Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Title: Virtuosity
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Galley Grab
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....
Until Virtuosity, I didn't realize violin was so cutthroat! It's like part beauty pageant and part UFC. Or cheerleading in Texas. Hahaha, no. Not really. There's no cage fighting or murder-for-hire. But emotionally, that's what it sometimes felt like while reading this.

I like Carmen. She is basically the musical equivalent of an Olympic athlete. Her sport? Classical violin. Anxiety becomes an issue and she is given medication for it, upon which she becomes psychologically dependent. She struggles with her nerves and potential disaster on stage versus the detached feeling caused by her medicine, which prevents her from really feeling the joy of music. It is easy to connect with Carmen and her struggles because her feelings have a universal truth to them. Jeremy, Carmen's violin nemesis (cue excitement and tension!), is also a likable character with sympathetic motives. He and Carmen simultaneously like and loathe each other. The dynamic between them is really great, because they can understand each other so well and therefore have a major connection, but at the same time they are each other's single biggest threat. A lot of their hopes for their futures are riding on this one competition.

One would think that a book about classical violin would be sort of slow, but Virtuosity isn't. Between Carmen's internal and external struggles (her anxiety, her mother, Jeremy), the plot moves forward easily. The descriptions of the music are engrossing. Carmen's performance anxiety drags the reader with her into that nervous state. I found myself holding my breath for her a few times. Her interactions with Jeremy are successfully endearing and infuriating at the same time.

Virtuosity has moments that both inspire and exasperate. It's a terrific story that left me smiling. I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary ya, music, competition, rivals, and coming-of-age stories.


  1. Sigh. Right?! This was such a phenomenal book! I loved it so much. I was very impressed by the complexity of Carmen's story and how much emotion there was in every aspect.

  2. I loved this book! I figured it would be okay but was a little unsure since I know nothing about violin or classical music. I thought maybe I'd be bored at times, but I wasn't! It was actually a very engrossing and fast read! So glad you loved it too!

  3. I have this one in my to read pile!! You really make me want to pick it up! Thanks for the great review!


What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment!

If you like this post, then please subscribe to the RSS feed!