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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…
Conflicting Feelings in the Best Way
I can’t remember the last time I loved a book that made me so so angry! Virtuosity did it for me. I must say I experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions. There were moments I felt happy and mesmerised and others where I felt sad and furious. Martinez writes beautifully and knows how to surprise her readers, which I already said about her second book, The Space Between Us. They are moving stories with beautiful prose and lots of surprises.
The characters came alive and I really felt like they were next to me, telling me their stories. It’s no surprise then that I am looking forward to reading her third book, The Vow. I have it sitting on my desk, lined up to be read in the coming month.
I Could Keep Raving
Now, back to Virtuosity. I could just rave about it and go on and on about how much I loved it. But that’s not going to help much in explaining why. As I said, the prose was amazing. It was well thought out, lyrical when it came to speaking about music but also very well-balanced with humour.
Iron fists, it turned out, come in all shapes and sizes. This one had a French manicure.
Driven with Ambition
Carmen was a strong character who knew what she wanted and that was to win the Guarneri competition. The one person who could just as easily tear it away from her was Jeremy. It didn’t help when the two started to get involved with one another. Yet no matter how smitten she was with him, her goal was never far from her mind, so her adoration was mixed with repulsion. And that was what made me believe her.
Years she toiled at perfecting the violin. Wanting to become the best violinist in the world also was what allowed her to slip into drug abuse. She became dependent on Indernal to take care of her nerves.
Virtuosity thus presents the journey of a world-class musician and how far she would be willing to go to be the top of the class. I thought the books was fascinating and there were twists I did not for the life of me expect. They stole my breath, left me steaming mad and when I closed that book at the end, I was positively sad that I didn’t have more left to read.
Accessibility beyond Music
Regardless of whether one knows music or not, Martinez made Virtuosity accessible to anyone. There’s no excess of music jargon but there were enough musical references that those who do know know music will especially appreciate.
Prominent Adult Figure
Carmen’s mother Diane was also integral to the plot, not only as Carmen’s mother but also as her agent. I definitely appreciated the presence of a prominent adult figure, even if I didn’t agree with some of her methods. She gave Carmen everything she could possibly think of to help her to achieve greatness as a classical violinist. She also made provisions for a private tutor, so when Jeremy came into Carmen’s life, there obviously was conflict because 1) he was someone who could distract her, and 2) he was the prime competition.
Many Things Mattered
Nonetheless, I liked that even though there were strong undertones of romance, music was what drove the plot first before the romance did. That is something that I particularly appreciate when it comes to contemporary fiction because I’m interested in the protagonist’s life as a whole and their passions. If I’m in the mood for romance, I’ll grab a book based on romance.
Oh and one other thing I liked was Carmen’s reference to her Catholic faith, or lack thereof. Personal beliefs are something that aren’t featured enough, so that added a plus point too in rounding up the character of Carmen, whose voice packed a whole lot of punch as well. <>
Clark offered to drive me with all the subtlety of a sumo wrestler in ballet shoes.
Discussion of Gender DisparityBesides the story itself, Virtuosity also offered a fair bit of thought. Jeremy brought up the difference in judging between female and male competitors. Females can be quiet and withdrawn which makes them look demure and sweet but the same attitude in males makes them look weak. Such interspersed commentary helped break up the varying parts of the book and slow things down a little for me to savour.
I wanted to protest. I was a musician, not an actress. Smiling on command made me feel like a pageant contestant, and I wasn’t vying for Miss Illinois.
Feisty Main Character and a Book of Heart
Such internal monologues showed the feisty side of Carmen who didn’t just want to accept everything at face value. They also conveyed humour to lighten some of the heavier aspects of the plot. Also, to me, they portrayed the difficult side of Carmen’s position, where she had to always put on an act to please others, no matter how much or how little she was into her performances. Overall, that is why I absolutely adored Virtuosity: the heart and soul that sprung out of it.