on December 23, 2009
Armed with wry and delicious cynicism, a deep and bottomless emotional sensitivity and more musical smarts than a multi-degreed musicologist, Allie--Yvonne Prinz's record store-working main character of her new book The Vinyl Princess--is the coolest narrator of any book in recent memory. Gainfully employed at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley, the street smart sixteen-year-old lives to hover a needle over the rotating black body of a well-chosen piece of vinyl and lower it into the groove. She's an L.P. purist, a throwback, a vinyl-only girl walking lonely through a digital age. In a time where music is flashed back and forth from email to iPod to hard drive, Allie reminds us of the days when the listener was involved with the physicality of music; the days of making a mix in real time or tilting a piece of vinyl up to the light, holding your breath and hoping not to find a scratch.
Although Allie's records are in fine, well-kept shape, the real scratches in her life come from other areas. She lives with her divorced mother, who studies Russian poetry and dabbles in disastrous computer dating; her realtor dad is remarried to a snooty new wife with a seemingly limitless trust fund and her best friend Kit is beset by boyfriend-in-a-band problems. To make matters worse, Allie's mom rents a room to a mysterious exchange student who seems to be in secret league with their cat; the object of her affection may or may not be as shady as he seems and her love of music aside, Allie knows retail is retail and work is work and the two may very well be cramping her style. "Don't get me wrong," she says, "I'm well aware that most girls my age wouldn't be relishing the idea of spending the summer in a musty record store. Certainly this isn't the most happening environment for a girl in the prime of her adolescence."
Whether it's the colorful cast of record store employees, the resident Telegraph Avenue oddballs who parade around in old wedding dresses, or the quivering clientele who approach the record store intelligentsia trembling and witless, Prinz knows how to populate a book. Even the folks who don't say much speak volumes. For example, the macabre backroom-processing Aidan, Allie tells us: "...takes misanthropy to a whole new level...He's tall and whisper thin with a sort of bloodless look to him. He disappears into his environment like a chameleon. It seems that his only desire in life is not to be noticed."
Assuming the identity of The Vinyl Princess, Allie begins to blog about vintage vinyl and as the book progresses, so does her fanbase. As she blogs away about everyone from David Bowie to Randy Newman, the vinyl junkies of the world begin to marshal together and suddenly Allie has a viable audience. She also has an audience of potential boyfriends. One follows her around with homemade mixes and arcane minutia about bands, while the other looks like he's in a band although he never really talks about music very much at all.
When a string of robberies on the avenue start to make their way closer and closer to where Allie works, eats and hangs out with Kit, Telegraph begins to take on a more sinister look. Prinz deftly darkens the streets with the finesse of a skilled painter and each new burgled business marks a wrinkle of fresh understanding for Allie. It is, in effect, the slow loss of innocence and it's done with elegant and expert precision. Never has a coming of age novel used its surroundings so effectively to illustrate the unexpected ways we end up getting older.
Far more sinister than the robberies is what is becoming of the independent record store and the beleaguered Bob, whose business hangs on the precipice of breaking even and oblivion. "In the old days," Allie tells us, "when dinosaurs roamed the earth, students actually shopped at Bob & Bob's for their music, but that was before downloading became de rigueur, effectively killing independent record stores." Prinz's book is the first to address the ever-shrinking roster of record stores and while Bob & Bob's potential demise hangs in the background of the novel, by the end it moves front and center and never has this issue seemed more pressing.
"God only knows what I would be doing now had it not been for the records that l have discovered and loved as a result of buying records and being turned on to new music from independent record stores," says former Ride singer Mark Gardener. He continues: "If we lose the independents then we lose a total culture of people who are aware that all the interesting bands and music start at this place and are fed by music lovers directly on a personal level rather than a sea of corporate mediocrity."
And if we lose indie record stores we'd never get a chance to meet people like Allie. And that would be a shame.
The Vinyl Princess is perfect. Main character Allie lives her life loving music, her job selling vinyl and her friends and family, basically she's awesome and I want to be her friend. The book was realistic but in the way that everyone in the book was cooler than me and I only wish I was that awesome. From Allie's extensive knowledge of music to her best friend Kit's fashion know-how I bow down to these people and am extremely jealous of them.
