After reading Non Pratt’s fantastic debut novel Trouble last year, I was absolutely itching to get my hands on her latest book Remix, a story based around two best friends attending a music festival. As I expected, it did not disappoint. No one does real contemporary like Non Pratt does!
There are three things I think YA novels are often missing, one, realistic teen characters that constantly mess up, two, relationships that aren’t perfect, and three, real representations of friendships that aren’t purely a plot device. Remix is a novel that has all three of these, and, therefore, it has epic proportions of awesome!
I would like to thank the lovely people at Walker Books for giving my a free ARC of Remix in exchange for an honest review.
From the author of Trouble comes a novel about boys, bands and best mates.
Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life… Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.
Three days. Two best mates. One music festival.
Zero chance of everything working out.
Kaz and Ruby have just finished their GCSEs and are nursing painful breakups, looking forward to a summer of freedom before real life kicks in and everything changes. They’ve bagged tickets to the music festival Remix where their favourite band Goldentone are playing. With Ruby’s brother, Lee, his boyfriend, Owen and a group of other friends they’re off to the land of wellies, flower crowns and hot guys. There’s just one problem, it turns out Kaz and Ruby’s ex’s are at the festival too, and their presence is about to wreck havoc on the girls ‘perfect’ weekend. Will they be able to stay away from temptation or will their lies and past baggage drive a wedge between their friendship?
Remix is a novel set over a period of three days and switches between the point of views of Kaz and Ruby. Each character’s voice instantly feels distinct, and because the POVs alternate in short snappy bursts sometimes only lasting half a page, you aren’t given the time to form a favourite and so become equally invested in their stories. Non Pratt has a writing style that I adore. It’s direct and to the point but packs a mighty punch. Plus, she uses Harry Potter references, what’s not to love?! Her dialogue is full of sass and sarcasm, which often made me snort unintentionally, she’s so great at capturing believable teen voices and I love that she talks about the kind of natural teenage mistakes and mishaps many YA books gloss over, it’s so refreshing! From the moment I picked up this book, I found it almost physically impossible to put down. One does not simply read a Non Pratt book in little chunks!
As I mentioned above, the main reason I loved this book was because in centred on a friendship between two girls, something which is so often pushed aside in YA in favour of steamy romances or dramatic events which is a shame, because I think friendships are often the unsung heroes in our lives; friends are there for us when we need them whether they realise it or not, and we share many of our most treasured moments with them. This is an aspect that comes across strongly in Remix. The dynamic between Kaz and Ruby is brilliantly crafted, they are aware of each other flaws and quirks inside out, know the words to each other’s favourite songs and can have screaming matches only to make up in a minute the next day. I loved the way the bond between the two and their love for music made them feel invincible as if they could face any battles as long as they were together. However, like real friendships, not everything is perfect. Each is dealing with their own personal problems that impact their relationship, and both are struggling to find their individual identities, questioning how their friendship can grow and thrive when their lives are going in such different directions. This rung so true for me and I’m sure many other people out there will relate. I think we’ve all experienced that moment when a friendship reaches a precipice and we have to make a choice to either tumble into the abyss and go separate ways or to grab hold and take the time to work through the pain, fix the problems and grow stronger for it.
Of course, this novel has many other great aspects, the vibrant festival setting was a big plus for me because I had never read about it before which made the story feel fresh and unique, the author captures so well the feelings of freedom and endless possibilities, the power of music and the stench of unclean portaloos. The insane boy drama had me hooked and who I was rooting to steal the protagonists’ hearts seemed to change every chapter. I loved the focus on the importance of making mistakes and learning from them, as well as the significance of knowing when to let go and when to hold on. Remix also hits on many current hot topics in YA which was brilliant to see! There’s ethnic diversity in the main characters, representations of different sexualities and a realistic, gritty, portrayal of teen life which doesn’t shy away from depicting excessive drinking, drugs or sex. We need more books like this in the world! However, one small problem I did have was that I wish there had been a more central driving plot in Remix that I could have dug my nails into. At points, I did wonder where the story was going and I felt like it could have used that extra hook to reel me in!
As for the characters, they were pretty awesome. They were crazy and flawed, as teenagers SHOULD be, and made some pretty failtastic decisions but were all the more likable because of it. I related to both Kaz and Ruby in different ways, and although Kaz is technically the ‘good girl’ and ruby the ‘bad girl’ they never fall into stereotypes and are rounded individuals. Both girls go through very different journeys in this book. I enjoyed reading about Kaz and her struggles to get over her ex-boyfriend and it was great to see her become more confident in herself as the book progressed. However, it was Ruby that really captured my attention with her hard, sometimes self-destructive attitude that hid so many insecurities. I loved reading about her school problems and worries about living up to her parents expectations, and her friend envy, when Kaz was hanging out with other people, hit a chord with me. Non Pratt also does secondary characters so well, making you root for them just as much as the protagonists and it really makes a difference to a story when you care about the external events. The relationship between Lee and Owen tugged at my emotions, the predicament with Lauren had me on edge, and all the leading lads were individual in their own ways!
Overall, Remix was a smart, emotionally charged drama fest full of intense emotions and makes the perfect summer book with its focus on endings and new beginnings. It’s a book about the beauty and struggles of friendship, and how while friends are never perfect, they are always there for you in the end. I would recommend this book to those who love witty, brutally honest writing and realistic teen characters!
Remix is being released on the 4th of June, so you can grab a copy just in time to sit outside, read and soak up the summer rays!
Writing Style: 5/5
Character Development: 5/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes!