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Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story.

363 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Steven Camden

9 books100 followers
Steven Camden is one of the most acclaimed spoken-word artists in the country. As Polarbear, he has performed extensively around the UK and internationally. He also writes plays, teaches storytelling in schools, and was a lead artist for Ministry of Stories and The Roundhouse poetry collective.

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5 stars
247 (10%)
4 stars
571 (24%)
3 stars
862 (36%)
2 stars
492 (20%)
1 star
200 (8%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 410 reviews
589 reviews1,030 followers
December 23, 2013

There will be no proper review because I only reached around 50 pages in. Perhaps, one day I will pick this book up again but I don't think it'll be any time soon. The few days I tried reading this, I just wasn't feeling it. :|

Here is a few words: I don't think anyone should take my DNF and make it the reason why they won't read this. Tape has a great story about love, not just romantic love but also family love. (I skimmed the last few pages.) I can't say much about the characters but the reason why I had to put this down was because of the writing and the style. Firstly, there were no speech marks. Instead, there are dashes to signify someone is talking which was different, and hard to get used to. It somehow made Tape feel monotonous and not moving. I felt detached.

E.g. (Not taken from book)
- She said she wasn't going to go! Camilla cried, tears spilling down her flushed cheeks.

The writing is simplistic and dull. Even irrelevant. Things like "And it started to rain." And I felt that there was a lot of telling and not enough showing.
Profile Image for Paula M.
546 reviews643 followers
November 14, 2014

Have you ever seen a book that you desperately WANT to like? Yeah, its TAPE for me. I'm big at books that includes music and/or time traveling plot. This one doesn't have the music aspect, but the time traveling (sort of) aspect is very much present.

Ameliah and Ryan is connected more than a tape. Ameliah is from 2013 and Ryan is from 1993. But they found a way to talk to each other.. and how is that? I DO NOT KNOW BECAUSE IT WASN'T EXPLAINED VERY WELL. IT MUST BE MAGIC. Anyway, the bigger question here is.. What's the connection between Ameliah and Ryan??

I was close to the middle part when I already figured it out! I know, I'm smart like that! or.... maybe the book is just too dull to keep me guessing. Or..... the book is too predictable. I was so tempted to DnF this but I promised myself to play nice to books now. I don't wanna DNF BOOKS ANYMORE AND I want to be a changed Book Reviewer. HA. So as a result, I WAS BORED to tears.

First of all, it was really slow to start. Like, I know we have to be introduced to the characters, but seriously..we have to get passed that! The characters, even though they did nothing but blab out their life to me, I still feel unattached to them. I ACTUALLY FORGOT THEIR NAMES while I was reading it.


The romance was not believable at all. OF COURSE, its insta-love. They met, had an eye contact and suddenly they're soulmates???????



And as I mentioned above, the plot itself was not explained thoroughly. There's a lot of unanswered stuff that really bothered me. And yeah, I WAS NOT SATISFIED.

Hmmm, TAPE has 3 good things though:

1. The cover has Tape in it. SEE?
2. The cover is yellow.
3. The cover is yellow... and HAS A TAPE IN IT.

Profile Image for Anja.
115 reviews
June 18, 2015
OK, so I almost put it down after only one chapter. I didn't. Obviously.

The thing that really, REALLY annoyed me in the beginning was the lack of quotation marks. SO annoying! There are only these stupid dashes instead, and at first that was SO confusing. Here's an example:

- Blah blah blah, said Ryan. Blah blah blah?

I thought the dash symbolises the speach, right? But the 'said Ryan' part is right in the middle of it and it is not separated from the speach properly. You'll know what I mean when you read it yourself. Confuuusing and anooooying. At least at first. Later it turned out not be such a problem really. But still!

What also annoyed me was the style of writing. It sounded like written for small children at times. Especially Ameliah's parts (written in the present tense and NO first-person narrator, a combination I do not like.)

Oh, another thing that annoyed me: They all constantly puffed out their cheeks. Meeeh.

But other than that it was quite nice. The idea of the story was wonderful and sweet and I'm glad I kept reading it. Maybe I would've given 'Tape' 5 stars, IF it hadn't been that annoying :D bad luck...
Profile Image for bibliophoenix.
358 reviews15 followers
October 31, 2013
This book would probably be more interesting for the audience it's targetted at: kids.

I liked the concept and loved the way the book has been designed (front & back cover drawn as the outline of a cassette tape. But personally, I found the story was dragging a bit and the writing too simple for my adult brain. I would leave it down to being a children's book but some of my favourites are aimed at children so...

I have two shelves of books waiting to be read so I gave up on this part of the way into the book as I felt I gave it enough chance to grab me.
Profile Image for Noodles78.
254 reviews16 followers
November 11, 2013
I really wanted to like this. I did. I had high hopes that this was going to be any other 'Perks of Being A Wallflower', but sadly it wasn't anywhere close.

Firstly I hated that the book was set in Britain, yet the characters kept saying Mom instead of Mum. It's a small and silly thing but it bugged the hell out of me. That may have been where my willingness to enjoy the story disappeared.

The plot had such potential,yet I found it obvious, and the characters a bit 2d, wooden and dull.

I sooo wanted to like this. I just couldn't.
24 reviews
November 30, 2013
A beautiful debut masterpiece that is both captivating and enchanting. An exciting account of two lives so inexplicably linked that will keep you guessing right the way through! I cannot recommend this book enough it was utterly un-put-downable! I have high hopes that everyone will love it just as much as I did!
Profile Image for Manda.
265 reviews
December 31, 2018
My puppy destroyed this book and I thanked him for the excuse not to finish it. Mr Camden - learn to write dialog. A novel is not a script.
Profile Image for Tia.
24 reviews34 followers
August 17, 2015
*actual rating is 2.5 STARS*

With such an eye-catching cover, Steven Camden’s debut novel falls flat, with a dull story and lacklustre characters, leaving the reader disappointed.

Praise to Steven Camden for creating a beautifully handled novel about grief, loss and family. What makes this story so heart-breaking is the raw emotion portrayed through Ameliah and Ryan. This raw emotion is so poetically written that it’s impossible not to break down in a flood of tears. But, incredibly, Camden has mastered the art in writing a primarily ‘sad’ novel but adding his own intriguing, unique and extremely witty writing style that radiates from the pages.

Tape is a sad book. A book that will have you crying and then laughing out loud within the space of a page.

This book lacks a strong plot which is disappointing. The concept itself, is brilliant, but through its underdevelopment, Tape falls flat being tedious and dull in parts. The characters are mediocre with none of them shining or making a lasting impression. Surprisingly, there isn’t an immediate warmth to either of the main characters, which is odd in a YA book. This is simply through the lack of character development or personality being portrayed. Both Ameliah and Ryan are too ordinary, with their narrative voices sounding too alike.

The characters are what really let Tape down. Because of the lack of plot, the book needs stand out characters to drive the plot forward, ultimately making it more interesting and fascinating for the reader. But, the lack of energy from the characters radiates onto the reader, making them bored.

On a plus, the characters are ‘nice.’ They aren’t really engaging or overly special, but it is refreshing to have seemingly ‘normal’ everyday characters in a YA book – as oppose to over-elaborate misunderstood buffoons we are normally polluted by.

Another downside is the link between Ryan and Ameliah being too obvious, with it being answered in the first 100 pages, therefore making the rest of the book pretty pointless. Tape would be a million times better if the main plot twist wasn’t revealed at the beginning, but slowly and with more layers to make the story deeper and gripping.

However, the worst aspect of this book is the completely unnecessary and weird extra that Camden felt to add towards the end. Having Ryan and Ameliah communicating through the tape is simply odd, it doesn’t make sense and adds nothing to the story.

Tape is a well written novel that truly makes the reader appreciate family and life, but if you’re older than 15, this book isn’t for you.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,670 reviews1,269 followers
August 12, 2016
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley.)
In 1993, 13-year-old Ryan records tapes about his life.
In 2013, 13-year-old Amelia finds some tapes in her grandmother’s spare room, and begins to listen to them, even though the person speaking is too faint for her to hear.
What is the connection between Amelia and Ryan?

