THE SOUND OF US by Hammerle has a fantastically relatable narrative voice that throws you right into the story. I couldn't put this down and read very late into the night to finish it. THE SOUND OF US is overall a very simple story but it’s so fantastically well executed that you just have to continue turning pages.
I absolutely loved Kiki! She is a fantastic mix of spunky, generous, and nerdy. She’s a character that has a lot going on (both internally and externally), and a lot of short comings, but one you immediately route for and want to see succeed. I found myself cringing with her, laughing at her, and routing for her – sometimes all in the same chapter.
Kiki’s character development is really the strongest aspect of this story. At first, she is an incredibly shy, timid girl who had more Twitter followers than real friends and would much rather browse social media than socialize. Yet Kiki’s experience and new friendships at this music camp help to transform her into this confident young woman who loves joking around and hanging out with her new-found group of friends. Additionally, the supporting female characters are so well fleshed out, and Kiki made real female friends who treated her kindly and accepted her with her weird pop culture obsessions and all. Brie and Kendra initially appeared to be stereotypes of the perfect, popular girl and the wild party girl, but Hammerle developed them into so much more. It was encouraging to see such positive female friendships even in the midst of an incredible competitive culture.
This novel is also laugh out loud funny. This book had me laughing and smiling, and the narrator’s specific style of narration is one that I found immediately enjoyable. THE SOUND OF US is filled with pop culture references of the past two decades, some you'll recognize, some are stand-ins, and it's a delight to read. I especially loved Kiki's tendency to compare every new person she meets to some character from a TV show. Her love for twitter and the fictional TV show Project Earth are only small factors that contribute to making Kiki an insanely relatable character.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While I understand that the camp experience needed something to create suspense, the snitching and sabotaging is a little over the top. I was especially surprised at how immature and petty Kiki’s older sister was. Even though she had graduated from college, she was just as bad, if not worse, than the most problematic friends at camp and at home.
THE SOUND OF US is an incredible coming-of-age story with a feisty heroine, a moving romance, and outstanding supporting characters. It’s entertaining, laugh out loud funny, and has a cast of characters you’ll immediately fall in love with.