Encore to an Empty Room (Exile #2)
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.
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.
I ended up enjoying this sequel slightly more than the first book. I still had some of the same problems with it but there was more happening with the band, with Summer and Caleb’s relationship, with the mystery of the lost songs. The band was getting more attention so it was harder for them to fly under the radar as they hunted for the clues and there was of course a lot of attention now that the secret of Caleb’s father had been exposed.
Summer was a character I still find myself unsure about. One minute I love her fierce personality an her determination to do what she believes is best for the band. The next minutes I want to scream at her that there’s more to the band than Caleb and his father’s songs. If she truly wanted to be involved with managing bands as a career, this seemed like a good example of how not to manage your clients. I did enjoy her struggles between trying to manage the band and college applications and interviews.
I felt for all the guys in the bands in this book. They just wanted to play music and get a little recognition for themselves, not because one of who Caleb’s father was. Normally a character acting like Jon was in this book would have annoyed me but instead I just really felt for him the most. Nothing he did or said seemed to be right, he couldn’t get any attention from his supposed manager who was too busy being Caleb’s girlfriend or obsessed with finding the lost tapes, and I could see where this thing he loved, playing music, became less and less of a thing he loved to do as the book went on and that hurt. I felt for Matt too since the tension between Jon and Caleb was high and dealing with it wasn’t easy. And Caleb, he never asked for any of it but he never really helped matters by being so closed off and unwilling to talk to his bandmates. Val, she was a mess and I have a feeling there’s even more to her story that we’ll see in the next book.
The book had lots of fun elements that made it a fast read. There was the main mystery of the lost songs, there was the band’s performances and there was some road trips antics that made me laugh. There were times when things got a little too over the top but still fun to read. Like the first book, this one also a had a Bandslam type feel to it and set up the third book well.