Published by Balzer + Bray on April 11th 2017
Source:ALAMW, Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
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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.
Random story time! This was going to be part of my April Reviews in a Minute (Part 1), but then I ummm got carried away with the ’90s band GIFs and realized that it needed to be its own post. Because how can you not give ’90s band GIFs their own post? The answer is you cannot. Obviously.
This one gave me a pretty serious case of the sads. I really liked the author’s last book, 99 Days, and was therefore super eager to get my hands on this one. Plus, as a child of the 90s, I was psyched! The characters in this book were a bit older than I was then (yes, yes, someone somewhere is older than me) so I expected lots of 90s shenanigans. I got… not much. There were a few references, mostly musically related, but for the most part, it felt like a contemporary novel set today, just with fewer iPhones.
But beyond that, let’s talk about the story itself. So, as we know from reading the blurb (and since I trust your reading skills, I won’t rehash too much), Dana has been chosen alongside her bestie Olivia to try out for a girl band (think: Spice Girls). Now this to me was a little hard to swallow because out of all the young females the country/world, four are chosen and these two best friends happen to be half of them? Okay then.
Of course, there is a boy band that is already somewhat established (think: NSYNC) who is staying at the same hotel complex. And this dude named Alex is hitting on Dana, but ::gasp:: Olivia had the hots for him once in eighth grade (that is paraphrasing, I don’t remember when it was). So Dana tries to be all “Girl Power!” and you know, leave him alone because her best friend saw him first. But alas….
So she goes and sees him in random shady places, as you do. And things are… tense with the girls. I could look up the other two girls’ names but it’s unimportant. One of them is a typical “mean girl” and the other is just… there. But they aren’t meshing well, they either fight or don’t speak, and so Dana starts pulling away because she is shadily seeing
Justin Timberlake Alex. And he doesn’t want to play games.
So this is kind of how the story goes: Dana trying to decide if she really wants to be a singer/performer, Dana fighting with the other girls, Dana wondering if she’s “good enough”, and then Dana and Alex’s relationship situation. I just didn’t feel it, to be perfectly honest. Also I have no idea what was so special about her that she was picked to begin with, so that led to a certain level of disbelief. Plus, I didn’t like how Dana didn’t seem to care about the career half the time, and then wondered why everyone was pissed at her.
I liked Alex as a character, but the others? I could have lived without all of them. The adults were all irresponsible and really didn’t care about the girls’ welfare, which I am sure is accurate to a degree, but you’d think their families would have intervened a bit. Not Dana’s, because her mom was the worst (again, this seemed quite trope-y, add an absent mom into the mix of unbelievably), but surely Olivia’s?
Dana did grow a bit throughout the course of the book, which was a plus. She ended up starting to realize what it was she wanted, and applied herself to her goal, which was admirable. Until some stuff happened at the end that left me like “wait- what now?” Spoiler is coming so do not read if you haven’t read the book.
I always tell you, you never listen. Hrmph. View Spoiler »When Dana is given a choice to become a solo act, she turns it down because she and Olivia had made a pact not to abandon the other. Even though this would secure Dana’s future, and make her new dream come true. And Olivia has been basically awful to her. Dana is still true to her word. Olivia, of course, is not, and takes the deal, leaving Dana alone, broke, and betrayed. It doesn’t END there, but yeah. « Hide Spoiler
Honestly, I just didn’t feel that invested in any of the characters, which made me kind of apathetic. Dana and I just didn’t click, and I was mad at most of the characters for most of the book. I definitely wanted a more 90s vibe, too. I did enjoy some of the aspects of the romance, and that Dana did have some growth. But I think a lot of people seemed to enjoy this, so I may be the black sheep here!
Were you old enough to remember the 1990s? If so, did you enjoy boy bands/girl bands? I secretly enjoyed The Spice Girls, but I never could get into boy bands at all.