Title: Five Flavors of Dumb
Author: Antony John
The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.
The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.
The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?
Piper can’t hear Dumb’s music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.
The first thing that caught me about this book was the title. Looking at the new books at the local library, I scanned all the spines to see if there were any books that I had been wanting to read (there was – The Julian Game, which I’ve already reviewed). This title stood out, and for good reason – it’s a pretty unique title. Once I pulled it out from the shelf and saw the cover, my interest level rose, and by the time I read the summary – a deaf girl managing a new band, how cool is that? – I was completely hooked. I immediately stuck it in my pile of books to check out and couldn’t wait to start reading it. I had such high hopes for this book. And I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
From the beginning of the book to the end, I was hooked. The protagonist, Piper, is such an interesting character, and I was so interested by her story. This is a moderately deaf girl whose parents and brother can hear perfectly and whose baby sister was completely deaf but, through expensive medical advances, now has complete hearing. She didn’t set out to manage an inspiring band, but that’s what she ends up with, and it helps her. The mix of her family and at-home issues, along with the issues of the band, make for a great combination that twists together into a great story.
And if that interesting premise isn’t enough to get you running to the library or bookstore to check this book out, here’s another great aspect of the story – the romance, which doesn’t dominate the story – is a very real relationship between the protagonist and her potential love interest. Ed, the love interest, is one of her few friends from the very beginning of the book – she isn’t even interested in him at the beginning. There’s no ‘love pow,’ which many YA readers complain about. Their relationship started out based on that friendship, and it began to build very slowly, just like most real life relationships would. Slight spoiler alert: they don’t even get together until the end of the book, and their romance seems all the more real because of that, and I have to admire a YA book that doesn’t focus completely on a romance, and this one certainly didn’t – it was barely a subplot, let alone the main focus.
The second I finished reading the last page of the book, I immediately gave it a five star grade. I decided to wait a day or two to write the review, though, to give myself a little time to process it and figure out what I really thought about it. Looking back, I feel like it could have used a little more character development – we only really get a look at some of the character’s lives, and I feel like we could have gone even more in-depth, seen a better picture of some of the supporting characters’ lives. I half wish for a sequel, if only to get a better look at all of their backgrounds, but I’m very happy with how the story ends for Piper. And the slightly under-developed character development is so little of a problem, at least for me, that I couldn’t bare knocking the grade down to four or even four and a half stars. Based on my original thoughts, I loved this book, and the little things aren’t enough to change my opinion.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars