Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Publication Date: October 18th, 2011
Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

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….
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MY TAKE 4/5 STARS

At the youthful age of seventeen, Carmen has not really lived a life of a normal teenager. Having spent most of her young life rehearsing, touring, and competing, you could say that her life experience is pretty much limited to music. She’s a violin virtuoso; amassing awards, recognition and accolades is more of her forte than worrying about crushes and what to wear for the dance. She’s homeschooled and the only exposure she has with boys is through competition. She’s focused on winning the most prestigious award for a violinist like her – the Guarneri. Only one person stands in her way and the only person even her could admit is a worthy adversary – British fellow virtuoso, Jeremy King.

I love, love, love music themed books. It doesn’t matter what genre of music is being used, for some reason, it just makes the story infinitely better for me.

Sometimes, when I read a book about something specific and exclusive, I could tell whether the knowledge was research-based or the author was speaking from first hand knowledge. Well, this author is a wealth of classical and musical information. It’s so easy to sound pretentious when you write about classical music but Ms. Martinez was definitely the opposite of that. The illustrative writing was so visceral that I could almost hear the melancholy notes of Carmen’s playing.

Virtuosity gave me a chance to understand the pressure facing talented musicians and what usually lead them astray. In Carmen’s case, it was sad to see that the most burdening pressure came from her mom. It was comprehensible to a degree why her mother was the way she was but it was still disconcerting to read about a mother forcing her daughter to take addictive anxiety pills for the sake of winning. That’s not the only thing she did…you’d have to read the book to find out. It’s deplorable and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I love the banter between characters. Jeremy is one of those arrogant boys that we readers can’t help but love. I had fun reading their arguments, no matter how trivial they may have been sometimes.
This is a beautiful story with equally beautiful writing. But sadly, the ending left me a bit unfulfilled. It makes me wonder if there will be a sequel. So many possibilities…I read this through S & S galley grab and it’s one of those books that I’m going to need a copy for future re-read. 

  • It absolutely is! I can't wait till I can get my very own copy!

  • Lovely book isn't it? I think the ending is intentionally leaving Carmen on crossroads to show that her life is just starting. I would love to know if there is a book #2 but can't find any info.