________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 11 . . . .January 19, 2007


Battle of the Bands. (Orca Soundings).

K.L. Denman.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
97 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55143-540-3 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55143-674-4 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Bands (Music)-Juvenile fiction.
Contests-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Carole Marion.

*** /4


Someday, everyone is going to listen to the Lunar Ticks. At least, that's what Jay believes of his rock band. Sometimes, the whole rush of music is perfect - for all of two minutes. Then someone messes up, and they have to start all over again. Jay doesn't blame Kelvin, their bassist, or his girlfriend Amy, whose mouth is one of the band's main problem. She's much too chatty, and every time the band finishes a song, she has to plaster her lips to Kel's. Then there's Cia, their drummer, who wastes everyone's time watching her cigarette smoke drift into the rafters of the smelly garage that doubles as their practice studio. They have a few kinks to work out. But Jay is convinced they're headed for stardom.

One day soon, we're going to win a major battle, like the one coming up in June. It's just a couple of weeks away, and we need that win. The prize is an entire day in a professional recording studio.

We're going to send out copies of our shiny CD, and all the DJs are going to play it and everyone's going to love it. We've got it all planned.

     Jay lives and breathes music, as does Kel, whose "brain is erased every time he enters the presence of the Fender Precision bass with starburst finish." Jay lives for the band battles that his Vancouver high school holds at lunchtime every month or two. Lately, his band has won every school competition, but they haven't been as lucky out-of-school where their rivals, Indigo Daze, get top prize. Jay is convinced his band is better than their rivals until he hears Indigo Daze's lead guitarist, Rowan, singing a heart-wrenching tribute to her deceased sister. Now his usual inspirational spots around town - like the cemetery during a full moon, the train station and the seedy eastside at night - are not helping him come up with any great ideas for a winning song. The Lunar Ticks are in trouble, and Jay is running out of ideas. And when Rowan's guitar is trashed just before the competition, the Lunar Ticks are the prime suspects.

      Filled with humour, first crushes and break-ups, Battle of the Bands tells the story of a teen who dreams of escaping his mundane life. His family is ordinary, and all his parents require of him is to go to school and keep curfew. But he finds grade eleven boring, and he feel inhibited by all the female attention he gets from being in a band because the girls are all more experienced than he is.

We talk and talk, and before I know it I'm spilling everything about my full-moon hunts for experience. Rowan stops and stares at me and I think she's going to laugh. But she doesn't. She takes hold of my hand and says, "What's your hurry?"

I shrug."I know. It's kind of lame, but life moves too slow sometimes. I'm planning to notch things up a bit. Get beyond just spying on the rest of the world."

"Spying on the world. That sounds like a title for a song."

I start to disagree, then stop. Maybe that is a title, but it's not as if I'm going to be writing any more music for a while. I give her a lopsided grin. "How did you get so smart?"

"Me? I'm not smart. I think I'm just wired that way ... For me," she says softly, "life sort of sped up. I had a sister who died a while ago. That was hard. Still is. You remind of her."

I croak, "Why?"

She keeps her gaze fixed on the horizon, and when she finally talks, her voice seems far away. "She was always looking for that next thrill, you know? ... No matter what she did, it was always all or nothing. She just flew, never stopped to figure anything out."

     Battle of the Bands is part of a series of "Orca Soundings" novels for reluctant teen readers.


Before taking on the position of Customer Service Manager of Calgary Public Library's Forest Lawn Branch, Carole Marion worked for over twenty years as a librarian serving youth and their caregivers for various public and school libraries.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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