Thursday, January 12, 2012

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
October 18, 2011; Simon Pulse


Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....(courtesy of Goodreads)


Virtuosity is your typical forbidden romance tale with a classic music twist. It's amazing how one of the oldest literary themes, when done well, manages to feel fresh.

Our stars:

Carmen: 17 year old year old musical prodigy whose life consists of the violin and is entirely steered by her mother. She is extremely sheltered - homeschooled and friends only with her tutor Heidi. Dependent on anti-anxiety pills to relieve stage fright and every other anxiety. One of those people whose life appears perfect but is falling apart on the inside.

Jeremy: Another teen musical prodigy. British, handsome, arrogant, ambitious, independent.

Jeremy + Carmen: At first I thought Carmen would wilt under Jeremy's sharp tongue. She seems backbone-less. But she surprisingly held her own. I enjoyed watching them throw sharp, witty comments at each other. There is an element of insta-love, or more accurately insta-chemistry, here that could be off-putting, but it wasn't. Jeremy and Carmen lead lives immensely different from most teens. Jeremy is one of the only people who can understand Carmen and vice versa. In that situation, the quick connection makes sense.

Our minor stars: Carmen's mother is the most important influence in Carmen's life. She starts out mildly dislikable - no different than any parent who pushes their child to excel in some activity, but her character grows increasingly worse as the novel goes on. Still, while she is a villain of sorts, I understood why she acted as she did. Carmen is lucky to have a great stepfather and tutor. Both Clark and Heidi do their best to imbue a tiny bit of normalcy into Carmen's high-flying life. It helps relieve the pressure from her mother.

The romance between Carmen and Jeremy is gentle and sweet. Not to say that it isn't complicated. Carmen doesn't know Jeremy's motives for being interested in her. Does he really like her or is he just trying to psyche her out before the big competition? Neither Carmen nor the reader knows the answer to this. I liked how Jeremy evolved as a character yet also stayed the same. He is a kind, funny guy, but remains arrogant and ambitious.

Like most contemporary novels, Virtuosity is primarily character driven. I enjoyed the romance plot, the music element, and the stunning conclusion to the Guarneri competition. However, what I loved best was meeting Carmen and Jeremy and the minor characters - learning about their hope, dreams, fears, and motivation. The book reads easily. It's never a page turner, but steadily glides along. The prose is simple. I wouldn't say it's a bare style, but the sentences and paragraphs are fairly short, which means the words flow quickly.

I highly recommend Virtuosity for a well-written contemporary novels with well-drawn characters and a great infusion of music.

Rating: 4 / 5


  1. Great review! I really enjoyed this book and reading about the chemistry between Jeremy and Carmen. Those two were awesome!

  2. I wish to read this book!
    Great Review!

    Esha@ Readaholicme

  3. I've been wanting to read this! Now that I've read your review, I'd definitely bump it up on my TBR list. Great review! :)

  4. If I hadn't been immersed in the story the whole way along, the ending would definitely have snagged me completely. Such a well-written book.

  5. Ooooo I like how you called it insta-chemistry, that works much better for me than insta-love! I've heard great things about this one, and if you give it 4 stars then it's definitely something that's worth my time:)

  6. Like Jenny, I'm digging the insta-chemistry, too. It's much easier to believe that character who've experienced the same things connect more "insta" anything than the mysterious bad boy/awkward girl pairing that is common.

  7. I've read only so-so reviews of this book and wasn't sure to add it to my tbr pile. Your review has me thinking twice.I've only read a few books that feature teenage rock stars that I either liked or finished. This one seems like something I would like. I think I'll put it on my maybe list.

  8. I read this book a few months back and really quite enjoyed it. I just loved Carmen and found myself really attached to her finding happiness. Glad you liked it as well, great review!

  9. I read this book and loved it! The sacrifice in it is good. Plus music is something I can always relate to.

  10. I wanted to read this when it was on the SS galley grab, it looked so good. Glad to know it is good! I'll keep it on my TBR. Hopefully I can read it sometime soon, since the galley expired on me.

  11. I read this book and loved it! tnx 4 sharing your thoughts
    yes insta- chemistry ^_^

  12. Awesome review. I would love to read this book. As a musician myself I'm always up for books that explore or involve this element.

  13. I've definitely had this one on my radar for a while now. I love music anyhow (violin arrangements being my favorite), but knowing that Jessica was a professional musician too adds a level of realism to the story that really intrigues me.


  14. See the romance just did not work for me as I did not trust Jeremy. I thought he had ignoble intentions and he never won me over.

  15. I've heard about the music in this book, which is what got me really excited about it. I didn't know about the forbidden love aspect, though.

    Sounds great.


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