This book was just dull. So little happened, and the twist was predictable from the blurb. Not impressed.

Ryan and Amelia were both pretty nothingness characters. All they seemed to do was argue with their friends and moan, and it got old quick.

The storyline was just dull. I mean so little happened it was ridiculous! There was one funny moment, and one slightly interesting moment right at the end, but it so wasn’t worth reading the whole book to get to. Most of the book was just two teenagers moaning!
There was a sort-of twist, but I guessed what it was just from reading the blurb – Amelia is in 2013, Ryan is in 1993, and they are connected by more than a tape. I’ll let you decide if you’ve guessed it too, but just in case

There was one funny moment in there, which was probably the best part of the book for me but otherwise it was slow and boring.

There was another little interesting bit at the end, but it wasn’t exactly brilliant and that was pretty much it.
Overall; dull, slow and predictable.
4 out of 10.
Profile Image for Laura Wilson.
128 reviews
September 23, 2015
The protagonists are 13, so you expect a simpler kind of novel, but I hate it when that happens. 13 year olds are intelligent, they're fantastic, and even if you want to dumb it down for them, this story just never seemed to start. It just dragged from one chapter to another, and not only was it boring, the weird fonts and the way they structured speech just made it a chore to finish.
Profile Image for Faustine.
33 reviews5 followers
October 3, 2015
I'm speechless... in the most disappointed way ever!



I wanted to like love this book so much! The moment I picked up the book and read the synopsis, I immediately wanted to buy it immediately! The book sounded magical and special and the that the cover was so pretty and from the book's synopsis - the book was supposed to be right up my alley!

I bought the book because it sounded special and I've always wanted to read books about tapes BUT not only was the synopsis of the book was misleading, the whole plot in general was kind of messed up and inconclusive.

I don't know, I enjoyed some parts of the book (more only like the beginning of the story before everything gets messed up and crazy) and i've got to say that this story actually got potential but it went in the wrong direction and ended in the wrong direction as well.

Let me enlighten you about my confusion and hatred towards the book's plot: (just picking up the easiest)
Ameliah and Ryan are a decade apart but they can freaking talk to each other through a tape???!!!


Even Sherlock can't help you there.

The story goes back and forth in the most complicated way and it just did not flow smoothly from one era to another. And to make things worse they can communicate with each other???

The flow was slow, the writing style was inconsistent and (sometimes) grammatically incorrect, punctuations missing and overall I was just really bored and mad about everything.

Repeatedly I kept comforting myself that the book will get better and that it's going to have a mind blowing ending or at least an ending that will clear up all my confusion and questions that will make me forgive everything but even with a (relatively predictable) plot twist ending, the book ended on a flat note.


And I did went to get ice cream to comfort my dear self after wanting to throw away this book.
Profile Image for Luise.
342 reviews
December 23, 2015
It started off completely boring. Nothing really happened except from 2 teenies being weird in 2 different times. It was so slow that I had to constantly remind myself, that they are not actually retarded. Just weird and boring. Although, I have to say, Ameliah sometimes showed serious crazy-cat lady qualities...

What also didn't help getting into the story was the choice of quotation marks. What's the problem with simple "blah"? No, it has something weird with a hyphen which made it quite difficult at times to understand a) what belongs to the speech, what not and b) who is talking. I don't know if someone intended to add some "style" to the book, but in my opinion, this totally failed. The tape-y design is style enough.

BUT, if you are willing to endure all this, an actually rather nice story hides behind those pages and pages of grey.

I liked how Ryan and Ameliah's "connection" became clearer step by step through various details that fit together into a big picture. Also, I liked the phone calls where you could guess what's said by the other one.

