My heart has a sweet spot for musically inclined books. So when I found out that Tara Kelly’s Amplified is about a girl who dreams of becoming a musician, I told myself I need to read it. So my reaction? Good, funny and nice.
Amplified is a subtle and feminine version of Harold Sakuchi’s Beck (Mongolian Chop Squad). I super duper liked that manga. But unlike the manga this book failed to connect to me—musically. I liked Jasmine’s story. I liked how brave she was when she decided to face the path of her dream on her own. I’m particularly impressed that despite the conflict between Jasmine and her father, it wasn’t the usual fragile and hostile relationship that seems to be impossible to fix; that in other books this kind of setup is typically portrayed. It was a surprise that she still calls her father and her father who is also firmed with his decision didn’t completely disowned her daughter. There’s a gap between them for sure but Jasmine, for me, still respects his father. As for other characters, like her bandmates are refreshingly nice too. Bryn, Veta and Felix and the love interest, Sean are the members of the band C-side. Their personalities are strong and interesting. These people made the book more fun to read.
I’m pleased with the romance of this book. It wasn’t heavy or completely cliché. I know that Sean will fall for her even with him saying Jasmine wasn’t his type. And the girls he likes (and liked before) are all Amy (his cheating ex-girlfriend) prototype. But what I didn’t expect that in the end they decided that both need to be fully committed with each other. I liked Jasmine’s decision that even though she knows she loves Sean, she didn’t want to enter a relationship with uncertainty. Especially on Sean’s part. She’s aware of his situation, and her loving him is not enough. And I find that admirable. So no, I liked the ending. It doesn’t have that tone of finality to it (no pun intended), but it still worked. Yes, it totally worked.
Now for the music part, to be honest I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should. I liked the story, the characters and the romance, everything I think worked for me except the music. Which I’m somewhat disappointed because it is the book’s overall theme. It came to me as a plot device, a means to an end. Which truthfully, is not entirely a bad thing. When they’re playing their music, I cannot feel the music, it was soundless. I don’t know, maybe because it sounds more technical rather than lyrical which I hugely preferred. I actually commend those people who wrote stories that are music centered; it’s hard to send the message to readers especially about music when we don’t hear it. So while the music in this book personally fell short but the characters and the story make up for it. Overall I liked it!