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Rock Star, Superstar

Rock Star, Superstar

4.6 15
by Blake Nelson

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Can an idealistic guy survive the cutthroat music scene?

Music is Pete's life. From playing in a jazz band to jamming at 2 AM with his guitar-playing dad, Pete is almost never without his bass. He's sure his treasured Fender Precision bass, along with his vow never to be a sell-out, will lead him to a record deal one day.

Then he meets the Carlisle


Can an idealistic guy survive the cutthroat music scene?

Music is Pete's life. From playing in a jazz band to jamming at 2 AM with his guitar-playing dad, Pete is almost never without his bass. He's sure his treasured Fender Precision bass, along with his vow never to be a sell-out, will lead him to a record deal one day.

Then he meets the Carlisle brothers. They can't sing and they can barely play their instruments, but somehow they have a following. And they desperately need a bass player. Pete can play circles around these amateurs, but there's a raw power to their sound that's surprisingly appealing. He can't resist, and he joins The Tiny Masters of Today. When the band gets a chance at real superstardom, Pete wonders if he's ready for the big leagues. He knows the quality of the music should come first... but who knew selling out could be so much fun? Blake Nelson's riveting novel shows the realities of life in a band, and all the temptations that come with it.

ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2005

ALA Best Book for Young Adults 2005

New York Public Library Best Book for Teen Age 2005

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this year's best offering on the rock band life, Nelson (The New Rules of High School) gives an entertaining and realistic insider's view, through the eyes of Pete, the son of musicians, living in the Pacific Northwest. The 17-year-old narrator plays bass in a cover band for school dances and parties. But when Pete agrees to join The Tiny Masters of Today (whose members he originally called "amateurs"), he gets caught up in the group's chaotic energy and original style. The former jazz band "geek" gets a taste of rock star life, working clubs, meeting girls-even fighting with the erratic guitar player. But Pete's a regular teen, too: he has sparse conversations with his new girlfriend (" `Do you want to break up?' she said./ `No. Do you?'/ `No' ") and while they grow to love each other, the author makes clear that they are on different paths. At home, Pete jams with his widower dad in the basement, but his father goes out a lot and drinks heavily. In one heartbreaking moment, Pete recalls when he was nine and heard a tape his father made of one of his mom's concerts ("At the sound of my mother's voice I had burst into tears"). Nelson paints Pete as endearingly clueless, yet the teen proves his loyalty throughout the book-to his girlfriend, to his dad and ultimately to his music. Readers will likely lap up this look at what it's like for a band trying to make it, from the slick industry people, to the energy that comes when everything is in synch. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"We walked toward her house. She didn't talk. I didn't talk. It was okay though." This passage is typical of the writing in this novel, and unless the author is aspiring for irony, it is curious that he choose such a minimalist, deliberate, and purposely bland style for a first-person story about a young man's passion for music. The tale is standard rock-and-roll fantasy as Pete goes from bass player in his high school jazz band to inches away from landing a management deal with the band Tiny Masters of Today. Along the way, the band is reviewed in the local paper, cuts a CD, and everyone plays their hit song on their Ipods. The reality part of the story is more interesting as Pete deals with the complications of first love and works out his relationship with his father. The energy, madness, and passion that teens have for music is tough to capture in a young adult novel. The number of books that fail is long. The successful ones-Fat Kid Rules the World (G. P. Putnam's, 2003/VOYA June 2003) and the recent Sky (Atheneum/S & S, 2004/VOYA October 2004) come to mind-comprise a list as short as a Nelson sentence. Nelson's most recent teen novel, New Rules of High School (Viking, 2003/VOYA June 2003) also featured the same languid narration. The question is that if the narrator is detached, will readers be able to engage themselves enough to care about the characters? Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not. This book is one of those times that it does not. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Viking, 224p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Patrick Jones
Children's Literature
Pete is in high school and a bass player in a band. He is invited to play for another band, but he thinks their music is terrible and the lead members are not professional. Pete does not want to join, but when he decides to play with them, he feels their music has a unique beat. He also gets a girlfriend. Sex is dealt with in a very open, casual, but sincere manner. Pete and Margaret mutually agree and use a condom. He remains loyal to Margaret on trips with the band and when the couple temporarily break up and he has sex with another girl, it is devoid of feeling and has no meaning. He would rather be back with Margaret. Dialogue is vague and full of high school lingo. Peter tries to dress in "cool" clothes when part of the band. Margaret and Pete make out and "do other stuff." When the music that he first thought was bad becomes a "confused, noisy, mess," the audience goes wild. The story ends with the two "amateur" members of the band forming a new group while Peter and his friend, Kevin, are left behind. Not all is lost, however. He gets back with Margaret. In this coming of age novel, Pete experiences his first sex and gets recording experience with a band and in the end accepts what he has learned and knows there is more to come. 2004, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 15 to 18.
—Janet L. Rose
