Jen Wilde has outdone herself, following the impeccable success of QUEENS OF GEEK, delivering a story just as fun, diverse, and important in her sophomore novel, THE BRIGHTSIDERS.
Emmy King should be on top of the world; one of the members of the world famous band, The Brightsiders, Emmy has the world at her fingertips. After one night of too much partying, some booze and a drunken tirade from her girlfriend, she is forced to look at her life and deal with some of the drama and problems that keep coming up. When Emmy connects with Alfie, the lead singer of the band, on a level that is more than friendship, she fears that it will tear the band apart… But what if this is the relationship Emmy needs in her life? She’ll have to learn to stand on her own and become the best version of herself along the way.
To put it simply, when I discovered Jen Wilde back in August 2016 via Wattpad, my life changed. I’m not exaggerating when I say I fell in love with her Eva series as much as I fell for her writing and her own personality. And to this day, no series has come close to dethroning it (you can buy it for less than $5 on Kindle, by the way, and I still daydream of the day it gets picked up by a big publisher). Having loved and adored both the Eva series and Queens of Geek, I was bit scared. The last time I had read anything by Jen it had been over a year ago, January 2017. What if that love faded away? What if my growth as a bookworm changed everything and I didn’t feel anything for her books anymore? Well, how wrong I was. There’s a reason why I’m currently screaming, shouting, dancing, and crying with emotion. She hit it out of the park. Big time. AGAIN.
I can count with my fingers the times that I have full-on felt represented on page. It’s only been four times, actually. Let me make that five. Emmy King is my new favorite main character. I literally felt like I was her on countless occasions. I related to everything about her, except her relationship with her parents, cause I’ve been thankfully blessed with some pretty incredible and supportive parents. All the ways that she felt, the hardships that she went through, all her internal struggles, I felt it all. I was ACHING for her happiness. It feels so suffocating to feel like you don’t deserve things and then fall into this hole, that hit me HARD. Plus her journey to her self-discovery brought tears to my eyes. Plus she’s so talented and beautiful and funny and selfless, I wanna marry her and bake her all the unicorn cupcakes.
I have so many thoughts on the rest of the cast of characters cause they’re all amazing, so I’m going to try summarizing this a bit. Alfie was the kind of person I aspire to be, he just gave absolutely ZERO f*cks about what anyone thought of who he was and what he did and I’m HERE for that. Ryan was the most adorable fluffball and such a great and caring friend, and I want friends only like Ryan Cho from now on. Chloe was the sassiest of them all; not only their fashion sense was on point, but their advice and opinions were valuable af, and you can catch me tomorrow recreating that list they created to apply to my own life. Kass and Will were incredibly recurring, but every time they were on the page, they both shone like the brightest stars on the universe all combined into one.
If you don’t like books filled to the brim with drama, as much as it hurts me to say it, you might want to stay away from this book. The Brightsiders are international superstars, stalked by paparazzi 24/7, trying to keep their lives under control so they don’t ruin their reputations and careers, and juggling fame has never been easy. There are a lot of conflicts in the novel related to fame as a whole, and if you’re not into that, you’re going to hate it and probably think it’s too much. All I know is that whenever I tried to convince my brain this would never happen in real life, it answered right back, because these are issues celebrities face on an everyday basis. They are constantly harassed in public and are obligated to answer extremely private questions. This particular issue is one I think the novel handled brilliantly.
Plus, I wasn’t expecting it to touch on the controversial topic of teen stars dealing with manipulative, emotionally abusive parents. At times, it was hard to read about, but it also gave way for some of Emmy’s most crucial character development that helped her become that main character I fell knee-deep for.
Due to all the drama, the book has one of the most exciting plots I’ve ever read in a YA contemporary, which also gives you that experience of what it feels like to be a celebrity. I connected so much to the characters, the book didn’t rely on the plot solely to be great. And the same way around. The chapters were really short, which kept me motivated and something was always happening. So even if you dislike this book, I guarantee you’re in for a wild ride, my friend.
Some may not be too mesmerized by Wilde’s writing, maybe calling it okay and basic, but I have loved it since day one. It’s told from first person POV, which I was thrilled about and made my reading experience more pleasant, and it completely avoided the “all tell, no show” path, everything was described in vivid detail, which I’m always a fan of, like I’ve mentioned in the past.
This is easily one of the most diverse books that I’ve ever encountered. It has a bisexual MC, a black, nonbinary femme character, a genderqueer, pansexual character who has social anxiety and took medication, a bisexual Korean-American, and surprisingly, an f/f emotionally abusive relationship, which I had never seen in a YA book. I probably missed something but if you read this, which I really hope you do, expect the most ginormous ball of queerness on display– It’s great.
I can’t speak for all of the representation above, but I can confirm the bisexual rep is absolutely fantastic in both parts, and it’s one of the key reasons why I adore this book; it is the first book I’ve read with a bi main character since I came out as bi, and it made me feel all warm and gooey on the inside. Seeing myself on the page like that for the first time broke my heart in the best way possible and made me feel like the happiest girl alive.
In summary, my most anticipated release of the year is easily one of my new favorite books of all time, and it means the world to me. It’s a celebration of being yourself, a huge-ass queer party, and it proves how hard being famous can be. Living your life to the fullest with the folks closest to you, and not caring at all. Because this is your life, and you decide what to do with it. Things may get hard sometimes but at the end of the tunnel, there’s always gonna be a bight light that will help you stand up and keep going. And all I hope for is that it make’s everyone’s hearts as full as it made mine.
P. S., if you read and adored Queens of Geek, get ready for the biggest surprise of your life. *insert wink emoji*
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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?