Friday 22 December 2017

SONGS ABOUT US by Chris Russell

Two months on from the explosive finale to book one, Charlie's life is almost back to normal again: rebuilding her relationship with her father, hanging out with best mate Melissa, and worrying about GCSEs. All the while, Gabe's revelations about her mother are never far from her mind. And neither is Gabe. 

It's not long before Charlie is pulled back into the world of Fire&Lights - but the band seem different this time. But then again, so is she... 

 Meanwhile, tensions between Gabe and Olly continue to run high, leading to more turmoil between the band members and press than ever before. But when Gabriel and Charlie stumble upon yet another startling truth that links them together - everything they have stands to implode in front of them. 

Earlier this year I read a fantastic book called SONGS ABOUT A GIRL. I loved it SO MUCH that it consumed my every waking moment until I reached the explosive end. So when this book came out I couldn't wait to read it. Yet, at the same time, I kept finding excuses to put it off because I couldn't bring myself to get started... because I knew it would be over way too soon.

This week, I decided it was time to stop teasing myself and just take the plunge.

A few months have gone by since Charlie's life changed. When she got swept into the orbit of one of the hottest bands in the world, she got the chance to do what she loved best: take photos. She also became friends with the four band members, had a lot of fun, became the target of fan-hate, and even fell into a whole lot more with two of the guys.

Now her life is slowly getting back to normal. She's trying not to lie to her father, or resent him for not being honest about her mum. She's hanging out with her best friend Melissa a lot. She's also preparing for her GCSEs. But when she meets up with Olly again after a surprise performance at their school, she finds herself getting back into their groove.

This time, things are more intense. The friction between the guys is obvious, as each one seems to be plagued by their own demons. As she gets closer to Olly, Gabriel's distant attitude towards her seems to shift, but not his determination to find out how Charlie's mother and his father were really connected. Finding out the truth is what they both want, but the cost might be too much for either one to take...

Wow. He did it again. That ending was... yikes! o.O

I loved Charlie's voice in the first book, so I wasn't surprised when I got swept up in her life again. One of my favourite things about this story is how she tries so hard to be good for her father's sake. How she hates lying to him but keeps finding her way into a web of deceit because she's so passionate about following her ambition to become a photographer. She's such a nice person at heart, but the need to keep so many secrets for so many different reasons makes her doubt her own character. And she just can't escape the ghost of her mother, can she?

At least we all know she's as much of a sweetheart as Melissa. She cracked me up so much! And it was so cool to see them back on track, btw.

Of course I have to mention the band. The boys are so different, yet so similar that they constantly find themselves in these strange situations, and none as serious as what happens here. Yuki is behaving erratically and won't tell anyone why. Aiden is in a relationship but kinda isn't because he feels he can't be honest. Gabriel is keeping his distance because the truth is too hard to risk exposing (his past and his feelings for Charlie). And Olly... man, that guy wears his heart on his sleeve. He's such a nice guy with flaws of his own.

I also loved how the pressures of stardom and the strength of rumours are portrayed in such an honest, brutal and sincere way.

Songs About Us is such a fantastic and fun sequel! It's got all the awesomeness from the first one--it's well-written, the characters keep growing, the music is still exciting, the bonds of friendship are truly tested, the complications of the heart don't stop coming--plus SO MUCH MORE. This book is AWESOME. I just can't believe how easily it (once again) took me right back to my teens. The power of the boy band phenomenon is something one never forgets, and Chris Russell not only taps into its energy in the brilliance of the narrative, but also in the way he captivates his audience.  

I can't wait to see how it all ends for Charlie & Co, because just when I think I have the mystery at the very heart of the story figured out: BOOM! I don't. LOL.

Songs About Us, September 2017, ISBN 9781444929171, Hodder Children's Books

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