Hello fellow bookworms 🎼 I was fortunate enough to receive a digital copy of The Brightsiders through participating in the xpresso book tour! I cannot even express how excited I was to read this book, because Queens of Geek by the same author was one of my favorite books last year. Just as I had hoped I ADORED The Brightsiders and now I’m coming to you with a few information about the book (what it’s about and more importantly where you can get it, because you totally should) and my Review expressing why this is a book everyone should read! If you click on the image down below you are redirected to the blog tour schedule, so you can check out all the other amazing posts!
CW’s: Emotional Abuse (+ Gaslighting), Underage drinking
A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel.
As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.
Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.
Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?
Get the Book Here!
About the Author
Jen Wilde is a writer, geek and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies (AS THEY RISE), witches (ECHO OF THE WITCH) and fangirls (QUEENS OF GEEK). Her debut series reached over three million reads online and became an Amazon bestseller. Her next book, THE BRIGHTSIDERS, comes out May 2018, and GOING OFF-SCRIPT releases Summer 2019.
When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to far away places and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay.
Why You Should read The Brightsiders
Like I said I adored Jen Wilde’s first book Queens of Geek (another must read if you love fandom!), so I was incredibly excited to get my hands on the Brightsiders and see if I would end up loving it as well. Gladly The Brightsiders was a book that really drew me in and was totally different from my experience with Queens of Geek. Both books are different from each other (so you cannot compare my love for them), but they also have fundamental similarities: fandom culture, amazing friendships, the best romances and absolutely great representation! Now on with my list meant to convince you to buy this book right now!
Emmy ❤️ Emmy’s our protagonist and oh did I want to protect her. She’s currently having a very rough time due to the pressures of fame and her alcohol addiction. Things start turning difficult when she is branded ‘Hollywood’s latest train wreck’ and desperately tries to restore her reputation and try to fix what she has done so she can continue to be in the band. I really felt for her, because Emmy has had a really rough time lately and is barely recovering, not only from losing herself to partying and drinking too much alcohol but also the entire downsides that come with being famous and always being in the spotlight. She’s also trying so hard to please everyone, which I related to a lot. Emmy is literally too good for this world, she loves people deeply and adores her friends. The problem is that people like to use her because of that. Emmy is caught up in several abusive relationships, with her parents and her girlfriend and her journey is about cutting those ties as well as finding herself and coping with her past mistakes.
Alfie 🧡 How do I even describe Alfie? He’s just as caring as Ryan when it comes to Emmy and has been her friend for ages. Whenever she needed something he was here and alongside with Ryan they made it big with their band. However, Alfie is also struggling with that, he has anxiety attacks before the shows and has been trying to cope with them, something he initially kept a secret. Nevertheless, he goes out there and plays for their fans, as they mean everything to him. He’s also a generally humorous and easy to talk to person – like with the rest of the cast of characters you cannot help but love Alfie! He’s also genderqueer and proud to support the community – Alfie is very dedicated to his fan base and his band. Plus in the end he does something so sickly sweet and romantic … how can you not like him???
Ryan 💛 He’s the third band mate and like Alfie an absolute sweetheart. Even though the story focuses on Emmy and Alfie a lot, Ryan is a great character and very supportive of his friends. He loved the band, he loves his friend and he’s generally just a very good, decent guy. You cannot help but immediately love how concerned he is for Emmy and how he – much like Alfie – wants to protect her from the toxic environment at her parent’s house. We’re also getting to see Ryan coming to terms with his sexuality when he meets someone new and get an insight in his background story, as he’s a first generation Korean-American guy. There’s not much more to say other than that Ryan is a huge cinnamon roll.
Chloe 💚 Chloe is absolutely amazing, they slaaay so much!! I cannot even express how much I enjoyed seeing their relationship with Emmy, honestly I would love to have a friend like Chloe anytime. They are a black nonbinary femme vlogger and Emmy’s best friend who always supports her. I appreciated Chloe so much, because they are concerned for Emmy’s well-being and help her realize that she is in more than one abusive relationship. Chloe themselves is an abuse survivor, as their mother never accepted them and constantly emotionally abused them. Therefore, Chloe is hellbent on helping their friend and super tough – you don’t want to get on their bad side.
There are QUEENS OF GEEK CAMEOS 💙 Look if you don’t know I adored Jen Wilde’s first book and I had NO idea that the characters would make an appearance in The Brightsiders, so you can imagine how shocked (and happy) I was when they appeared! We see a lot more of Alyssa and Charlie in the book though (they are sooo adorable omg!), as they are friends with Emmy and her crew, which makes a lot of sense! But we also see Taylor and Jamie shortly – this filled my heart with joy, because I love them so much and I’m happy that all my favorites from Queens of Geek are doing well!