While the characters were great the overall atmosphere of the book was rocking as well, it gave off a bit of an Empire Records vibe for me, independent record store with a bunch of musicheads and freaks running around humor etc. There was also a bit of a mystery (that I solved just before Allie) involving a string of robberies in town and a bit of romance. Basically The Vinyl Princess is a very well rounded story with music holding the whole thing together.
Another awesome thing about the book I really appreciated was that the Vinyl Princess zine is real, I actually have a copy and I believe the blog is real as well! I love when an author takes the time to make the book come to life and doesn't just use something for the book but takes the time to make it real for the readers. That gets a major thumbs up from me.
Overall a great young adult book for teens and music lovers alike!
on January 20, 2010
Name one sixteen year old in real life that doesn't own an ipod, zune, or any device that can download music? Allie is just crazy, unique and awesome that she live in this modern digital age. Record store business calls her a throwback, audiophile or a record geek. She is a girl who collects LP is practically a walking music encyclopedia and just the unique type of character that I am looking for. Did I say that I think she is awesome? She lives in Berkley with her mom, a housemate named Suki who she refer to as the ghost, since they rarely see her and a cat named Pierre that acts that he's too cool for them. Allie is Happily employed in a independent music store in Telegraph Avenue named Bob & Bob's (Amoeba music in real life?) who mainly sells collectible vinyls. Talk about feeding the addiction right? She's perfect for that place. It was written that she own 900 LPs and can recite all the Beatles songs by album, in grade school she does not know the national anthem nor the Pledge of Allegiance but can chronologically name the Rolling Stones album, she can talk about everything and anything about music for 14 hours straight, and she shares her passion by writing about it on her blog, thus the title of our book, The Vinyl Princess.
Other than that, Allie is like every other teenager. She struggles to keep up with th real world. Her parents are divorce. Her mom is on the dating pool and her dad lives with a person named Kee Kee who listens to Dave Matthews Band and she is soon to have a half-sibling. There was no hate in all this. She and her parents are cool with the situation that they are in. Which is part of the book that I like a lot. This particular summer seems to be the most memorable one for Allie. There were two boys, a series of robberies in the area of her work, her best friend Kit got boy issues and her self esteem is flactuating to a level that she's talking about nip tucking, her mother is on a current haunt for companionship, and later she was faced to make tough decisions and was forced to step out of her comfort zone.
I was scared to read this, afraid that I wouldn't like it. Since it is a YA I was holding my breath because maybe, just maybe the word Vinyl on the cover was just a front and that maybe when I actually get down on reading it I'd read referemces of Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, etc... and I would completely flip out. Not that there's anything wrong with them but their music is just not my type. So no offense to those who love them. I was also blown away by the cover and because Yvonne Prinz wrote it, she is possibly the coolest chick in the world because of the whole Amoeba music, I love that place, I can live there, my second choice after the bookstore. Lol. So I was relieved when I saw mentions of Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Billy Bragg, John Doe, Avette Brothers, Johnny Cash, Crowded House, The Kinks, Iggy Pop, etc... I love the book, the word indie and hip is written all over it. I actually forced myself to read it slowly. It's hip, armed with wonderful prose, funny, and highly recommended for music junkie.
on January 14, 2010
Gold Star Award Winner!
How does a self-proclaimed music geek with encyclopedic knowledge of vinyl's history survive in an MP3 obsessed, Billboard Top 40 world? If you're sixteen-year-old Allie, you spend every free moment "practically running" Bob & Bob's Records, comb the flea markets of Berkeley for classic LPs, while composing articles for your blog and zine.
Not that any of this means Allie's without a life - thank you very much. She spends plenty of time patronizing the bohemian eateries and coffeehouses populating downtown San Francisco, hanging with best friend and vintage fashion maven Kit, and keeping an eye on her scatterbrained mother as she reenters the dating scene.
Should Allie let her mother's personality-transplant-for-a-boyfriend, or twenty-something stepmother Kee-Kee's pregnancy, send her into a tailspin? Of course not!
Who cares if Bob & Bob's owner keeps threatening to sell the store? He's been saying that for years.
And why worry too much about a series of robberies plaguing businesses along Telegraph Avenue? With regulars like Allie keeping their eyes peeled for anyone suspicious, the police will catch the thieves sooner or later.
