Sunday, March 27, 2016

Book Review: 'This Song Will Save Your Life' by Leila Sales

I have really mixed feelings about this book. Really mixed feelings.

This Song Will Save Your Life tells the story of Elise Dembowski, an awkward 16-year-old girl who struggles to fit in at school. Constantly bullied and picked on, Elise vows to make herself 'cool' by observing how other 'cool girls' act and becoming like them, but that quickly backfires and she's made things even worse. Then, one night, she stumbles onto an indie warehouse party known as Start and is soon thrust into the world of other misfits, DJs and nightlife.

On the one hand, I really enjoyed Elise's story; her dialogue was very relatable for anyone who didn't fit in or wasn't popular in high school. Her character developed very nicely and the plot point that starts off the story is very nicely integrated into the rest of the story. Her home life and her feelings as to why she thinks nobody likes her was very well written, and I couldn't stop thinking back to my own years in high school when things that happened to Elise were happening to me. However, on the other hand, I think the musical aspect that a title like This Song Will Save Your Life would suggest was a bit lost in Elise's teenage girl drama. Not to say her teenage girl drama didn't have a point or was annoying or anything; her drama was very in-touch with what misfits go through, but at the same time, the short-lived romance she has with a guy she meets at Start seemed extremely out of place and cliché. I just think it didn't fit in with the tone of a 16-year-old misfit girl's narrative of how she couldn't make any descent friends at her high school and how she found a place where she could finally fit in and do what she finds out she loves (DJing).

The romance wasn't bad, I just think it would've fit better in a story about a young girl fresh out of college trying to make it on her own in New York City or something. I don't see how the romance she had with Char, the original DJ at Start, in any way helped her become who she wanted to be. Yes, it might have influenced her, but it just seemed very out of place. The writing style also failed to be unique from any other YA novel I've read like this one, which was a bit disappointing. I also thought the resolution to who was cyberbullying Elise in the end was really lame; I expected something totally different and it was just a big stink bomb for me.

Elise's taste in music is completely different from mine, so maybe that's part of why I wasn't blown away by the musical aspect, but I also believe that the musical aspect could've been pushed a little bit more to the forefront of the story instead of it just being used as something that Elise finds out she loves and wants to pursue. All in all, This Song Will Save Your Life had some nice and some not so nice parts for me; not the best book ever, but certainly not the worst either. 3.5/5 stars.

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