Beat the Band by Don Calame (ARC) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the first in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoiled for you.
'Who gets more girls than a rock god? No one.'
In the hotly-awaited sequel to the hysterical Swim the Fly, Coop finds himself partnered with social outcast 'Hot Dog' Helen for a class project on safe sex. Desperate to find a way of saving his rep, Coop decides that winning the school Battle of the Bands contest is the perfect solution.
Surely the small fact that neither he nor his best friends, Sean and Matt, can actually play an instrument will stop them achieving rock-and-roll awesomeness... From Amazon UK
After finishing Swim the Fly, I just knew I had to read the sequel, Beat the Band, and was really looking forward to getting started, sure it was going to be just as brilliant as the one before. I was wrong. It was better!
When I picked the book up, I didn't realise narrators had changed, and I was a little worried about it because I really liked Matt in the previous book, but wasn't so keen on Cooper. He seemed a little arrogant and pretty annoying at how he wanted the other two boys to do what he wanted. And he is still the same guy in this book, but because he's telling the story, we get to know him better, and he's not all bad. I ended up really liking him, even though he's a complete idiot at times. I was really impressed with how the characters are still exactly the same, even though the narrators changed. That may sound odd - the same author wrote the book, why would they be different? But that's not what I mean. Compared to other books where narrators changed, I found these books kept the voices of the characters better. It's like they're so well formed in Calame's head that a change in narrator didn't make any difference at all.
I also think I enjoyed this book more for three reasons; the band, Hot Dog Helen, and Coop. I used to have friends in a band and I went to quite a lot of their gigs when I was younger, so even though they weren't a proper band in the fact that they weren't gigging, I still understood and got the musical element of the story as I've heard similar things before. Just like Hot Dog Helen, but for other reasons, I was also completely unpopular at school and ridiculed because of it. So these two elements made this story relateable and credible for me.
And Coop... well, he's just a silly sod. He's just such an idiot, doing stupid things just so he could look good, and screw who gets hurt in the process. That sounds like he's a bully, and technically he is, I suppose, but he's not intending to hurt people, just to make sure he can get out of looking bad through association. I know that doesn't sound much better, but reading his point of view, he's just such a boy and makes lots of mistakes, and although you want to shake him sometimes, you feel more disappointed than angry at him. And he does have lots of softer, nicer moments, and he does have a conscience that beats him over the head quite a lot, so he's not all bad. It was his change from bit of a git into a nice, brave guy who doesn't care what other people think that I loved.
This book is just as funny, if not more so, than the last, and I just absolutely loved it! There are the highs and lows, but with so much humour, I was again laughing out loud as I read. It really was brilliant! It's been decided. I will definitely be getting my hands on anything Calame writes in the future. He is not one to miss. Highly recommended!
Thank you to Templar for sending me a review copy.
Published: 1st February 2012
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Buy on Amazon US
Don Calame's Website
Other reviews from the series:
Swim the Fly (Swim the Fly Book 1)