Drummer Girl by Bridget Tyler
Published: 1 May 2013 (Templar)
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Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
It was supposed to be the summer of her life. Instead, 17-year-old Lucy finds her best friend Harper shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did it come to this? Lucy Gosling is the drummer in Crush, a rock band formed by five London schoolgirls that has just won the UK semi-final of an international talent contest. But when the band lands in Hollywood for the big final, things are not quite as they seem. The band's lead singer, Harper, has just one thing on her mind - using sex, drugs and rock and roll, not to mention Crush itself, to win back her bad-news ex-boyfriend. Lucy must decide whether she's playing to Harper's tune, or setting the rhythm for the rest of the band.
I'd been eagerly anticipating this book so when I won a copy I was ecstatic! Drummer Girl tells follows Lucy and her friends as they rise to fame after entering TV talent show Project Next with their band Crush.
The opening of Drummer Girl immediately grabbed me, as the first scene is Lucy witnessing the discovery of her friend Harper's body in a pool. Then the book flashes back to eight months earlier and the rest of the book leads up to that moment. It was a fantastic way to draw the reader in and it gave me a taste of what to expect from the rest of the book.
The book follows Lucy and her friends (or not-quite-friends) Harper, Iza, Toni and Robyn as they progress their way through the talent show. The plot wasn't quite what I was expecting, but in a good way because it delivered so much more! The reality show took a bit of a backseat and Drummer Girl became a very character driven with all of the girls having their own drama and dilemmas along the way. The characters were incredibly dynamic and instantly recognisable. I loved seeing how each of them adapted to their new found fame because they all have such different reactions.
Drummer Girl is written in third person and the perspective sort of floats between characters. At first I found this a little confusing because I would lose track of whose viewpoint we were in and have to double back, but it was actually a technique I grew to love because it gave you a chance to focus on all the individual characters and their stories. They all had so much going on that I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on that by just focusing on one person.
My favourite plotline was Robyn's which was definitely the most harrowing and the most moving. When we're first introduced to Robyn she's looking at herself in the mirror and loathing her body. Body image is such an important image to young girls (and boys) and I was so glad to see it addressed. As Robyn becomes wrapped up in this world of fame and celebrity she has even more problems with her body because industry types are drawing attention to the fact she's bigger than the other girls and telling her it's not okay. I was so mad at those people and felt so much for Robyn, who is one of the loveliest people. The environment she ends up in is so toxic and it really is sad to see. I was really pleased the author tackled the issue of eating disorders.
Like I said, the plot wasn't as pink and fluffy and fun like I was expecting and the book does deal with things like drink and drugs. The characters are sixth form age which I think is the perfect age to tackle those issues. Running alongside that were simple things like university worries. Both Lucy and Iza are facing pressure from their parents about getting into top universities. I loved that it was set in the UK and focused on the British school system because it made it feel even more familiar.
With the title it's clear Lucy (the drummer girl) plays an important role and that was summed up brilliantly in this quote.
"You're the drummer," she said to herself. "It's your job to keep them on the beat. To hold it all together."
I could completely sympathise with her because she had all that responsibility for her friends and kind of get caught up in the middle of everything. She had amazing potential and it was really great to see her dedication to her music.
As well as the main five characters, there are some great secondary characters to get your teeth stuck into, including the evil Tomas, mysterious Skye and the management staff looking after the girls. Usually in books with lots of characters I can struggle to keep up with who's who, but that was never a problem in Drummer Girl because they're all so unique and dynamic, as well as all being vital to the clockwork of the plot.
The actual physical book and the way it's laid out is worth mentioning too. I loved the pink edging on the pages and the fact that the chapter index was written as a track list. It just added to the experience of reading the book.
That opening meant there was always going to be a lot of tension and suspense as we find out what happened, and it didn't disappoint. The climax was incredible and full of action. I liked how we got to find out what happened to all the characters and how their own individual plotlines were wrapped up, although I would liked to have known a bit more about Toni.
Drummer Girl was an incredibly addictive read with incredible characters and gave a look at the darker side of fame. I was blown away by the writing and it had one of the best openings to a book I've ever read. I'll definitely be recommending this one in future.
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