So what if Allie hasn't found a boyfriend of her own? Sure, she's got her eye on the mystery hottie "M" who's recently become a customer, but it's not like she expects to stumble across her musical soul mate at work...right?
I *LOVED* this book with a blinding passion! Everything from Allie herself, to her eccentric family and kooky coworkers, the descriptions of food, the plethora of music history and the way Yvonne Prinz infuses the city of San Francisco with so much life and vivacity, it becomes a character in and of itself. Even though I'm an iPod devotee, I got a kick out of Allie's references to MP3s and downloading as "the end of civilization as we know it."
THE VINYL PRINCESS is hip, blunt, quirky, and just plain fabulous - if books were people, I'd marry this one. Seriously guys, this is one you shouldn't miss.
Reviewed by: Cat
on February 17, 2011
I have trouble finding the words to describe my experience of reading THE VINYL PRINCESS. It is an understated novel that makes its impact not with an incredible premise or fast-paced action, but with the quirky nuances that often pass by unnoticed in our everyday lives, and I love it so much for doing that.
Allie is one of the last of a dying breed of true vinyl and music appreciators. She works blissfully at Bob and Bob Records, a haven for music enthusiasts in Berkeley, California. Allie would be happy just to live as she is, surrounded by vinyl, forever, but she wonders if there are more people like her out there, such as that cute guy who has spent so much time in the store lately.
Allie starts to reach out to vinyl lovers everywhere by starting a blog, but she begins to learn that she can reach out just within her own neighborhood as well...
Allie is--and at the same time isn't--your average teenage girl. She holds herself above the usual petty melodramas of her peers, which makes her refreshing to read about, as well as gives her a potential crossover appeal. She has a sort of wry narration and a deep confidence in her music knowledge and taste, which at times made me a bit uncomfortable. I couldn't help but imagine that the bookish equivalent of Allie would probably disdain me for reading *sniff* a young adult novel. Ah well. Too bad I still can't help but be interested in people like her, who seem to be so sure of themselves and their passions.
The jacket synopsis doesn't give credit to what goes on in this book. In fact, Allie's blog is only a small thing of interest that happens to her in the course of the summer. THE VINYL PRINCESS deals elegantly with family tensions, best friend troubles, economic woes, and the adorable uncertainty of unexpected, budding romance. Even in moments when the plot seems to stumble in terms of believability, nothing really feels disbelievingly dramatic, and Allie and the supporting characters never lost my sympathies.
THE VINYL PRINCESS is a strong contemporary YA novel that will appeal to readers who like voice-driven fiction, featuring a main protagonist who seems older than her years. In fact, I'm kind of surprised that this wasn't published as an adult novel, for in many ways its contemplation of society and humanity will be more appreciated by an older audience. It has definitely put Yvonne Prinz on my list of YA authors to watch out for, and I look forward to what she does with other characters in different situations in the future.
on June 28, 2010
I know it's only about mid-year, but the Vinyl Princess is, hands-down, the best book I've read in 2010. I love everything about it: the characters, the setting, the countless musical references, and most importantly, the subject of vinyl and vinyl culture, and how it needs to be preserved. If we don't, we won't meet people like Allie, our protagonist, who knows everything you could ever want to know about music, looks like, according to her, "the child of Sid Vicious," and considers her thousands of LP's a modest collection- can we really afford to lose awesome people like this?
My favorite thing about this book was the characters. Heavy readers of YA chick-lit will recognize the character archetypes: the sharp, witty protagonist, the lovable (if, at times, ditzy) best friend, the guy who isn't what he seems, and the guy who has been there all along. But they aren't flat stereotypes- Prinz's characters are all painted wonderfully, with their own unique and engaging personalities. And side characters aren't cast aside and treated as plot devices, either, with each one carefully crafted- even the ones that don't do or say much speak volumes about Allie and her world.
I also loved the setting of Prinz's novel, Telegraph Avenue. Full of more hippies, "bridge-and-tunnel shoppers", and other unconventional populace than you've ever laid eyes on, Telegraph Avenue is a great reflection of the book overall: quirky, funny, and full of surprises.
