Monday, June 22, 2015

ARC Review: The Rise and Fall of A Theater Geek by Seth Rudetsky

Title: The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek
Author: Seth Rudetsky
Published: June 23, 2015 by Random House Childrens
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The shows, the neon lights . . . the cute chorus boys! It's where Justin has always wanted to be--and now, with a winter internship for a famous actor, he finally has his chance to shine. If only he could ditch his kind, virtuous, upright, and--dare he say it?—uptight boyfriend, Spencer. But once the internship begins, Justin has more to worry about than a cramped single-guy-in-the-city style. Instead of having his moment in the spotlight, he's a not-so-glorified errand boy. Plus, Spencer is hanging out with a celebra-hottie, Justin's best friend Becky isn't speaking to him, and his famous actor boss seems headed for flopdom. Justin's tap-dancing as fast as he can, but all his wit and sass might not be enough to switch his time in New York from nightmare-terrible to dream-come-true terrific. 

Seth Rudetsky's second YA novel is endearingly human, laugh-out-loud funny, and for any kid who's ever aspired to Broadway but can only sneak in through the stage door.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from  the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek had all the trappings of a book o should enjoy. The character sounded like someone I would connect with and the plot sounded interesting and engaging. Unfortunately a lot of this book didn't work for me.

One of the major things that didn't work for me was the characters. You guys know I like unlikable characters. I'm typically a fan of realistic type MCs that do and say things that are sometimes whiny or mean. But in the case of our main character here, , I just found him to be selfish and conceited. He wanted everything to go his way and he thought he knew what was best for everyone. He was like a modern day Emma Woodhouse, meddling in other people's lives and thinking that he would get what he deserved. I found it so hard to connect with that. Even when bad things happened to him, for me it didn't serve to humanize him in a way that made him relatable or empathetic. 

But I would have been okay with the unlikable nature of the main character of the plot of the book had been more of a coming-of-age story. Usually with these kinds of contemporary novels, especially if they have unlikable protagonists, that's what happens. The MC will have some sort of character arc and development that humbles them a little bit. They will learn something about themselves and their behavior. And I know that was kind of the attempt here but it didn't really work for me. I felt like by the end of the book Justin was more validated by his behavior than anything else. I just wish that there was more of a coming-of-age plot line to this book.

In fact the plot really was more of a mystery than anything else. Or at least I think it wanted to be a mystery. There was definitely a mysterious element to the book. And while I love a good mystery, this too fell a bit short for me. The main character did attempt to find clues and figure out the truth, but in the end the answer just seemed to fall into his lap. I thought I had it all figured out and while I was sort of right about the person who I thought was sketchy and up to know good, the actual "Phantom" that they were looking for was a total surprise. But a surprise in that I didn't feel like there was sufficient information to figure out they were responsible. For me I think this book was a case of too much going on. The mystery was just a little too much. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had stuck to the coming-of-age angle and given that a little more attention.

One thing that I did like however was the setting. I'm definitely Broadway-obsessed just like our main character and I loved that New York City and Broadway was such a big part of this book. I loved all the references to Broadway shows and the conversations about Broadway the characters had. I also really loved that it made living and working in New York City seem realistic. I have so many friends and family who moved to New York after college because it is so glamorized in film and television only to find that it's expensive and difficult. I felt like this book portrayed the good things and the bad about the City. I also liked that it showed the difficulties of the internship the character had. It wasn't at all what he expected. It was all grunt work. It felt very honest and I liked that.

The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek was a quick contemporary read but unfortunately for me it fell more than it rose. It had all the trappings of a book I would enjoy but I was ultimately unable to connect with the characters and found the plot to have a little too much going on.

I give The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek by Seth Rudetsky 6 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Bypass. While I did like a few aspects of this book and don't regret reading it, I'm not sure I would recommend it. If you a big fan of Broadway then check it out. If you like books with unlikable protagonists then check it out. I'd probably call this Emma meets The Devil Wears Prada on Broadway. If that applies to you then check it out.

Have you read The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek? What did you think about it? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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