Five, Six, Seven, Nate!
By Tim Federle
Summary: Encore! Nate Foster’s Broadway dreams are finally coming true in this sequel to Better Nate Than Ever that Publishers Weekly calls a “funny, tender coming-of-age story.”
Armed with a one-way ticket to New York City, small-town theater geek Nate is off to start rehearsals for E.T.: The Broadway Musical. It’s everything he ever practiced his autograph for! But as thrilling as Broadway is, rehearsals are nothing like Nate expects: full of intimidating child stars, cut-throat understudies, and a director who can’t even remember Nate’s name.
Now, as the countdown to opening night is starting to feel more like a time bomb, Nate is going to need more than his lucky rabbit’s foot if he ever wants to see his name in lights. He may even need a showbiz miracle. (From Amazon)
I’m baaack! Holy cow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a book review! I finally found the time to read again when I got a library app on my phone that allows me to read audiobooks so, hopefully this will start happening on a more regular schedule. I have a special review coming out here pretty soon for another street team I’m a part of. So far, I am loving the book and I can’t wait to share it with you! For now, though, without further ado, let’s get into Five, Six, Seven Nate!
Characters: So, for the most part, I really enjoyed all of the characters. Nate was, of course, the favorite, as I had hoped he would be. For so many reasons, I liked him, but mainly because his experience as a theater kid was, at least to my knowledge, incredibly accurate. There were so many lines that make me smile or laugh out loud. It made me remember when I was his age and fully immersed in the magic of theatre. A few of his cast mates were a bit overdone in my humble opinion, but they were all very memorable. I particularly enjoyed Nate’s closest cast friend, Estella, with whom he shares his role. (If that is misspelled please forgive me, because I listened to the audiobook I’m going by pronunciation here). She was funny and snappy and someone that I would definitely want to be friends with if I were in the cast. Jordan was another favorite, though I do think he could have stood for a tad more development earlier on in the book. Overall, though I found some of the characters, like the mean choreographer or the bumbling director a little bit cliché, I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia and familiarity they brought to the book.
The Atmosphere: As I said, I love all of the aspects and little theatre references that Federle makes in this book. It definitely added a little something extra for those nerds like me who love to geek out over everything Broadway, but none of the references took away from the story. As an author writing a book (albeit in a very different genre) that also takes place in a theatrical setting, it was nice to see how Federle incorporated the elements of putting on a show while still letting the heart of the story—the relationships between the characters and struggling to fit in a new, chaotic environment—shine through.
Writing: Believe it or not, I’m struggling with how to categorize the writing of this book. On the one hand, it is very whimsical and fun and easy to read. It also made me laugh. On the other hand, it offten make me very aware that I was reading a book. For that reason, I think I’m going to put it in two categories. Here, I’d like to complement the author for his creativity and the bouncy, imaginary quality of his style, because as a writer myself, I really enjoyed that, especially for a book set in such a high-energy industry.
Romance Subplot: I’m going to try to do this without giving it too much away, but I have to mention the romantic subplot that happened in this book. Let me be clear: there is absolutely positively nothing wrong with the romance subplot happening in the middle grade book or happening between (small spoiler) two characters of the same gender. The problem that I have is the lack of development. I understand that the romance was a subplot and not the capital P plot of the book. However, I wish there had been a little more time devoted to the characters figuring out their relationship. I felt like it was kind alluded to in the first 2/3 of the book and then everything had to be tied up really, really, really quickly in the last third. As a result it lacked some of that depth that I had hoped it would have.
DISCLAIMER: This is the second book in the series and I knew that going in. Perhaps this was explored a little more in the first book, but based on the way it was presented to the reader, I did not get that impression and thus, these were my feelings.
Narrator: So, the author decided to narrate his own boom. I’m always causiously optimistic when this happens. You get extra commentary when authors narrate their own books because they read it the way they want the reader to interpret it, which can sometimes shed new light on things. That said, I’m probably a bit picky because I’ve been reading a lot more audiobooks, however, I just didn’t have the chance to get immersed in the story. Usually audio books enhance the reading experience for me because the people who are reading the books almost act like voice actors in a way and I can really feel the story. That did not happen here , unfortunately.
Writing: Earlier, I talked about how I wasn’t sure where to put the writing in my review. This is because, as I was listening to the audiobook phrases like, “she reponied her pony tail” leaped out at me. I think this was because the words were being spoken to me rather than read and such phrases, while creative, are not reflective of natural speaking or thinking patterns. As a writer, I appreciated it, but as a reader, I just wanted to sink back into the story.
Plot Twist: Toward the end of the book, a plot point occurs that seems fairly common among “theater kid” books, and one that I am consciously trying to put a new spin on in my own work. I appreciated the reason the author took this route, but the way he tried to spin it was a bit too far-fetched for me to believe, and kind of took away from the triumph meant to ensue thereafter.
Overall: 4 stars. A solid enjoyable read. Recommended for all theater kids or theater kids at heart!
Recommendation: Act 1: Jack and Louisa by Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jack Goodrich was a Broadway star, with two shows under his belt and a third in rehearsals. But when his voice suddenly changes, Jack and his parents leave the spotlight and move far from New York City to Shaker Heights, Ohio. While Jack hopes to leave his Broadway past behind, his new neighbor refuses to let him off the hook. Louisa is a self-proclaimed “musical theater nerd” and can hardly believe when an actor moves to town. What’s more, the local theater has announced auditions for her favorite show, Into the Woods. As the audition date looms nearer, the two are faced with difficult choices. Should Jack risk humiliation and return to the stage? Will Louisa have confidence to go it alone? And can friendship survive all those complicated octave leaps? (from Amazon)
I’m always looking for new “theatre kid” books! Drop your recommendations below! As always, keep making magic, word weavers!
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