But my very favorite thing about this book is the way music plays such a big part in it. Good music, too: Just flipping through this book, there's references to everyone from Bob Dylan to the Avett Brothers to the Beatles and Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen and the Velvet Underground and... *takes a breath* Well, you get the point. Allie basically has the best taste in music ever. If you're an "audiophile", too, you might see references that remind you of an old favorite, and if you're don't know much about music, this book is practically a field guide to records.
Overall, in The Vinyl Princess, we find a funny, true voice that needs to be heard, one speaking out for indie record store culture and for the preservation of vinyl in general. Not only that, but it teaches our generation, living in the age of digital downloading, to love vinyl again. There book shows the beauty of the physical involvement in putting on a record, examining it breathlessly for scratches, and enjoying it like the girl on the cover: the waves of nostalgia, the familiarity of the crackling on a well-worn record. And there's something for everyone in this book: romance, music, fashion, drama, and a little bit of crime mystery, too. Read this book in your attic on an old bean bag chair with a stack of carefully selected records, and enjoy.
on April 23, 2011
I'm not quite sure what I went into this book expecting. What I got was a light read packed full of great music references. I wouldn't go as far as to say I was schooled by Prinz, but I was definitely happy to be reminded of some favorite songs and albums. I actually made a list of all the songs noted in this book that I needed to listen to.
I don't know about you but for me the general lack of quirky, weird characters in the YA genre is starting to get to me. Don't get me wrong I love paranormal but when did 'perfect looking people' become the norm? Let's face it teenagers are not perfect, we're quirky and different and we have our own set of problems that do fine on their own without being glamorized. We have our chosen obsessions, our battles with peer-pressure and self-destructive tendencies, family issues, school drama, etc. etc.
This is one of those books who's character I loved because they were described as quirky and real instead of flawlessly beautiful.
Allie is in some ways the average teenage girl, and in many ways is not. Her chosen obsession is vinyl and her serious love for music is very real and very relattable for me. I thought Allie was a bit odd at times but it just made me like her all the more. Her normal teenage self showed through on more than one occasion when she chased after the 'pretty-boy' instead of the nice guy standing right in front of her. She had her family problems with her mom trying to find 'the-one' online dating and her dad marrying a 20 something spoiled brat. Her music is her constant. I think for a lot of people (not just the musically obsessed) music is an escape, something that's always there and understanding.
Kit is Allie's best friend. She works in a vintage clothing store and always wears amazing outfits. She's insecure about her breast size and dates boys like crazy. In the book she's having problems getting over her x-musician boyfriend who cheated on her. She's a great friend to Allie and I really loved reading the parts when they were together.
I thought Ravi's relationship with Allie's mom was almost comical but really cute. I didn't get into Ravi's mind much at all while reading but the way he's described is great.
The whole blogging aspect seemed a bit more like an afterthought to me. I think the story was driven more by Allie's family issues and Bob&Bob's issues than it was by her starting a blog. I do think the blog had a significant role in the story...just not as big a role as the teaser would lead you to believe.
Allie's family and boy problems make this book an interesting voice-driven read. The plot was a bit predictable but I didn't mind so much because I genuinely loved the characters.
This is one of those books that got a lot of negative and positive feedback so you might be cautious about reading it because your not sure where your opinion will fall. But I think you should give it a chance. Sure the story is a little light but it's fun. In my opinion there was nothing cutsie about this book. For me The Vinyl Princess was understated but memorable.
It's summer and instead of hanging out with her friends or doing any of the other things vapid, boring teenagers do, Allie is working full time at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley, California. She's an audiophile and absolutely loves vinyl records, accepting no substitutes. Armed with a sardonic wit and an encyclopedic knowledge of eclectic music, she deals with the clientele of Bob and Bob's, including eccentric bums, teenyboppers hungry for the next pop hit for their iPods, and the rare kindred spirit lover of LP's. At home, her life is interesting to say the least. She lives with her flighty mother, her cat, and a ghostly Asian girl who rents a room. To try to connect with a greater community of LP lovers online, she adopts the persona The Vinyl Princess and creates a blog and zine. As her music blog grows in popularity, her real life is close to coming crashing down. Bob, the owner of the record store where she works, is getting closer and closer to selling the store. Her mother is pretending to be someone she's not to please her new boyfriend and Allie suspects something is wrong with the guy she met at her work and totally clicked with. Plus there have been a rash of robberies in the neighborhood. Can Allie get her real life on track while her online blog flourishes?
