November 25, 2012

Greg Taylor: "The Girl Who Became a Beatle"

Title: The Girl Who Became a Beatle [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Greg Taylor [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary, Multiverse
Year: 2011
Age: 12+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: Clean, fun read. Creative premise. May get kids interested in Beatles' music.
Cons: Very light fable. Some inconsistencies (see review). Predictable ending/moral.
Will appeal to: Those who love modern fables and dream of stardom.

Blurb: When Regina Bloomsbury’s band, the Caverns, breaks up, she thinks it’s all over. And then she makes a wish -  “I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles.” The Beatles are her music idols. The next day, she gets up to find that the Caverns are not just as famous as the Beatles, they have replaced them in history! Regina is living like a rock star, and loving it. But fame is getting the better of Regina, and she has a decision to make. Does she want to replace the Beatles forever? (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off, despite my rating, this is not a bad book. It just turned out to be much more juvenile than I thought it was. And predictable too - but still there is some fun to have along the way.
Regina is committed to her band, and to be honest, she seems to care more about actually playing and being heard than about becoming a star - which is refreshing. The Caverns are also her only link with Julian, a fellow band member and her secret crush. Due to her lack of confidence, Regina has never confessed her feelings to him, nor has she ever played her own songs to anyone. The book opens in the middle of a crisis - Lorna and Danny, the other half of The Caverns, want to quit, because they're tired of endlessly practicing without actually getting any real gig. (Well, yes, this is understandable to a point - but on the other hand, I suppose the abundance of talent shows is responsible for the fact that no one wants to work one's butt off to fame anymore...). This is when Regina makes her wish...finding herself in an overwhelming alternate reality the day after. Her fairy godmother contacts her via the internet (well, this is a revised fable after all, 2011-style!), explaining that Regina has got the chance to live like a rock star for a week (which implies leaving her small town and heading to L.A.), after which...she will have to choose - staying in her new and improved reality or going back to normal. But of course, there's trouble in Paradise too, like Regina is to discover very soon. The band is still collapsing, Julian is still off-limits (or better, he and Regina are...exes! and she is dating a teen tv star who may or may not be the right guy), Regina's problems with her mother have only taken a new path, and fame itself has its pain-in-the-ass moments. Also, the Caverns have actually replaced the Beatles in history, and Regina is not sure she can live with that. Not indefinitely, that is. At first, Regina makes a vow to herself to only live in her new reality for a week and enjoy the ride - then she's going to revert to normal. But of course, there are temptations along the way. [...]

What I especially find unbelievable - even if this is meant to be a fable - is that the Caverns have replaced the Beatles, but not in their own time frame. This causes two different sets of inconsistencies: 1) all the musicians who have been inspired by the Beatles (can we say...almost everyone?), or have someway followed their path, exist nonetheless, and of course they have produced the same music, which is an evident anomaly (Regina herself points out that the Monkees shouldn't exist without the Beatles); 2) nowadays kids all around the world are madly in love with a bunch of songs that were indeed created in the 60s, which is much more improbable than having a fairy godmother! I'm aware that not all Beatles' fans are mature or middle-aged people, but what I don't buy is that those songs, if they were to come out now, could generate a worldwide craze - especially in the young listeners. On the other hand, I suppose the book needed to be strictly contemporary, with music references such as the Black Eyed Peas, or nowadays teen would have failed to relate to it.
There is an unexpected twist when Regina meets the frontman of a band called The Instigators and is told a startling truth...again, even in a fable world, I don't buy that "a certain thing" can happen without anyone noticing or remembering...not even those directly affected by it...but well, OK. Maybe that world doesn't even exist anywhere, and it's a mere dream...Fun idea though.
Anyway, after a "supernatural" and poignant experience - that I'm not going to spoil - Regina makes up her mind about going home. She's not sure how, but her finally revealed guide (aaah, another fun twist!) gave her some clues, so she does what she thinks will work. Not until she has resolved some of her issues along the way, or promised herself she will.
Regina's final moments in La-La-Land are fun and visually entertaining; also, this is where she gains a confidence that is to stay with her in the real world she's coming back to. And in the end, when she wakes up in her old reality, there's something else she is able to grasp too...literally. 
Like I said, this is not a bad book, despite its faults. But I had no idea that it was more juvenile than my normal standards. Anyway, it's a cool idea that could have generated a less predictable and light book.

For more Multiverse books click here.
Like this book? You might also be interested in Elizabeth Eulberg: "Take a Bow".

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