Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Blue Horizon Records is holding auditions and Danny Bright is determined to make his impression. He’s surprised when, after blowing them away at the auditions, he’s herded into a room and introduced to three other guys — Reece, Tate, and Webb. When big-time producer Sasha Pulaski tells the guys he’s creating a boy band and he wants them to be part of it, they’re shocked but excited. When Sasha discovers Elliot, the boy with the angel face and the voice of a devil, he knows he has found the missing puzzle piece.
The boys become part of a televised reality show called Band Camp in order to get some publicity for their newly formed band, now called Static. They spend a month with other up and coming bands, participating in challenges but also getting into the studio for the first time. It’s while they’re spending time together 24/7 in close proximity that Danny and Elliot discover the feelings they’ve had for each other since they’ve met have escalated, and, while neither boy has ever had a relationship with another guy, Elliot being completely inexperienced, they cannot deny these strong feelings.
As one would imagine, the possibilities for Danny and Elliot are not good. Their music is a success and they are all stars on the rise, but this success relies strongly on the love and devotion of their teenage fangirls who don’t want to hear that the boys they love are actually in love with each other. In order to ward off suspicion, Danny starts dating another musician and Elliot becomes, through the magic of the Internet, an uncaring womanizer. Meanwhile, the boys just want to be together, but also want to protect the band and the bandmates who have become like brothers.
Let’s call a spade a spade here: this is basically a fictionalized (or not so fictionalized?) account of the rise of boy band, One Direction. Maybe it’s not One Direction per se, but it certainly has enough distinct similarities here to be able to make that comparison quite easily. We know with this extremely popular boy band in particular, but also with others in years past, there have been rumors flying about the relationship between the band mates. Are they gay? Are they together? Are they teasing us, or is their obvious flirting real? Was that look just a look or “a look”?
There’s a whole subculture here that has gained in popularity to a manic degree in the past few years called “shippers” (as in “relationship”). Essentially, anytime someone or a group of someones wants to make a case for two people being in a relationship, they ship them. And while any attention is usually good for those trying to become famous, there’s a delicate balance between egging the shippers along — teasing them and giving them just enough to keep their names trending in social media — but also maintaining their relationship status availability for all the delusional teens who think they have a chance. This is the main crux of Catch My Breath. There’s a whole contingency of shippers who adore “Delly,” but everyone involved, including the boys themselves, know that coming out as a couple could destroy their chances of making it as a band.
This group of boys is adorable. O’Shea definitely captures that “Awwww” factor that seems to come so easily when you see five young, attractive, talented, rising stars. The relationships between the five were depicted so well. I mean, they’re kind of idiots. They’re young guys who’ve never really been out on their own and are in awe of their sudden rise to fame. They say and do really stupid things, but the relationship they have with each other is what keeps them grounded and makes them so likeable to the public. The thing about this that I found most interesting was not so much the relationship between MCs Elliot and Danny, but the dynamic between the others as well. While only the MCs are gay, I found O’Shea’s realistic portrayal of the bromances between the other bandmates to help me see that, you know what? Sometimes it’s just innocent fun.
The biggest problem I had with this book was that it skewed very, very young. I think it should be marketed as a YA book, but it probably contained a little too much graphic sex to fit into that category. It felt immature to me. The narrative of this novel is broken up by Tweets and blogs or Internet articles, and, even though I enjoy Twitter myself, this gave me a bit of a headache. I kind of felt caught in the middle of a preteen’s infatuation with a boyband, and I’m just a few years too old for that. At around 350 pages, the book could’ve easily done without the addition of these really unnecessary gimmicks.
I realize that maybe I’m not the intended audience for this book, but I’m not sure who that audience may be. I can’t say I’d recommend it to the YA crowd, but unless you’re a hard-core shipper (and I know there are some of you out there), this is almost too much insight into that world. It’s well-written and the characters are impossible to dislike (much like the members of a certain band this novel brings to mind), but it’s a little predictable and doesn’t have much depth to it. I’d definitely recommend it, as long as you know what you’re getting into.