Review: Dancing Queen by Erin Downing

Posted: July 29, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , ,

This review was first posted at West of Mars. It’s being reposted here, at its new permanent home.

It began at the library, as many of my forays into young adult literature do (sadly). The Girl Band picked up a copy of a book called Dancing Queen. Yeah, like in ABBA. We looked at each other. “What the heck?” we asked each other. “It’s a free read,” I told her. “If you don’t like it…”

“Return it!” she told me with a laugh.

She’s heard this refrain from me before.

A day later, she brought it to me. “Mom,” she said, “this is more your thing.”

She was right. Dancing Queen, written by Erin Downing, is the story of Olivia – Liv – who comes from Minnesota to spend the summer in London, interning for Music Mix, an operation that seems awfully like Fuse TV or the golden days of MTV. They do a countdown, they do concerts, they are supposedly all things music.

One of the first things Liv does is catch the eye of pop star Josh Cameron, who says he likes Liv because she’s not the usual starlet, but who certainly leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the way he treats our heroine. He’s never referred to by only his first name, only by both names, which is both mystifying and annoying. He also never comes alive as a character.

The story follows Liv as she tries to figure out if she wants to be with Josh Cameron while she decides – or not – to figure out what’s going on with her fellow intern, Colin. There’s the tough boss who reminds one of Miranda Priestly; the Southern belle of a roommate who, of course, has a hidden, softer side; and the other roommate, the one whose parents don’t understand her desire to work for Music Mix after the summer ends. One conversation and poof! It’s all better.

Yes, I know. This is young adult lit. What am I expecting? I don’t know. Maybe something as wonderful as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. As Sarra Manning’s Guitar Girl. Or even on par with my all-time YA Rock Fiction favorite: Fat Kid Rules the World.

In the end, I wouldn’t say this is Rock Fiction nearly as much as it is a fun beach read that, like Last Night at Chateau Marmont, is more about the condition of being a star than it is about being specifically a music star. Dancing Queen is a feel-good book about finding your way and, ultimately, about it being okay to be the boring, normal girl who loves what she does but who is perfectly happy to be outside the inner circles of fame.

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