Robert Muchamore is already established as a best selling writer of young people's fiction. Here he tackles the music industry with a story linking young people from a host of different backgrounds, all with a host of different issues and all wanting to make it in music through band competitions.
The characters are generally well-drawn, interesting and engaging. Talented songwriter and guitarist Jay has a chaotic family background with a host of half-siblings. Most of his brothers are the bulky sons of a local hardened criminal, he is the lightly built offspring of the policeman his mother seduced, bullied by his thuggish younger brother. Falling out with his band mates - chiefly the noxious Tristan- he decides to set up his own band, which includes older brother and former young offender Theo.
Vocalist Summer lives with her disabled grandmother in a run down tower block where the lifts seldom work, but works hard at school and does her best to avoid trouble. Trouble comes in the shape of priviledged but flaky Michelle, the indulged child of a wealthy business family.
Dylan is the public school educated stepson of a music producer who does his best to avoid anything resembling hard work, but especially sport.
The story eventually builds to all of the above - plus others - meeting up at a band competition in London, with a plethora of incidents placing barriers in their way beforehand. There's criminal activity galore - which as in life, often goes unpunished.
The story is structured for a sequel, and consequently the ending is slightly unsatisfactory, leaving things in mid air. It's definitely not a story for younger children, but those of 13 and above - the age range of the main characters - should be fine.
There's a thread of gritty realism, including some physical violence throughout, it isn't a comfortable cosy story, so do be warned. Was all the violence necessary in a story focused around music?