Emmy & Alfie 💜 I normally don’t like the Childhood Friends to Lovers Trope, because it never works for me and tends to be used in Love Triangles a lot, BUT Emmy and Alfie totally rocked that Trope! I adored their friendship and loved to see how it turned into love. Now their relationship is far from easy. Emmy has had a rough time and is recovering, but she also begins to care for Alfie differently than she has before. He is her best friend and has always been there for her through it all. He is her sanctuary, but now she feels herself very attracted to him romantically. Alfie himself seems interested and when they both go on a vacation things start to get steamy between them. There are lots of kisses and mutual pinning. Emmy and Alfie love teasing each other and explore their feelings in secrets. That’s where the main problem arises: they think this is all ‘just fun’ and will end when they get back to their normal lives. It’s supposed to be friends with benefits, but then Emmy starts ending up feeling so much more for Alfie. Being in love with him could destroy their friendships + the band, so it gets complicated really quickly, specially as she does not know about Alfie’s feelings. Spoiler alert: there is a happy ending!
The band members ❤️ Of course Emmy, Alfie and Ryan have a very close relationship as well, as they started out making music and now have made it big. They always look out for each other and have become a big found family (including Chloe and Emmy’s cousin). I loved how The Brightsiders showed friendships and found family, it was heartwarming to see how much the three cared about each other, they held onto one another and always had each other’s back. It’s the kind of relationship everyone aspires to have – their connection as a band is strong and sincere. Of course their friendship is also put to a test when Emmy and Alfie develop feelings for each other and things become all kinds of complicated!
Fandom & Music 💛 Of course this book is full of nerds and fan culture which I absolutely love! I can always relate well to characters that are nerds and fans like myself, it just makes a contemporary so much more fun to read, even though I might not get all the references! However, the focus here is definitely on music and bands unlike in Queens of Geek where we focused more on conventions. I did like seeing something different, even though I have never been really into going to concerts like everyone else. It was great to see The Brightsiders’ fans though, because they meant a lot to Emmy and her band. She loves performing and the fact that the band is made up by entirely queer members means that they are in touch a lot with the LGBTQ community and have a lot of fans who look up to them. To some fans they are idols, what they say and do has a huge impact on them.
The pressure of fame & alcoholism 💚 I already mentioned this when talking about Emmy, as The Brightsiders deals a lot with the downsides of fame and alcoholism. I loved that this was discussed, as I have not seen this often in YA. I personally don’t drink at all, so I couldn’t 100% relate to Emmy’s struggles, but I LOVED that she later called out two guys trying to pressure her into drinking and calling her a ‘bore’ when she didn’t want to. I was all here for that! I also liked seeing the impacts on fame on the band, because they are teenagers after all and a lot of pressure can have devastating effects. Emmy struggled a lot with not sliding down the endless pattern of party and alcohol, especially as her parents have a history with drinking. She does not want to become like them and decides to cut it short. There are ups and downs with that, so that’s another thing that was totally realistic! Apart from alcoholism, we see Emmy struggle with the media, who hounds her, speculates and is digging around in her private life: she is in the spotlight so nothing stays hidden for long.
A lot of great representation 💙 Like I mentioned when I talked about the characters, we have a super diverse cast of characters that really talks about the prejudices and discrimination they still face. Emmy talks a lot about biphobia and shuts it down e.g. how people objectify her, try to brand her a ‘bad bisexual’ and – since she is in the public a lot – like to accuse her of “trying to be trendy”. It was fantastic to also see nonbinary characters that play a big role and a lot of intersectionality as well – e.g. Chloe is nonbinary femme, black and likes girls. We also see Ryan questioning is sexuality when he starts having feelings for a boy and I LOVE how supportive Emmy is. She tells him that it’s completely okay to take his time and figure out what label fits him the best. Overall there is a lot of representation and I’m so happy about that! The representation for anxiety and bisexuality is ownvoices, but I cannot speak on how accurate anything else is.
Abusive Relationships 💔 I had no idea that this was going to be a theme going in and it took me by surprise. I liked that Jen Wilde explored this topic as it’s very important to talk about. Emmy is surrounded by a lot of toxic people who emotionally abuse and gaslight her, which is heartbreaking to see. She’s manipulated by them and being very kind and loyal Emmy has a hard time cutting off those people and getting out of the circle of abuse. Her parents have never really cared for her and always guilt and shame her for everything she does. Emmy tries so hard to please them, hoping she will be enough, hoping they will change, but they don’t. Her parents don’t like her fame, but they try everything to use it to their advantage no matter how that hurts Emmy. They are truly terrible and toxic. Then there’s Emmy’s girlfriend Jessie, who is also gas lighting her and manipulating her. Jessie is more interested in Emmy’s status and money than anything else and always makes her feel insecure, when things don’t go her way. She has Emmy under her thump and makes her agree to everything, as well as pay for all her expenses. She’s jealous, mean and does not care about Emmy as a person at all. She even laughs at her parent’s abuse. Not only is she abusive, Jessie has driven under the influence of alcohol several times and that’s something so irresponsible it always makes me angry. With the help of Chloe she realizes that she is manipulated and abused and tries to get out of this toxic environment. That of course is never easy.
IN CONCLUSION: The Brightsiders is an incredible book about the downfall of fame, complicated relationships and the value of found family. You will find yourself rooting for the main character Emmy and her story coping with emotional abuse, spinning out of control and trying to figure out how she can make things right again. Not only her but also her friends and biggest supporters grew on me and made this story very emotional and dear to me, I needed to see how the story ended, because I was so invested!
What is your favorite book featuring musical themes? Will you be reading The Brightsiders? 🎼