Monday, 13 February 2012

review: The Disenchantments

by Nina LaCour
Dutton Juvenile, February 16, 2012
contemporary young adult
ARC received from publisher (thank you!)

Colby's after high school graduation plans have always been in place: tour with Bev's girl band through the US, then jet off to Europe for a year. College is nowhere in the picture -- until Bev announces right after the tour's started that she's attending university in the fall. Colby is, in effect, ditched. As he struggles with the new rift in their relationship, The Disenchantments make their way through the Pacific Northwest in a journey for music, love and the answer to the question: what's next?
The cover:

I'm a sucker for sunlight, and this cover gives off an old-school vibe for some reason, which makes it even better. The sunglasses add the right summery feel, too. The only thing is that no boy is going to pick this up. And it's a male protagonist, too. *facepalm*

The book:

Thinking about it, I get the feeling that Colby's perspective, while male, is really written for girls. Though he has his own problems, so much of his interior development involves Bev, Meg and Alexa that I can't imagine any guy picking this up. It makes it less realistic, yes, but at least it doesn't detract at all from my enjoying the story, as a girl.

Colby's head is a thoroughly comfortable place to be. He has his tantrum-y moments, and he also has his insightful moments that make you go, Yes. That's what discovery and creation are about. Meg and Alexa's sisterly bond provides an excellent foil for the rocky relationship between Colby and Bev (if relationships can be foils, hehe), and the individuals themselves also shine with their own character arcs. One can almost forgive Bev's unsavoury behaviour by the end... but not quite. Which is a bad thing, but also a good thing, as LaCour manages to keep our sympathies with Colby.

I didn't know what to expect from this road trip story, but if all road trips novels are like this (Antony John, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, anyone? *goes off into squeeing fits*) then I'm all for them. There weren't a multitude of forgettable side characters, as I feared; in fact, I'd say Jasper was my favourite out of all of them. (Him and his tattoos and his big-world dreams! <3) All of the secondary characters are completely winning with their own back stories.

The themes of music and love are intertwined in fascinating ways, though it's difficult to explain here without giving away too much. The Disenchantments may be the worst girl band ever, but LaCour manages to work in a solid thread of music history through Colby's family. The questions on love Colby and the girls raise are as deep as the sculptures Bev creates and the street art Colby makes. Alexa's notebook of jobs (apparently they rack up to the 400s) is an interesting twist on the careers question.

This, most definitely, is a real feel-good self-discovery novel. Who doesn't love those warm fuzzy feelings at the end of a book?

Rating: 3.8 out of 5