Saturday, December 20, 2014

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

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10638712 Title: Five Flavors of Dumb
Author: Antony John
Publisher: Speak 
Publication date: September 29, 2011
Pages: 352
Buy: Amazon
Rating: 5/5 stars 

Piper is a seventeen-year-old high school senior, and she's just been challenged to get her school's super-popular rock band, Dumb, a paying gig. The catch? Piper is deaf. Can she manage a band with five wildly different musicians, nurture a budding romance, and discover her own inner rock star, though she can't hear Dumb's music?

You know those plots that don't have a lot going on, but in the end, you still feel like the characters have traveled far? You know, those books that, to illustrate, start at the front door and end at the back door? Well, Five Flavors of Dumb is just that. The story is about music, but it doesn't go too far. There is growth and character development, and the story does move forward at a steady pace, but it's not unbelievable. They don't claim worldwide fame within 352 pages, which is reasonable unless the span of the novel goes beyond 10 years or so. Basically, Five Flavors of Dumb is the journey of the individual flavors of the band, especially about Piper, instead of the band's fame.

Piper, the narrator, has been tasked to be the manager of the dysfunctional band appropriately called Dumb. Piper has just lost her college fund because of her parents, and now she's desperate to gain some money so she can get out, and get into her dream college. Dumb may not be the best choice, but it's the only choice she has. Oh yeah, and Piper is deaf. 

My favorite thing about this book is its emphasis on not letting a "disability" define you. Piper is deaf, but she's strong. She lets people know what she thinks, and she takes on tasks any "normal" person would do. People around her, even her own parents, constantly remind her of her disability, but she remains unfazed. For me, Piper is one of the most inspiring characters of this genre. A+ to Antony John for nailing the tone and attitude of a teenage girl, too! 

Every character has his own fair share of "screen" time. They all develop in their own ways, and even though most of the novel is focused on Piper's growth, the growth of the five flavors of Dumb still shines through. I especially enjoyed watching Kallie, the piece of eye candy, grow from a stereotypical popular girl into an honest girl who holds herself up.  I also loved the growth between Ed Chen and Piper. It did not seemed rushed since it was already established. It also did not turn this brilliant novel into a sappy teenage romance. 

Also, the writing was brilliant, especially with its descriptions about the music! I've tried to describe music before, but the way Antony John writes it in this novel is just beyond me. It's so full of energy and sparks and flavors. 
I thought this book was going to be another unrealistic YA novel about the rise to fame. I'm extremely glad that it focused on the core - on the flavors - instead. Antony John writes with so much energy that it feels like you're on stage with Dumb. His voice certainly pulled this story to a whole new level. I am definitely going to follow his works for the years to come.


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