Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Grade: 3.5 out of 5
Carmen Bianchi is a 17 year old accomplished violinist who’s dream is to win the Guarneri competition. There are only two main obstacles in her way—her nerves and her male British counterpart Jeremy King. The first obstacle is easily taken care since she takes Inderal to calm herself before performances. But Jeremy is an entirely different story. He’s just as competitive as Carmen, and extremely attractive. When he starts to flirt with her, Carmen is entirely caught off guard. In this novel of teenage rebellion, Carmen begins to question her own skills, her potential love’s motives, and even her mother’s intentions in an attempt to make sense of what it means to love music.Let me take this opportunity to mention that I’ve been playing piano for 15 years. The first ten or so, I played classical music almost exclusively, and I did a couple concerts. I also played for my high school’s talent show one year. But there’s a reason why I play in public so little; I get incredibly nervous. Even with one person in the room with me, my fingers and rhythm fall apart. So I believe I understand PERFECTLY how Carmen feels when she plays for audiences without Inderal.
Carmen is a brilliant violinist but it’s rather hard to hear the music Carmen plays in the novel, and because music should be a big part of her life, she’s hard to understand. But I did appreciate the growing that Carmen did that shows she is more than just a violinist:
- She decided not to take pills even though her mother insisted.
- She made her own choices instead of just listening to her mother.
- She snuck out with her pseudo-boyfriend.
- She made quasi-educated conclusions about God and religion.
However, her fights with her mother were hard to believe; she never fought with her mother before, and then when her mother says something reasonable that Carmen doesn’t like, Carmen takes that opportunity to start ignoring her mother for the first time in 17 years. Distrust almost overnight? It just feels too sudden.
I also didn’t like the romantic plot. This homeschooled, romantically-naïve girl meets Jeremy King for the first time, he’s rude to her, and then she agrees to go out to dinner with him. Does that make sense? Does anyone else stay out until 1am with a foreigner without telling anyone where your whereabouts? It sounds dangerous to me, but maybe it’s because I’ve never been the adventurous type. Jeremy’s just a tad bit too perfect too. He’s tall, blonde, blue eyed, etc. He’s one of those love interests that automatically falls in love with the main character and when his true side comes out he says standard lines like “I didn’t say anything I didn’t feel.” I wanted a bit more aggression instead of this sappy apologetic guy. It was incredibly human of him to want to win the competition for his disabled brother, and I didn’t want him to almost immediately renege on it. It was one of those statements that blur the lines between right and wrong. It was an exciting complication, but then it just dissolves. *sadface*
I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars, so I just decided to give it 3 and a half. The writing style didn’t make me cringe and it’s a quick read (took me 2 days and I’m a turtle), but the novel is missing something, and it has something to do with the characters personalities.
The cover is gorgeous, even though it’s missing a violin. Heheh