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Review: Ambitious by Monica McKayhan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
1 Star: Not For Me
Series: Premiere High #1
Paperback: 356 Pages
Publication: August 23, 2011 by Kimani Tru

There's only one thing tougher than getting in to Premiere High: Staying in…

At Premiere School of the Performing Arts, nicknamed Premiere High, talent is a must and competition is fierce. But the payoff is worth it. Some of the biggest stars in music, movies and dance are on the alumni list. New student Marisol Garcia dreams of taking her place among them one day. And being chosen to take part in a local dance contest where a film role is the prize could possibly be her first step into the spotlight.

Almost as big a challenge: getting Drew Bishop to see her as more than a friend. But Drew is preoccupied with his own dilemma of either playing basketball, which could be a free ticket to college, or pursuing the stage where he really comes alive. But every dream comes with a price. And as Marisol becomes consumed with winning, the once straight–A student risks losing everything. Starting with her parents' approval, her friends and her place at Premiere High…

Ambitious just wasn’t the book for me. The idea was nice: I like how the novel features ethnic variety in the two narrators, Mari being a poor Latina dancer and Drew being a wealthy African American, and I like the premise behind the novel. However, it wasn't developed well enough for me.  The characters are superficial and stereotypical, and the entire plot is too generalized and overly predictable as a whole.

I like to see characters struggle. While Mari and Drew, the two narrators, do have problems of their own, the various side plots were never developed with depth, and everything else came too easy for them. Mari is gorgeous and excels at dancing when she hasn’t taken many formal dance classes. Drew is a star basketball player who decided to pursue his love of the stage, and he too takes lead roles without having studied acting. And just how did they both make it into the prestigious Premiere High without much formal study of their choice of the performing arts?

On the whole, there isn’t nearly enough character or plot development for me, an underlying problem that I’ve found in shorter YA novels. Rather than calling this a YA novel, I believe that middle grade students will enjoy a lot more, as the story isn’t complex, though I have read middle-grade novels that I liked a lot better. Note that there are gangs in this book, smoking, and romance. There isn’t any sexual activity.

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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