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on February 10, 2012
Amplified is Tara Kelly's sophomore novel, and the first one I've read of hers, and let me tell you: it's brilliant and wonderful and now I'm going to be her fan forever and ever. And I'm already looking for money in the couches to buy her debut novel, Harmonic Feedback!

From what I knew about Amplified, there was a girl with stage fright, but plays a killer guitar, and she's a little bit rich, and she's also kicked out. What I didn't know is said girl is just like me, and by that I mean, same attitudes. Hiiiii, rudeness...

I loved Jasmine. I loved her snarky attitude, her quick remarks, and how she wouldn't put up with Sean and Bryn. (If you've read the book, you know the scene I'm talking about with Bryn. When she defends her position. I was cheering for her the entire time! And with Sean, it's well, every time he's being a jerk and she says something back to him.)

And guys? Said boy Sean? Oh, he's so hot. So, SO hot. And I wants him. For starters, he's the bassist. And when they have a gig, he wears a fedora and a button down shirt.

!!!!!!

Now you understand why I wants him. Mwahaha. All mine. I call dibs.

There is so much more to this book than what the summary says. I mean, obviously, right? But what it doesn't tell you is all the emotions in this book. It's not as intense as VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez, but there is anxiety and I was nervous when Jasmine was. I was angry as she was at her father at times, and ahh, so many emotions.

It is a brilliant, gorgeous, wonderful book with a dash of romance and a whole lot of music and snappiness. If this book sounds like one you'd read, definitely get it. :)
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on March 1, 2013
While there is certainly a lot to like about Amplified, the book fails to offer something new, interesting, or valuable to the genre.

Despite the personal quirks that make Jasmine a successful protagonist, her personal situation is one giant cliché. Privileged daughter of a rich but distant, critical, and disapproving father decides to throw her amazing opportunities to the wolves in order to pursue a dream that seems frivolous and impossible. While there is a slight twist in the story involving Jasmine's mother, the overused plot device is not appreciated.

Jasmine's naive character and extreme self-consciousness are outweighed only by her determination to not give in to her father's expectations, essentially equating her with a petulant three year old who refuses to eat her vegetables just because someone told her to.

This affects the rest of the novel greatly, as it is difficult to feel compassion for a protagonist who is stubborn simply for the sake of being stubborn. In other words, rather than feeling she is justified for her actions, the reader is forced to view Jasmine's actions as reactions to what is expected of her by others around her.

The plot of Amplified revolves on Jasmine's ability to assimilate into the life she thought she wanted. There is a great pace to this story, with plenty of tension created between Jasmine and the other characters. On the surface, Amplified is a very successful YA contemporary novel: it is entertaining, contains a clear-cut message, and provides memorable characters.

However, where Amplified fails is in its ability to merge all of these elements together in a way that is not plagued by cliché and predictability. Because the premise for the entire novel is a cliché, the book seems to be doomed from the start.

Despite these rather large pitfalls, the book is carefully written, which prevents it from receiving a far lower rating than it does here.

A note on the setting of the novel: Amplified portrays Santa Cruz in a very balanced, but almost caricatured version of itself.

I grew up just a half hour from Santa Cruz and spent a large portion of my time there. I have ridden the unnamed rollercoaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk that frightens Jasmine to death in the beginning of the novel, the Giant Dipper, and let me tell you: that rollercoaster is just not scary. Even for a ten year old.

Yes, there are a lot of weirdos in Santa Cruz. A lot of eccentric, tattooed musician-types, surfer hippie dudes, and everything in between. But not everyone there is like that, which is what Amplified seems to portray in descriptions of the locals.

For those looking for a very entertaining and quick surface-read, Amplified is a great choice. But for readers who need less cliché and more meaning, their time will be better spent with another book.
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on August 31, 2012
Amplified was fun, but wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. Jasmine didn't really add up to me; she had a lot of quick, sarcastic responses that didn't match up with the insecurities in her head. I understand that she was trying to hide that, but there weren't even any thought processes that led her to the snarky attitude. She just sort of popped it out of nowhere. But she was realistic and tough anyway and didn't back down in the face of total humiliation. I sincerely was hoping for her to take it up a notch and slug Amy. But maybe that was just me. In any case, I wasn't able to get emotionally invested in her problems with her.

