It’s hard enough being a slightly nerdy teenage boy without being lumped with a name like Starrphyre. All he wants is one conversation with his dream girl, Candace McAllister. He knows that the stars won’t align for her to suddenly realise he’s the guy she’s been waiting for her whole life, but a proper conversation will do. Starrphyre and his equally nerdy friends decide that one way to get girls interested in them is to start a band.
So that’s what they do – even though they barely play any instruments and have no real idea of what sort of direction they want to go in. They don’t even all like the same music. They’re also missing a guitarist but an employee of the local vinyl shop has been advertising for a band so Starrphyre goes in to talk to him. He comes out with a job – and a reluctant guitarist for the band with the ever changing name.
When his friends sign him up for the lead role in the school musical, Starrphyre realises this could be his time to make Candace really notice him. But after all this time….is the reality of Candace ever going to live up to the fantasy in his head and is she what he really wants?
I haven’t heard of Dave Hackett but apparently he’s a presenter on children’s TV shows. My kids are probably a little young for those types of shows but no doubt they’ll tune into them eventually. I was interested in this book when it turned up because I don’t read a lot of young adult contemporary from a male perspective. It’s always good to read something different and as I’m the mother of boys, reading about teenage boys is something that interests me. I want to know what I’m in for in the next decade!
Saddled with a ridiculous name, Starrphyre lives with his mother who is a radio sex therapist not above using her teenage son as fodder for her show, his Nan, older sister Rue and now Rue’s boyfriend, known as Warren the Tool is moving in as well. Starphyrre’s father lives a few minutes away and he and Starphyrre communicate a lot via text messaging each other trivia questions about bands. Starrphyre’s father likes to test him on 50s, 60s and 70s whereas Starphyrre likes to throw his father a curveball using modern inspiration. Whilst I found Starrphyre quite an interesting and enjoyable character, at times the character of Warren bugged me enough that I had to put the book down and walk away for a bit. I think the author attempts to justify Warren’s presence in the house at the end of the book but to be honest, it kind of falls a bit flat. Starrphyre has ample time to really go to people about the things that Warren does but he just…doesn’t, which really frustrated me. When it all comes out in the end, it feels a bit overblown and unbelieveable. I’m not entirely sure the character of Warren really contributed anything to the book and it would’ve not lacked had he not been in it.
That aside though, there are some pretty interesting supporting characters, such as Sean (pronounced “Scene”), the guitarist and worker at the vinyl records shop who gives Starrphyre a job and regards him and his makeshift band with such disdain. I think Ellie also had real promise in the beginning but her character got caught up in the messy ending which, as I mentioned, didn’t really work for me. There were far too many implausible connections in this book and the web became really tangled. But I really liked Starphyrre’s interactions with Ellie earlier on and I thought the way in which he sort of agnonised over the longtime dream and the here right now was something that most people could really relate to. I think as teenagers, we all have that unattainable fantasy crush, the one that we know is never going to really go anywhere, but it can be hard to let that go and look around and see what else is on offer.
I liked this much more than I thought I would (Warren aside). I read through it in an afternoon and it made me smile a few times and I liked Starrphyre and his kind of clumsy attempts to negotiate the dramas of high school and teenagerdom. At times it’s a bit over the top for my taste (such as the ending and the high school musical scene) but at the same time, I’m almost old enough to be Starrphyre’s mother! I think this would be a really relatable book for teens, both boys and girls. It’s definitely the sort of book I hope my own kids read when they are older. It’s great to see some books depicting life from the male point of view and I think this book is very successful at that.
Book #180 of 2014
The Summer Of Kicks is the 14th book read for my Aussie Author Challenge. It also ticks off the YA genre, a new-t0-me author and a book published this year.