Author: Jessica Martinez
Published: 2011 by Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuster)
Where I got the book from: the librarySynopsis: Goodreads
Carmen is estranged from the world of ordinary teenagers, stuck in a life full of music with her strict mother, kind stepfather and grumpy violin teacher being her only company. Not the most original premise for a book, perhaps, but honestly I haven’t read that many music-centred books (namely If I Stay, Where She Went) so I thought I’d give this one a try.
Carmen is working hard to achieve her greatest dream, winning the prestigious Guarneri music competition that would certainly guarantee her career as a violinist. Her mother, an ex-musician, has always pressed her to do more than her best. However, vying for victory is also another virtuoso, Jeremy King, an obnoxious guy of her age. Carmen’s emotional struggles were described well enough, and I absolutely loved the passion evoked into the passages about music, but the plot didn’t whirl me away in ecstasy. I also was a little sceptical towards the romance – it was definitely insta-love, basically changing in the space of a few hours from near hate into a complete crush. Despite the fact that Carmen has no previous experience of boys I find it unrealistic for her to fall head over heels a few hours after she meets a specimen of the opposite gender, especially if thirty pages before she's thinking of him as a "complete jackass".
Regardless of my issues with the romance plot, I found Virtuosity entertaining and worth reading. An interesting twist was Carmen’s stage fright and Inderal addiction, especially because it caused a contrast in what music was supposed to give her – passion and joy – and what kind of affect taking the Inderal actually had on her playing – an hollow, empty feeling.
In short, Virtuosity didn’t actually bore me, although for me it doesn’t stand out among contemporary YA novels. The importance of music was portrayed beautifully but the romance felt lacking and unrealistic with its insta-love qualities.
3/5 Though I don't love this novel, the music aspect is very well-written!