy when she compare herself to the other girls who had years of training and practice behind them. She felt as though she was the weakest link and, well, she was. And yet she seemed almost belligerent when this was pointed out or when the coaches were hard on her. Dana seemed to vascillate between "I'm only here to make some bank and stay close to my BFF" and "I'll show them, I'm going to be the best!" So her motivation seemed murky and could change chapter to chapter. Dana also seemed to have a chip on her shoulder about coming from the wrong side of the tracks and made snap judgments about others, assuming they all had charmed lives and came from perfect homes.

Dana had always been able to count on Olivia but as the competition heated up their friendship felt the strain. Instead of keeping them together, the new adventure seemed to be tearing them apart. Dana turned to boy band member Alex, who lived in the same apartment complex and was coached by the same Svengali-like producer. Even though Alex fell into the TGTBT (Too Good To Be True) category, it was impossible not to fall for his good guy charm. He was sweet and funny and genuinely supportive of Dana.

It was hard to understand why Dana was chosen to be part of the group. With no training, no experience (and apparently no real desire to perform), how did she manage to be plucked from obscurity? More than one character made reference to her having "that certain something" but I never fully understood how she managed to pull it off and what made her so special. A despite the girl band theme, there definitely wasn't any evidence of girl power. These girls turned on one another in the blink of an eye and it was all about climbing to the top.

Fireworks was interesting and entertaining but overall a pretty middle of the road read for me. I appreciated the potential but ultimately felt a disconnect with the main character.

3/5 STARS

Note: This title was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Can you enjoy a book if you don't connect with the main character?


13 comments:

  1. Yea, I can see why you would disconnect from the main character. Still, at least it was entertaining! :) Hope the next one is unputdownable! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Melissa. :) Those middle-of-the-road books are tough. I'd almost rather find something to actively dislike rather just... meh.

      Delete
  2. Ugh I have seen reviews like this for Fireworks and it makes me sad. I want to read it for the same exact reasons as you but now am tempering my expectations. I should get to it soon so we will see. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure hope you have a different experience, Grace. I wanted to love this one so bad.

      Delete
  3. I think the idea of why Dana was chosen is linked to her being pretty. There are mentions in the story of how she was able to get away with things, because of her looks, and she herself questioned if she was good enough or if she was chosen just for her appearance. I agree though about your general assessment, entertaining, but didn't blow me away. It won another half star from me, because I did enjoy Alex and the romance.
    Sam @ WLABB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess that was it... her looks were the draw. But it just felt off to me - the girl with no training and who wasn't even totally on board was the one who was being handed it all? Eh, I just wasn't totally buying it. Alex was a stand-out, for sure. Such a sweetheart! :)

      Delete
  4. I really can't deal with these middle of the road books. They're just so meh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! I'd almost rather have serious issues with a book that I could rant and rave about instead of just meh.

      Delete
  5. I was excited about the 90s setting, but after I read about ⅓ of this I DNF'd it. I also really disliked the fact that Dana had no training or experience and yet got picked for the band - I kept expecting the book to take some creepy turn where the older guy who picked her started hitting on her...

    Jen @ YA Romantics

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right?! It's like, I had a hard time just going with the fact that Dana was being picked for stardom when I'd yet to see anything that said she was truly talented or even truly ambitious. It just didn't add up.

      Delete
  6. Oh man, I would totally want more 90s vibe! Talk about nostalgia!

    Dana doesn't seem like a great character; I don't enjoy emotional flip flops. LOL Great review! ~Aleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Aleen. Yeah, I was super excited about the 90's setting but it was kind of lacking. Overall I was just hoping for more from the book.

      Delete
  7. I agree with ALL these things. I never understood why she was so special, and the odds of them both being chosen were just so ridiculously slim, I couldn't buy it! I did like the romance, that was the only thing that kind of saved it for me, but it was definitely not my fave. Great review!

    ReplyDelete