The plot was, again, fun, but superficial. It didn't really have a lot of depth in the sense that Jasmine's problems with her father were all spelled out and told, rather than shown. And the whole thing with her mother was kind of tossed in at the very end. I did like that so much was left open and unresolved at the end, however. That much was very realistic. And as a musician myself, I love the whole follow-your-dreams-to-make-it-on-stage concept. It never gets old. And Kelly handled it very well, in the sense that things can and will go wrong and you'll screw up and embarrass yourself and the next time you can play like a boss. :)

As for the side characters, I found some of them more interesting than Jasmine. I was afraid at first that Sean was going to be a total jerkwad like so many love interests in YA fiction. But he opened up and got more compassionate and was the one aspect of the book I did find my emotions reaching out to. Bryn was fascinating and I wanted to know more about why he was such a turd. Felix was a complete mystery. Veta I enjoyed but never really grew to love her. Amy was interesting in a whole different way, and although I hated her, I was very curious about her. I would definitely read another book with these same characters just to learn more about the background characters.

All in all, if you've ever dreamed of being a rock star (like me!), this is an awesome book for you.
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VINE VOICEon October 30, 2011
Positive: Jasmine. She's a great character, filled with strength and determination tempered by some very real fears and vulnerability. After playing the role of the perfect daughter and student her entire life, she finally tells her dad that she's putting off college to pursue her dream. Dad's not so supportive and kicks her to the curb. Despite this huge set-back, she forges ahead and finds ways over the obstacles in her path.

Positive: The music. You can tell this is written by someone who not only knows how to play a guitar but who also absolutely loves music. That passion oozes from the pages, infusing every word.

Positive: This story made me cry! "And that's a good thing?" you ask. Most definitely. I don't cry very often (okay, there's that one commercial with the dad who writes emails to his baby daughter but it's rare that I tear up) and, when a book touches me enough to start the waterworks, it's definitely a good thing. I really got attached to Jasmine!

Wish: A bit more depth to the secondary characters. While important to the overall plot, they felt a bit flat to me. For example, I really wanted to get to know Jasmine's bandmates, especially Bryn. I learned just enough to be intrigued but not enough to satisfy.

Overall: Resonating with the passion and pain of forging your own path, Amplified strikes just the right note.
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on December 5, 2012
I liked this book. It was more realistic than many books and it was done well. The characters worked and had me thinking about them long after I put the book down. The book gets a little technical at times with the music aspect but I never bothered me. If you are really into that technical aspect than it would be a bonus for you.
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on May 20, 2012
Amplified was a fun read, but sadly not as awesome as I'd hoped. I think I'd been a little setup for failure, though since I'm not quite as big a music fan as most of my blogger friends who gave it rave reviews. Still, it was really fun (and a little weird) reading about a main character who shared more similarities with me than just a name. Besides, you know, musical abilities :P

Jasmine was a hard-headed, stubborn girl, but I didn't really find it too annoying for the most part. She knew what she wanted and she was willing to do the hard work to get it. Sometimes I just wanted to shout at the girl to ask for/accept a little help, but I completely understand why she was the way she was. I mean, with a father as crappy as hers, I'm sure I'd have learned to do things on my own too.

I really liked the band and how the characters who made it up were really well-rounded. They didn't really feel like side characters at all, in fact. If any of them were missing I kind of feel like the book wouldn't have been the same at all. That's not to say I liked them all. I kind of hated Bryn, actually. He was a big fat jerkwad and I frequently felt like punching him in the face. Veta was spunky and crazy and just plain awesome. She was definitely one of my favorite characters :] Felix was...well, Felix was strange to me. I don't have a problem with dudes wearing tutus and pigtails, but I just wanted to know why. I'd actually love to read a companion starring him.

