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BATTLE OF THE BANDS by Lauren Gibaldi Kirkus Star


edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-5362-1433-8
Publisher: Candlewick

One night, 16 bands, even more stories.

It’s Battle of the Bands night at Raritan River High School in the New Jersey suburbs. Over the course of one hectic evening, emo, punk, solo keyboard, and other acts compete for a shot at recording in a real studio, a big deal for kids with dreams of going pro. Each chapter focuses on a different student as their stories of music, friendship, family, and heartache tightly interlock. A glance at the table of contents might make this seem like a collection of short stories; each titled chapter is penned by a different young adult author, together forming a diverse cast of contributors (and protagonists). However, each story takes place around the same event, in the same place, with the same characters and bands flitting through as the various individuals share their stories. This impressive collection manages to sustain its jubilant energy, and each author’s distinct voice shines through without the whole feeling at all inconsistent. The stories are original enough to keep readers turning pages, while the overall conceit—drama both on and off stage—ties it all together. Without being able to hear the music, the original song lyrics in italics throughout are less interesting, however.

An impressive feat impeccably pulled off.

(contributor list) (Fiction. 12-18)