Fifteen Minute Bob by Catherine Forde

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Fifteen Minute Bob by Catherine Forde

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Decent plot but flat characters make this novel about the internet and the music business hit or miss. Still worth a try if you're interested in that kind of thing.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 256 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1405229302

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For years, conscientious student Rory and his hard-working mother have struggled to cope with his father, an eyeliner wearing struggling singer-songwriter unable to hold down a job, and obsessed with a star called Bob Blade. While Rory finds his father's unreliability a nightmare to live with, his two friends Smiler and Barry think he's cool and spend more time hanging out with him than with Rory. As the trio of Smiler, Barry, and Rory's dad team up to make a music video that goes viral on the internet, Rory gets unwittingly involved and, in the words of the blurb from the back, everything flips.

Also in the words of that blurb, THE music novel for today's iPod generation. Sounds like a must-read? Well… I was certainly hoping to love this book. I'm really interested in music, I'm hooked on my iPod and on the internet in general, and while I've never read any of Catherine Forde's previous works, I've heard lots of good things about them.

So, what went wrong? I didn't particularly dislike the book – I just couldn't get particularly interested in it. The characters all seem rather two-dimensional – Rory is something of a nerd, who gets the only real character development in the book, Barry and Smiler are typical sidekicks in a book like this, Rory's crush Nettie is sweet and friendly and basically very similar to huge amounts of love interests in teen fiction.

In fact, I think that's what went wrong – I've read too many books which were similar to this, but just that bit better. Once you get past the music stuff, it's a very standard dysfunctional family story – and the music stuff is decent, but doesn't really raise it much above that. Apart from anything else, events seem to happen unbelievably fast, even in today's world of overnight successes.

Aside from the speed seeming to be a little on the rapid side, the plot is pretty good. The descriptive writing is also enjoyable here, to be fair. I particularly liked Rory's depiction of his dad wheezing away in the sitting room like a pair of bellows with emphysema. It's easy to read, and passes the time fairly well. I do think that it's a book that would be enjoyed by teens with an avid interest in music – there are two or three pupils I teach who I'd generally class as reluctant readers who I'd imagine would devour it – but it's hard to recommend to readers in general when there are so many great teen books out there today.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Any teens interested in music will certainly love Just Listen, by the amazingly talented Sarah Dessen.

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