She's with the band, whether she likes it or not.
Victoria Mahler is the sixteen-year-old only daughter of rocker Micky Wayne, whose band, Dusty Moon, took the world by storm when Micky was just a teenager. The band broke up under mysterious circumstances, but, after years spent off the road being a mom, Micky’s solo career is finally starting to take off.
When an offer to tour Japan falls into her mom’s lap, Vic is left to spend the summer under the care of her distant grandmother, and without her built-in best friend. Fortunately, a boy with a secret geek side and a group of feminist game-makers save the season, and Vic starts to see herself as her own person, out from under her mother’s shadow.
But when Micky finally comes home — with a poorly chosen boyfriend in tow — all bets are off. Will Vic be able to maintain her newfound sense of self amidst the building thunder of Micky’s second chance at stardom? And through it all, will Micky still really be her best friend?
A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Looking through the other reviews of this book after finishing it, I have to say that I share a lot of people’s sentiments about this book: it has SUCH an interesting summary, and I went in expecting Victoria to be hanging out with a cute nerd and spending time with some female video game programmers who acted like surrogate moms/big sisters to her while her mother was away touring Japan. I expected lots of personal growth from a girl who spends all her time with her cool rocker mom to a young woman who had her own ambitions but still wanted to be friends with her mom.
Unfortunately, what I got was a whiny protagonist who was OBSESSED with her mother’s stardom and who was such a brat to said mother I had to wonder what the author was thinking when she thought this was how teenagers are friends with their mothers. Vic made me cringe so hard, from her ‘accidentally’ bringing Shaun to a nudist beach (seriously you claim to spend like your entire summer on that island, how could you have not known it was there?) to her mouthing off to her mom and beyond.
Of course there were times when I could sympathize with Victoria but only because the other characters were so terrible, too. She and her friend Lucy were making a text adventure and suddenly, Lucy had to stay at her aunt’s to babysit while the grownups went on a trip to help her grandmother move. She was gone for about a week from what I can tell. In that time, I don’t recall one mention of Lucy trying to call or text her, and in fact Vic took that initiative a lot, asking how she was and whether she was going to be home for Vic’s birthday. Then all of a sudden, Lucy’s home and had COMPLETELY changed their game without Vic’s permission, claiming that ‘you never answered my calls so I did it myself.’ Ex-squeeze me? And based on the fact that Lucy only had ideas that she called ‘homages’ to a video game series she was obsessed with, I’m not really convinced that the game she made was the funny, highly original story people at the She Shoots showing claimed it to be.
And then there’s the matter of Vic’s mother. She flip-flops so badly between characterization as a woman who hadn’t planned on being a mom but was doing her best and an emotionally abusive, immature thirty-something who was famous young and never grew up from that. She CONSTANTLY bugs Vic about what she’s doing with her life when it doesn’t involve her, and Vic is rightfully reluctant to tell her about the game and She Shoots because every time Vic brings up something she likes or tries to voice an opinion, Mickey makes fun of her so badly that it sometimes has her in tears. She can never, not once, take her daughter seriously, and that’s REALLY damaging for a teenager, not something to casually laugh at and brush off. I feel like it’s supposed to be portrayed as something quirky, but it’s just horrible, especially since it’s obvious that it always happens.
Not to mention huge scenes are brushed right through. The trip to the convention that had been mentioned repeatedly throughout the book and that Vic finally got to go on when Shaun got them tickets? Nothing big really happened. She met one of her mom’s friends and got a Ms. Pac-Man dress. The She Shoots display where they presented their game to a bunch of people from the group? We don’t even get to hear any of it, it’s pretty much just “We did the talk and it was awesome.” There’s no such thing as tension or excitement in this thing because nothing actually happens, and that’s really disappointing.
And the romance was sort of gross, too. Vic really had no reason to fall for Shaun at first other than lust, and even then she talks so much about how much he smokes pot and how he stinks (which is supposed to be romantic, I guess?) that I can’t believe anyone would find him anything other than really rank. If it had been about her becoming FRIENDS with him and then finding out they had a lot of shared interests I’d have been more on-board, maybe, but as it was, bleh. No thanks.
In other words, a book that could’ve been great... in theory. Maybe they should’ve written the back cover summary first and then made the author actually write around that. If you were thinking about pick it up, I’d give this one a huge NO.