Then we have Sean and his and Jasmine's relationship. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Sean. He was sexy and snarky, sure, but he was also really hung up on that stupid Amy girl. I get it, I really do, but I wish he could have gotten over her and just went for Jasmine wholeheartedly. If you're looking for a fresh relationship formula, then you'll definitely find it in Jasmine and Sean.

The Nutshell: Though Amplified wasn't a complete win for me, it wasn't really a loss either. I think most of my disappointment could be attributed to high expectations. If you're a music lover or like books with music then you'll probably have a much bigger appreciation for Amplified than I did. If you're looking for something beyond your typical boy-meets-girl-and-smoochy-smoochy-ensues then you should definitely check this one out. If you love bold, strong characters then give Amplified a try :D
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on May 10, 2015
Books that revolve around music are one of my book weaknesses. I think it comes from my secret wish that I could play an instrument myself. But alas, I never stuck with anything. Anyway, this book was a very quick read about a girl who was kicked out because she didn’t want to follow her father’s plans. Out on her own for the first time, she needs to find a place to live as well as a band to play with. But everything doesn’t exactly work out as planned.

I liked Jasmine for the most part. She isn’t perfect, but that’s ok. I wouldn’t like her if she was. Jasmine is finally allowed to go out and do the things she’s always wanted and sometimes doesn’t make the best decisions on her way to realizing her dreams and happiness. A lot of the female main characters in rock bands in the books I’ve read before are generally sure of themselves and fit that rocker stereotype. Jasmine doesn’t. She does grow throughout the book and is able to come into her own as a strong woman.

I also like that the book didn’t have a completely happy ending all tied up with a bow. Sure it ended happily for the most part, but Jasmine still had problems like everyone does. I definitely want to read the next book to see how some of her unsolved issues play out and the future of the band. Plus I want to see what else happens with Jasmine and Sean.

The problem I had was that I’d zone out sometimes during the parts about playing music. It was very detailed and I had no idea what was being described. It made it harder for me to try to imagine the music that was being played. It would have been nicer to have the music being described in a way an outsider to understand.
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on December 29, 2011
3.5/5
This was also not really what I was expecting. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, though. There was just more to the story than I was thinking there would be.
It's about Jasmine Kiss, who's just been kicked out by her father because she refuses to go to college before pursuing music. So she moves to Santa Cruz, where her car breaks down, and she joins a band who want to perform, only she has stage fright. And she moves in with the majority of the band, which are all male.
Jasmine was alright. She isn't the brightest, and she really needs to grow up some more. She does some lying and some other things that aren't the smartest, but she does some growing up, and she doesn't give in, even if it's tempting. And she wasn't immature, or stupid, but she needed more experience. She wasn't ready to be out on her own yet, and by the end, I still didn't really feel that she was ready. Also, she says things without thinking about them, a lot.
I did like the band. Or, most of the band. Felix is big and girly but still straight. Veta, the singer, is gay and kind of psychic and pretty awesome. Bryn is quite a jerk, but he warms up to Jasmine some by the end of the book. Sean can be mean and still fun, and I liked him with Jasmine. They fool around some, which was nice, and even though the ending left things open for them, it still promised things were going to happen, and for some reason, I still liked it.
Also, I liked Veta and Sean's family. Their sister was cute, and their mom was sweet. I feel like the fact that Jasmine didn't have a great family life but that she has friend with good ones could have been expanded upon, though.
Their competition, were jerks. Teddy seemed like he could have been alright, while Amy was a total biotch. I did not like her, at all, didn't see what Sean did, and would have enjoyed it if Jasmine and her got into a fight. It should have happened. Dave was also a jerk. And Luna's Temptation seemed alright. Nile was a jerk, and Zia was really odd, but in a good way.
I didn't particularly like her dad. He was a bit of a jerk, and I don't feel that things were completely solved between them by the end. They just don't communicate very well, and I don't see a lot of things getting better for them, but it is on the path to getting better, so who knows. He did push her to do things on her own, though, which was good.
Her best friend, Jason, was adorable. We only saw him a couple of times, which was disappointing, because I really liked him and it would have been nice if we got to actually see him interact with her instead of only over the phone. And to meet his boyfriend.
Oh, if you didn't notice, this book was very friendly to gay people. (As there are two, one boy and one girl. Plus a girly boy that's still straight.) And it's pointed out casually, like, that's cool, whatever. I thought this was awesome.
And, as I mentioned above, there was more to the story than I'd expected. She does something stupid pretty early in the book and then it came back to her around halfway through, and after that, she really did have to prove her worth to the band. This, while I'm unsure if it was a good thing, because it was terrible how bad she messed up (cringe-worthy, that's how bad it was), it did help her grow up some. She worked harder after that to stay.
So, while Jasmine made me cringe with some of the things she did, and while it ended kind of openly, I still really enjoyed the book.
Oh, one thing that really bothered me. Jasmine is kind of going poor, as she only has so much money saved up and spends most of it on where she's staying, and then has to pay for her car, which is a lot. And her dad refuses to pay for anything (which is jerky, but understandable). So how does she have a cell phone throughout the whole book? There's never any mention of her paying for it herself, and I don't see why her dad would be paying for it for her. It's never mentioned how it's paid for, and this bothered me, because she has it from the day she leaves her dads place to the end of the book. So she would have been paying for it on her own before she abruptly moved out or her dad was paying it while she lived somewhere else, but wouldn't pay for anything else? I don't understand.
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on November 7, 2014
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Valerie