What really disturbed me was Creepy Joe. Ameliah, didn't anyone responsible for your upbringing ever tell you that you do NOT just go into creepy stranger's houses? Especially not, when you are already suspicious of him? Dubious strangers that try to lure you into their house are usually some sort of psycho killers. And why does an old guy desperately want to spend time with a 13 year-old? Hmmm... But well, fortunately it all clarified towards the end in a really satisfying way.
Profile Image for Sam.
560 reviews50 followers
October 5, 2015
I got to almost 120 pages and skipped to read the final chapter. I had a feeling I knew what was going on, so I decided to skip to the end and find out, and I was right.

The writing and story was very simple, and I didn't like the dashes instead of talking marks for dialogue. I liked the idea behind the story , but it wasn't executed very well. For these reasons I didn't read the whole book, only the start and the end.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,250 reviews187 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 16, 2014

The synopsis for this book sounds great which is what drew me to the book, but after trying to make my way through this I've decided I can't finish it.

The constant changing between past and present without notice is confusing and distracting, especially the amount of times it's changed each chapter. I also did not like the layout of the book and how it reads.
Profile Image for Breanna.
3 reviews
September 17, 2022
literally dnf, after seeing the reviews I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. However, after reading a good 200 pages it didn’t improve. The way it was written baffles me and I just couldn’t grasp the idea of it. I’m sure anyone who is way younger than me would tolerate it, as it seems to honk referencing poo every 5 seconds is “hilarious”. I’m sorry but unless you are like 12 it isn’t even tolerable.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,058 reviews79 followers
April 24, 2016
Sometimes I dig into some books because I felt like it, sometimes because someone felt like it or other times because I need to complete a challenge and I do by reading it. But mostly because I felt like it, although I like that my challenges numbers are growing. I'm being serious when I said that I really felt like reading this book, but when I did... I just wanted to stop, but I did not.

Lately, my young adult books have been about loss and having the kind of end that it isn't happy at all. I'm very empathic and even though I know, because believe me I know, that the characters aren't real, that the story isn't real, it gets me. That is actually what happened with this book. Two stories that meet each other at some point. A tape that comes from the past to resolve the present and posible future. 1993, Ryan Wilson telling the story how he met a girl, how his father married and brought his new wife and stepson to live with them and exactly how moving on he was after his mother's dead. 2013, Ameliah hearing that story and finding out how everything connects. After her mother passing after a car accident and then his father passing away of cancer, Ameliah is left with her Nan, but basically alone is figuring out what is happening inside her emotions.

I'm afraid that I cannot tell you more, because it actually spoils the mystery of the book. Me finding out everything chapter by chapter had me in bed all day reading it all. The book is short, but it most be read slowly, because if not you will miss something important and you will be lost. The story is told in some way that I liked, but did not understood all of it most of the time. Everything about this book is to show how you feel, because no one will judge you and if they do, they aren't feeling. Feeling is human. Grief is human. But so is moving on, you will never forget because that's not the idea, but people must move on. That is exactly what I captured from this book.

If you are feeling down, don't read this book. If you are feeling happy, don't read this book. Whatever feeling you are having, do not read it because of it. Read it because you felt like it.
Profile Image for Jana.
1,419 reviews86 followers
December 8, 2015
Still undecided whether to rate this 4.5 or 5 stars.

I received a free copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tape is a young adult contemporary novel about two protagonists: Ryan is thirteen years old in 1997. His mother has died, and now his father's new wife and her son have moved into his house. Ameliah is thirteen years old in 2013, her parents have both died, she lives with her grandmother, and has just begun to go through her parents old stuff: guitars, cassettes and the like. There is a connection between the two, but what is it?

I don't know where to start. I was drawn in from the very first page, the prologue. It was captivating and beautifully written and definitely very intriguing. The writing was very enchanting anyway, I really enjoyed it and found it to be very beautiful and it gave the whole story a very nice charm. I was equally into both storylines and eager to find out what the connection was going to be. I guessed it shortly after the halfway point, but that did not take away from my reading experience at all. I still was very invested and engaged in the story and the characters and wanted only the best for them. I'm a huge sucker for vintage stuff like cassettes, vinyl and so on, so that just added even more to the story. It was a great read, good enough for me to want to get a physical copy of this. I just really, really enjoyed it.

