Sunday, March 16, 2008

Review of Audrey, Wait! Robin Benway's debut novel

Audrey, Wait! by debut Young Adult novelist Robin Benway hits stores in April. Should you rush to your local bookstore and order it this minute? The answer is a resounding, musical YES, with heavy bass beats and non-synthesized drums in the background.

This is precisely the sort of YA fiction I hunt for but don't find often enough. It's fun without being vapid, fast-paced without sacrificing well-developed characters, and sweet without ever veering into saccharine land. The pacing is tight, and every scene delivers humor, tension, or pathos in just the right doses. Most of all, though, Benway manages to nail the voice and mindset of a modern teen girl with startling honesty and spot on accuracy.

Here's the premise: Audrey breaks up with her self-absorbed musician boyfriend on page one. Good riddance. He proceeds to write a breakup song called "Audrey, Wait!" The catchy number shoots to the very top of the pop charts and Audrey finds herself thrust into a brand new existence, one filled with paparazzi, online discussions about her love life, and teenie-boppers imitating her offbeat fashions.

The plot has momentum and moves nicely, but my favorite aspect of this book is definitely the attention to detail in Benway's character development. Every one of the main players, and even a few of the minor ones, are quirky, intriguing, and endearing. In particular, Audrey's best friend Victoria has such zest and energy she leaps off the page. She's also deeply human with very believable flaws, which makes her even more memorable and affecting.

Don't take my word for it, though. Get thee to thy bookstore and reserve your copy now. Robin Benway is a mega-talented writer, and if there is any justice in the world of YA fiction Audrey, Wait! will shoot to the top of the charts the second it hits the shelves.

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