Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands

Fifteen young adult authors and one real-life rock star band together for one epic—and interconnected—take on a memorable high school rite of passage. A daughter of rock ’n’ roll royalty has a secret crush. A lonely ticket taker worries about his sister. An almost-famous songwriter nurses old wounds. A stage manager tires of being behind the scenes. A singer-songwriter struggles to untangle her feelings for her best friend and his girlfriend. In this live-out-loud anthology, the disparate protagonists of sixteen stories are thrown together for one unforgettable event: their high school’s battle of the bands. Told in a harmonic blend of first- and third-person narrative voices, roughly chronological short stories offer a kaleidoscopic view of the same transformative night. Featuring an entry from Justin Courtney Pierre, lead vocalist of Motion City Soundtrack, Battle of the Bands is a celebration of youth, music, and meeting the challenges of life head-on.

Editor review

1 review
Sixteen Stories. Sixteen Dreams. One Epic Night.
(Updated: September 11, 2021)
Overall rating
Writing Style
BATTLE OF THE BANDS is a YA anthology from sixteen different authors, edited by Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith. Each story is woven into the fabric of the ones before and after it, and are all uniquely related to one specific night: a high school music competition in which the winners will get recording time and a real chance of pursuing their rock n’ roll dreams. It all blends together seamlessly, showcasing that despite different circumstances, everyone is facing their fears, chasing their goals, discovering who they are, and in most cases, running late for the performance.

This anthology is the best one I’ve ever read or watched. I absolutely love how the stories all relate to one another, call back characters from earlier, and even share characters in some cases. It’s so clever and gives us such a delicious slice of what it’s really like to be backstage. Everyone has a different reason for being at the Battle of the Bands. Some are there as performers, judges, groupies, audience members, crew, and whatever else you can imagine. Some have been preparing forever for this night, and others make a split decision to go on stage. As someone who works in entertainment, I can say with authority that this feels real and accurate. In other words, they got it right.

Reading this book has been such a surprising comfort. I forgot how much I truly miss live events, and in a way, these stories have been a balm for the soul. I was living vicariously through them the entire time, as they put me back in a big crowd with friends, laughter, and good music. It’s such a nice way to celebrate that experience until we’re all able to be in big venues together again safely. Beyond that, the joy, angst, romance, and personal growth captured on these pages will continue to inspire as we are able to return to these activities again.

I highly recommend BATTLE OF THE BANDS for anyone who has ever held an instrument, was captivated by a voice, or found themselves watching CAMP ROCK on repeat.
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