I really enjoyed this novel. Allie is like no other protagonist I have ever read in general, not just in young adult literature. She knows a ridiculous amount about music most people her age AND my age don't even know exists. In the age of file sharing, BitTorrent, and iTunes, her point of view is considered obsolete and old fashioned. Music is treated as a luxury in the educational system and not a necessity, despite the way music pervades our everyday lives. iPods are seen more as objects of status than as music players and the sound quality of the music coming out of them is mediocre at best. LP's are the surprisingly provide the best sound quality for music, especially the classical genre. Allie's point of view is so refreshing to me as both a fellow music and vinyl lover. I have a small collection of LP's that are mostly classical music.
I am fascinated and impressed by Allie's eclectic music knowledge. I'm not familiar with everything she talked about in the novel, but there were quite a few of them that I recognized and enjoyed myself. The genre that she talked about that resonated with me the most was the film soundtrack. Movie soundtracks take up a huge amount of space in my music collection. This is definitely a book that I feel at home reading.
The only part of The Vinyl Princess that I feel is superfluous is actually the main conflict. I would have been happy just reading passages out of Allie's life with her music, her friends, and her family.
The Vinyl Princess is a wonderful coming of age tale encased in music. It's a must read for music lovers everywhere.
on July 20, 2010
I have to admit that I had tried to read The Vinyl Princess several times before giving up because of the lackluster beginning, but recently I pushed myself through it, and as it turns out it just gets better and better from that point. A great discovery, no?
The Vinyl Princess tells the story of Allie, a girl who considers herself to be the official Vinyl Princess. It's summertime and Allie's looking forward to a relaxing summer filled with music, hanging out with her best friend, thinking of her crush, and working at her Bob and Bob Records, her favorite music store. Though, as it turns out not everything is working out in her way. Bob and Bob Records is doing badly this year, there has been a string of robberies around the area which has left her worried, her mom has started dating again, her best friend is going through a bad breakup, and Allie just meet a really annoying guy at the record store. Leaving her to wonder will things get better?
Allie's just your ordinary teen girl. She has her problems, her interests, and her quirks, which made her even more relatable in my opinion. I especially loved the fact that she was a fellow blogger, though for music instead of books. Her friends, as well as her regular consumers at the Bob and Bob records, were funny as well as quirky and unique.
While the plot of this tended to always be a bit predictable, it still was musical goodness that I truly enjoyed. I loved seeing how Allie found out who she really was in this novel and how a record store runs. Plus, Yvonne's writing proved to move smoothly and quickly, though I do admit there were some slow parts to it.
In all, The Vinyl Princess is a coming of age tale I really enjoyed, one that I highly suggest to all you music lovers out there. In addition, Yvonne Prinz is defiantly an author I will continue to read more by.
on January 19, 2010
To say that Allie knows a lot about music is a severe understatement. When she was little her father (an aging Rocker) would say the name of a Beatles song and Allie could tell you the name of the album the song was on...and this is just a small tidbit of musical knowledge!
Keeping that in mind Allie has the perfect job at Bob and Bob's music store, but there is only one thing missing...romance. With her mother newly dating after her dad splits and her best friend Kit totally gaga over her rocker boyfriend Niles, Allie is feeling a bit left out. Is the mysterious boy she sees visiting Bob and Bob's and the surrounding neighborhood destined to be her soul-mate???
To me a huge part of the story is the setting in which the story is told...Telegraph Avenue in Berkley, California. The eclectic and bohemian aura of the area is practically a character itself, its moods changing throughout the seasons. The authors vivid description of the area made me want to pack up move there :o)
There are so many parts to this story to love. Allie, her mom, her grandma (but don't call her grandma, its Estelle or Ms. Horowitz... these are your only options) and Kit. All awesome, strong female characters who struggle with life, love, gender expectations and what it means to live "outside the box". I knew I'd miss them when I finished the book.
There are so many musical references in this book that I discovered a whole new treasury of songs. I kept looking up the various songs that Allie references through out the book and I would listen to them on the internet (please Allie, don't hate me for downloading). Now I'm not so sure that I'm going to start a vinyl collection but I definitely discovered some very cool music.
A well written, wonderful story that you will love!
Mild use of profanity make this book appropriate for 8th grade and up.