Review Detail

3.7 1
Young Adult Fiction 1386
Music, Romance, and Mayhem
Overall rating
Writing Style
The sequel to Exile, Encore to an Empty Room picks up with the heart of the novel, Summer and her dedication to Dangerheart. While the band has gotten recognition because of frontman Caleb's famous dead father, Summer is still out there flyering the town, and letting the world know about Dangerheart.

She's a senior in high school, the band manager, and also being Caleb's girlfriend. Some of those things that don't seem to collide with her other plans. Summer's other side (Catherine) has perfect parents with perfectly dull lives. She has college essays and immediately after, college interviews. But music is her life. She knows the bands, the people, and she wants what's best for her team. Summer's struggle is real. Torn between the person she wants to be, and the person her parents expect her to me. It's something that all teens can relate to, and I'd go ahead and say that some adults as well.

What I loved:
The search for Eli's missing songs is planned out expertly. The mystery itself drives the plot, pushing the characters to their limits, and creating friction between bandmates. The search leads Dangerheart from LA to Denver to New York. While they're "chaperoned," the band finds itself in some serious drama-- accidental fun brownies, inner band jealousy, the evil head of a record label, and false leads.

Emerson gives each of his characters the well-rounded treatment. Summer, our narrator who is full of heart and passion, even if she has to second guess her future. Caleb, troubled, talented, and loyal. Val, bass player and Caleb's half-sister, who is totally messed up. She's a constant runaway, and dealing with demons she isn't prepared to handle alone. Matt, drummer and good friend (but lousy boyfriend). Jon, lead guitarist, has problems of his own that stem from Dangerheart's overnight notoriety. Even the minor characters are developed and add to the story.

I loved Summer. She's a girl who's been hurt in the past by a manipulative boyfriend, but she doesn't allow herself to be broken. Her relationship with Caleb is beautiful to watch unfold. While some of the other characters undergo romantic troubles, Summer and Caleb are solid. There's trust, kisses, and companionship. It's wonderful to see a healthy romance in YA.

One of my favorite Summer thoughts in the book is "...what if there isn't another time? The future is coming fast, whether it's the record labels or graduation..." It sums up the feel of the novel nicely. Each character has individual problems, and it seems like everything is happening so quickly. Including being courted by record labels. It's a wild ride, but everyone is on board for it.

What left me wanting:
BOOK 3! That twist at the end is seriously unexpected.

Final verdict:
Encore to an Empty Room is a novel full of rock and roll, friendships, and making tough choices. With a large cast, romance, and a mystery that keeps on getting bigger, Emerson leaves you wanting the next installment.
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