7 hours 33 mins | Scholastic Audio | Contemporary | 7/06/2021
Content warnings: parental loss, panic attacks, gun violence and nonconsensual picture sharing
You Should See Me In A Crown was one of my favorite reads last year and I was excited to see what Johnson had in store for her sophomore novel. The one was a little more of an emotional heavy hitter with an ambitious plot structure that left me wanting more.
Rise To the Sun takes place entirely at the weekend-long Farmland Music Festival. We get two protagonists; Toni Jackson a Farmland veteran finding herself after the death of her father and Olivia Brooks, a hopeless romantic attending the festival for the first time to distract from a life-changing decision. The two girls stumble into each other on the first day of the festival and begin a complicated romance neither was looking for.
I thought the world-building and character development in this book were excellent, Johnson does such a good job unraveling our characters and their backgrounds, effortlessly flashing between the past and present day. The festival setting and all its fictional music stars feel lived in and fully formed.
But the plot was lacking for me. I think when you have a story in a condensed timeframe the plot needs to be dynamic to move the story along and this book felt like it was standing still. For a while, the main plot seems to be Toni and Olivia in a mutually beneficial agreement to win a contest. But all of that gets dropped when the book switches to a mass shooting event that is (mild spoiler) not even a shooting at all…. though the aftermath of it is treated it like it was shooting ? I was surprised to see the shooting mentioned on the cover copy– I wonder if Johnson backed away from making it more integral to the plot.
This story sparkles on audio. I was happy to see narrator Alaska Jackson returns to narrate Toni, I thought she was great in You Should See Me in A Crown. She is joined by Lexi Underwood who has this frothy, youthful voice that was perfect for Olivia. I hope she continues working in audio because she has such an amazing voice for YA.
This book exists in the same world as You Should See Me In A Crown and readers get some fun cameos and connections.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.