Would recommend this book for fans of Landline, Eleanor & Park or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Profile Image for Jasmin Moore.
6 reviews
May 17, 2015
Okay so I really liked this book, the only thing that stopped me from giving it 5/5 was how slow it was and how nothing really happens until half way through.

Once you get past that the suspension starts to build as you have all these unanswered questions and then it's like BOOM PLOT TWIST!

After I found out who joe was I pretty much didn't stop crying until the book ended, it was both beautiful and tragic but I really loved the extra twist at the end with ameliah and ryan. It's such a unique story line and I honestly didn't expect it to end like that.

I hope the universe has a lot in store for ameliah and malik!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
81 reviews4 followers
November 3, 2015
I really enjoyed this book, as the story progressed, you could see the link between the two characters becoming more evident, and it's not until about 2/3 of the way into the book that the penny dropped. I had thought that there was the possibility that Ryan was Ameliah's dad from the start, and then as I worked my way through the book, it started to become more realistic. The twist at the end with Joe turning out to be Nathan was fantastic, and I have throughly enjoyed the book, I would definitely recommend it to everyone and anyone!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tina.
454 reviews
March 24, 2016
Well. I'm sorry to say, but I found this book incredibly dull. It had a kind of good-ish peak in the last 30-40 pages, but mostly I was bored by the mechanical descriptions of characters doing stuff. There was a profound lack of whatever it's that happens between the lines in other books when characters are doing nothing but it's still an interesting read. Also the punchline in the plot was obvious after the first two chapters, so the reading was mostly about reaffirming that my suspicions had been right all along.
Profile Image for Mirthe.
73 reviews39 followers
August 19, 2020
The story is kind of predictable, but it's nice. The way the story is written kind of irritated me. Because you switch character multiple times within a chapter, I didn't really feel connected to them.
Profile Image for Aria ・❥・Biblioaria ˚ · ..
634 reviews1,311 followers
December 29, 2014
I tried to finish it, but there was something about the way it was written that bothered me. I am going to be honest, I skimmed to the last part of the book and was extremely surprised that I was right.
Profile Image for Jo.
66 reviews
October 8, 2019
Easily the worst book I've ever read. No idea why I didn't give up. I definitely wasn't the target audience but that's still no defence! The writing was appalling, at points I had to read it out loud to my husband for a laugh it was so bad.
Profile Image for Patricia.
40 reviews
October 13, 2015
I would actually give it 4.5 because for me it was too detailed but everything else was absolutly wonderful!♥️♥️
Profile Image for Stella.
9 reviews
April 24, 2018
Ok, I wanted to like this book but when you read a book and are freaking bored before the first chapter even ends, then it isn’t really promising.
I wanted to like this book because I like books about time travel.

I literally gave up on this book on page 50 and didn’t even glance at it again.

The lack of quotation marks really ticks me off. Aren’t authors supposed to know proper grammar and punctuation?

Profile Image for Chitra Ahanthem.
395 reviews155 followers
February 5, 2018
Tape is a simple enough story of two 13 yr olds Ryan and Ameliah who are trying to deal with life and about things that are meant to be.The narrative goes back and forth between Ryan and Ameliah with no hurry to force plot twists but with the tape playing a significant part.There is a charm in this but it also means having to struggle through the first 100 pages as the reader can get impatient.The different fonts used for the two protagonists is a bit distracting considering thst the chapters are very brief. But overall, if one can stick with it, Tape is a sweet story that gives you a warm nice feeling by the time it ends. I would rate it at 3 and a half stars out of 5
Profile Image for Penny Park.
89 reviews5 followers
January 10, 2021
This book was actually quite good, I don’t know why it took me so long to read. The last 60 pages were great.
10 reviews
November 28, 2022
Felt like a low budget American teen series. Glad that it is over, looking for positives and all that comes to mind is that it will make the good books feel even better.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 410 reviews

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