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QM Schaffer
Gods of Sound: The Perilous Path of Cameron Foster
QM Schaffer, author
Cameron Foster, consistently bullied at school, finds solace with his battered guitar. He is as skilled with it as Harry Potter is with a wand. Into his life enters a mysterious woman in her late twenties, clad in black leather like a reincarnated Joan Jett. She observes him, soon rocking his world. But tragedy strikes and Cameron winds up under the influence of a strange and reclusive billionaire. Has he landed in a deadly secret cult? He struggles to find out before it's too late.
Schaffer explores a young boy’s coming-of-age story in a superpowered, rock-heavy fiction full of music, mystery, and hidden strengths. Lonely and asthmatic, Cameron Foster is an unlucky kid – his foster mom Ethel is an alcoholic, and he's bullied daily. But Cameron’s extraordinary talent for guitar keeps him going. When he meets a mysterious woman decked entirely in leather, Cameron’s life changes forever. His virtuosity attracts the attention of a secretive organization of extraordinary musicians with plans to change the world. As the life he knew disappears, Cameron must learn to fight for himself to discover his hidden power.

Schaffer endears the reader to his underdog protagonist by delving into Cameron’s character and dramatically stacking the deck against him. However, Schaffer hinders engagement by merely summarizing what is at the heart of Gods of Sound: the music. Guitar performances and competitions dominate the story, but instead of bringing the music to life with vivid descriptions, he states the songs on the setlists and moves on (“ with lightning fast fingers he played the beginning of an intricate classical song for Spanish guitar, gracefully slipping into the last two minutes of the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California,’ then into part of the heavier ‘Black Dog’ by Led Zeppelin.”) Consequently, readers are thrust out of the story, forced to look up the songs if they want to understand the scene better. Without capturing the power of the music, Gods of Sound falls shy of being the exhilarating, rock opera-esque adventure its audience might crave.

Still, Schaffer delivers a fantasy-fulfilling adventure that succeeds in the promise of most young adult novels: It immerses its readers in an entertaining world while mirroring their own coming-of-age journeys. Guitar lovers will appreciate the rise of a young and talented rock star, and YA fans will enjoy this hero who persists against every obstacle to find his real family.

Takeaway: Guitar lovers will enjoy this high stakes coming-of-age story that pairs the supernatural with the power of rock.

Great for fans of: Robin Benway’s Audrey Wait!, Sarah Nicole Smetana’s The Midnights.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: A