Not many YA books focus on music. And out of the books that do, not many are good. Amplified is an exception. Not only did Amplified intrigue me, but it also made me laugh, cry, scream like a fangirl, and yearn for the sequel. Considering this is a book reviewer who rarely makes it through a full book without wanting to tear her hair out, it’s quite an accomplishment. Here’s to Amplified!

Jasmine is quite a character. She’s been accepted into Stanford. Unhappy, she decides to pursue her dream of playing guitar. Jasmine has a great sense of humor and a lot of determination. I loved her drive and courage. Throughout Amplified, she truly develops as a character. Overcoming her shyness and inability to play onstage, she becomes a true guitarist. Jasmine, I kind of wish I were you.

Let’s move onto the guy now. Sean, can I marry you? Sean is your typical brooding guy in YA. He’s broken and unhappy because he recently broke up with his girlfriend. He feels betrayed by the world and is taking it out on Jasmine. However, he’s cute, smart, and charming when he wants to be. How much better can you get than that?

Tara Kelly, I commend you for not resorting to insta-love. Insta-love has got to be my biggest pet peeve. Instead, Jasmine and Sean gradually progress as a possible couple. They slowly and plausibly overcome their mutual dislike of each other. Then they build up naturally! Keyword naturally. I love loves that are at least half believable.

Amplified is truly hilarious. The fact that it’s extremely far-fetched adds to the humor. Tara Kelly is a naturally humorous person. When you give that humor to Jasmine, you get a funny, interesting book that tells you a lot about the music world and jams. Half this book left me laughing, and the other book left me in pain. Pain because I was laughing too much.

The characters in this book are all fresh. I truly enjoyed reading Amplified!
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on April 1, 2015
3.5 stars

It was a fun, fluffy read for me. There were quite a few technical stuff related to music/instruments in the book that I didn't understand which made the flow of the book difficult for me.

The characters themselves were ok. I could relate with Jasmine to some extent regarding her self esteem and living with an oppressive parent. Sean, was a bit douchy to Jasmine in the beginning and well, he does get better as the book progresses. He even helps her out with her stage fright which was quite sweet. I loved Veta's character. She was a good sister to Sean and a good friend to Jasmine. I just didn't care a whole lot for Sean/Jasmine for the most part. I had mixed feelings about how the book ended too. Overall, this was a meh read for me. Nothing stood out per se here
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