review: virtuosity by jessica martinez

Author: Jessica Martinez
Publication Date: 10/18/2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 304
Source: ARC (Thank you kindly to Simon & Schuster.)

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot... what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she can't just stay away. Nobody else understands her - and riles her up - like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: she is so desperate to win, she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she's told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall.
Carmen Bianchi and her violin are inseparable. For as long as she can remember she's always known that her path in life goes like this: practice practice practice, win the Guarneri, impress the world of classical music, and afterward continue to tour and play venues such as Carnegie Hall. Already having won Grammys and several recording contracts, it almost seemed a certainty. Until it wasn't.

Other than books, music is what I live for. And while listening to music is astounding, being able to create that music yourself - well, there are no words for that feeling. Reading this book brought me back to every moment on stage, and for that alone it was worth it. One of my favorite things about Virtuosity, as a musician also, is that violin is never referred to as 'the violin', as that would imply a sense of distance between Carmen and her violin that does not exist. This phrasing continues throughout the story and every single time I saw that I just about burst into a smile. That's how you know the author fully gets music.

The flow of the story worked quite well for me, as in the beginning, we figure out that Carmen's mother, Diana, herself was an opera singer until she had to receive surgery on her throat that rendered her voice incompatible. It was strange to have Carmen's narrative voice refer to her mother as 'Diana' until later on I realised it felt like a distancing measure; while Diana was her mother, she was more so a manager and a stage parent. Throughout the story you get to see a transition of Diana's role from one end to the other, and to me it was almost as if Carmen thought that her mother would never do anything terrible, but this Diana possibly could.

This helped me to understand Carmen a lot better as well, as she's been home schooled and hasn't had the chance to experience the things that other people her age would have gotten to do. So when she finally meets the elusive Jeremy King she's shocked that he's not at all like she is, and wholly different than what she expected. The real person dynamic between Carmen and Jeremy was refreshing, and while reading I had the impression that I was getting to explore new things along with them, and never felt like I could anticipate what their outcome would be. Theirs is a story I would like to know more about.

Virtuosity is a book that's not just about music, but about exploring your choices and having the ability to figure out that everything isn't quite set in stone. That said, Virtuosity is one that I think that anyone could pick up and really fall into - and if you have ever played an instrument, particularly a string instrument like I have, then I imagine that this book and you have an upcoming date.

4 comments on "review: virtuosity by jessica martinez"

Leanna Elle wrote: Sat Oct 22, 07:50:00 PM

I have this one to read soon, so glad to hear you liked it. I'm not a musician myself, but I love books that feature music as I listen to it lots! :)

We Heart YA wrote: Sun Oct 23, 02:39:00 PM

Wow, great review. We don't love the cover, but the relationships sound great. They also remind us a little bit of Where She Went, which can only be a good thing, hehe.

Nomes wrote: Mon Oct 24, 10:02:00 PM

such a fab review :D

i loved this one as well, even though i am not overly musical. i liked the tension in it and all the shades of grey in between :)

Cass wrote: Mon Nov 07, 06:22:00 PM

This is a BEAUTIFUL blog/site. :) Definitely new follower. Great review too. Very thorough. I can't wait to read this one myself!

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