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-A brilliant, tender, funny, and utterly believable novel about music and relationships. Pete, 16, joins a band possibly headed for stardom. While the three other performers in Tiny Masters dream of fame and fortune, Pete loves the music and relishes the chance to play his bass guitar on stage. As the group's popularity grows, he also stumbles his way through his first romance. The relationship is awkward, sweet, wonderful, and confusing all at the same time. Margaret makes the first move, and at the beginning Pete is ambivalent, but eventually he realizes that he has fallen in love with her. Complications ensue, including Pete's feelings of jealousy, his need to dedicate time to his music, and Margaret's parents' anger when they find out that the teenagers are having sex. Pete's voice is totally convincing, as are his interactions with his widowed father and his male friends. Readers who loved Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess (S & S, 2004) and Sarra Manning's Guitar Girl (Dutton, 2004) will find that this novel takes a more down-to-earth view of the road to stardom, with hard work and disappointment part of the package. Pete is one of the best male protagonists in recent YA fiction and the other characters are equally strong.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Music permeates Eric's life, including his current group, Mad Skillz, a cover band playing school dances in Portland, Oregon, in the 80s. Fellow jazz-band member and drummer Kevin is part of a newer rock group called Tiny Masters of Today, which needs a bass player of his caliber. To complicate his life, Todd is gradually finding himself becoming attached to Margaret, a girl he originally felt was weird and uncool. Nelson takes the reader along a mesmerizing road to increasing fame and glory as the Tiny Masters' energy and emotion grab fans in spite of their somewhat inept musicianship. Paralleling this development is the increasing sexuality of the relationship Todd has with Margaret. That both of these plotlines will not end in a happily-ever-after style is clear, but readers will enjoy the crisply realistic denouement as well as the ride. Grabber historical fiction. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.86(d)
530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Rock Star Superstar 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The pines, which were gently swaying in the wind and richly smelling of fresh sap and needles, whispered taunts to Hazelpaw as she stood at the border. <br> "If only you can join us on /this/ side of the border..." they seemed to be chanting. Tired and frustrated and grumpy, the apprentice sharply turned back to face WaterClan territory; but in comparision with the beautiful landscape she spent minutes staring into, it only made the urge worse. <br> "I've gotta get that kit, I've gotta get that kit..." she muttered restlessly to herself, pacing on the forest floor. But the question was, how? And in the end, can she really bring herself to steal Ripplestar's daughter? She continued to pace, mind spinning like clockwork, but coming up with nothing. Hazelpaw sighed and plopped down on the leaf-littered floor, looking up at the sky. The sun was barely in sight, and purple clouds stood out againt the orange sky, the signature of Dusk. <br> "I guess it's time to go back," she sighed. With the last rays of the sun lighting her path, she was able to make it back to camp without any hassle. The camp was in shock when she arrived, though... cats' faces were flooding with mixed emotion. Most of WaterClan was crowded around the nursery, so Hazelpaw shoved and pushed her way to the front of the mob, leading inside the warm, milky-scented den. Crystalsky fiercely hissed at the cats crowding her and the kit, standing protectvely over the white-furred she-kit, her daughter. Hazelpaw couldn't come up with why the kit drew in such a crowd, until she turned her head. Startling red eyes peeked curiously at Hazelpaw, until Crystalsky blocked the crowd's view. *What in StarClan's name is wrong with that kit? She has red eyes!* complete shock washed over Hazelpaw, but then it turned to satisfaction, sweet as honey. *Maybe it won't be so difficult to get myself to steal her... I'll be in ScorchClan in no time.* <p> (That was Hazelpaw's Promise, the first Winterberry's Struggle Super Edition! It ends there, because you already know how she stole Winterkit if you read Winterberry's Struggle. Remember to make requests and suggestions in the first result!) <p> -&#1071|Reflections&#9830
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
robert hammond More than 1 year ago
for a short story (i call anything under 200 pgs short its 127pgs) it was really good! i wish there was more
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally, a decent book following a high schooler who wants to become a rock legend. I thought the characters were true to life--their struggles seemed accurately portrayed. A bit gritty in places, but a strong novel. Boys would eat this up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I was timid about reading this book. But after I got into it, this is one of the best books I have ever read! Any teenager from the ages of 13-18 will LOVE this book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is about rock music but it is a solid full wonderful novel. There is humor, a love story, everything.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great novel, most readers will be able to relate because it talks about love, music, school, and the hardships of teenage life. It mentions many facts about older bands like Metallica and Nirvana, aswell as Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC. If you play an instrument of any kind, this book is for you. Just remember, a dream is easily broken...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first read of Blake Nelsons books, and I really got it to his writing after I read this book because he was so upfront in this book, I am already ready to read it again
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books I've ever read! Its a book about a boy who goes through some really hard times but does it for the thing he loves..... music! He has hard times but good times come along too. You have to read it or you're missing out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Having been a fan of Blake Nelson's since I first read Girl, I can say that this just another example of what makes him such an honest and interesting author. Being in a band, being in high school, being in relationships, it doesn't matter what he's writing about, he just gets it 'right.' Fans of Blake Nelson should not miss this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was awesome. it shows what it's like in a band, fighting, getting high, getting girls. But also shows the hardwork and pain of being lonely on the road. The best part is when he goes out with the really popular girl and sees how shallow she is, but she still gets with her anyway because he's POed at his old girlfriend.