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The Brightsiders

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A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde's quirky and utterly relatable novel.

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck.

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

297 pages, Hardcover

First published May 22, 2018

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About the author

Jen Wilde

10 books712 followers
Jen Wilde (she/they) is the queer, disabled author of QUEENS OF GEEK, THE BRIGHTSIDERS and GOING OFF SCRIPT.

They write unapologetically queer stories about unlikely heroes, awkward romantics and chosen families. Jen’s books have been praised in Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle, Vulture and Bustle. Their debut, QUEENS OF GEEK, made the 2018 Rainbow Book List and the Amelia Bloomer List.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Jen lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her wife, where she collects books, candles and foster cats. When she isn’t writing, Jen spends her time shouting about queer books on TikTok.

Connect with her online @jenwildebooks or visit her website: jenwildebooks.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 504 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,865 reviews54.3k followers
April 17, 2018
Oh, boy.

I know this is my unending refrain, but I really wanted to like this book. Even though I didn’t expect to.

Unfortunately, I was prevented. By exciting stuff, like drama so unrelenting and pain-inducing that it gave me icepick migraines. You know, those really fun ones that feel like someone is stabbing you above the eye? Yeah.

But let’s talk about good stuff first.

The main main main amazing triumphant life-changing world-turning Good Thing is what Jen Wilde seems to do best (judging by the very limited sample of her two books): diversity. The main character in The Brightsiders is a bisexual female. Side characters include a gender nonconforming African American who uses they/them/theirs; a pansexual love interest who transitioned from biologically female to genderqueer and uses he/him/his; an Asian boy who comes out as bi; two lesbian females; and a bi female.

The representation is so, so, so good. It, on its own, pretty much salvages what would have been a pretty bad read for me.

Additionally, this book does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and it is miraculous how wonderful and right and natural it feels: no pronouns are assumed. For example, when The Brightsiders are performing, a concert attendee is described as a “person in a yellow dress.” Gender identity not assumed based on garb or appearance.

It’s so, so, so good.

But alas, though that is the Biggest Good Thing I am capable of imagining, it is also the only good thing. Outside of some pretty okay character development...but the character development is much needed. Because these people are garbage monsters.

Mainly, I have the same problems with this book as I did with Queens of Geek. It just reads as kind of amateurish. Fanfiction-y. (Which isn’t to say fanfiction can’t be good and professional and polished - but my experience with fanfiction is limited to what was available in 2011-2012 in the genre of “normal teenage girl onto whom I can project myself meets and promptly falls in love with male teen pop sensation.”)

This Justin Bieber fanfiction-esque style reveals itself in a series of ways:

- selfish/immature characters motivated by romance (cough, or sex, cough) exclusively

- an unbelievable level of drama

- tabloids/paparazzi as main motivators of action

- multiple publicized breakdowns

- unrealistic inherently bad characters (especially ex-girlfriend and parents)

- an astonishing lack of focus on music, which is wild because The Brightsiders is a band made up of the main characters

- never-before-mentioned people with no dialogue mentioned as “friends”

- very questionable decision making

I’ll keep reading Jen Wilde books, because I think she literally started out writing fanfiction? Maybe? And thus maybe these qualities will fade from her writing. Either way, the diversity and representation are too good to pass up on.

Bottom line: Not for me, except for wowowowowow that diversity wow. Also: maybe for you!
Thanks to Macmillan/Swoon Reads for the ARC! This book is out May 22.
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,061 followers
January 1, 2019
reading this book with phrases like “fave people” and “hashtag blessed” was very disconcerting after reading Six of Crows where a character ripped out someone’s eyeball and I liked it a lot more than I expected!
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
622 reviews625 followers
February 22, 2019
hardcover of the brightsiders

This is the kind of queer book I was waiting for. If you’re still looking for something super diverse to read during Pride Month.. THIS IS IT! Please pick it up 🌈💜

I've been thinking about some more thoughts to write about this for over a week now but I just honestly am so deeply in love with this, that I don't even know what to tell you. Like it's one of those books.
I definitely wanna tell you what diversity is featured in here. I tried to catch as much as possible but I might have missed some!
The main character Emmy is a bisexual girl. Her love interest Alfie is genderqueer and pansexual and has social anxiety. And then we also have Em's best friend Chloe who is non-binary and biracial. I think it is only ever mentioned that one of their parents is black. There's a lot more queer side-characters but these are kinda the characters that are in focus.

In general this book is just so unapologetically queer. Especially seeing this aspect of queer musicians inspiring their queer audience and all of them just being so fucking queer together. It made my heart burst with all the rainbows.

I keep forgetting all the amazing aspects I wanted to mention but here are just some of the other things I really enjoyed:
+ songwriting and how important it can be as a tool for emotional healing, expression etc
+ alcohol abuse which does not get talked about enough in YA which is ridiculous, considering how many teens this affects
+ toxic romantic relationships and emotionally abusive parents/gaslighting
+ fame and paparazzi, especially in times of social media which was just really interesting and something I rarely read about

I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH 🌈🌈🌈 And all of this is packed into just 300 pages? Jen Wilde is so fucking amazing.


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Profile Image for Emily.
37 reviews184 followers
July 11, 2022
There’s definitely a diversity of rep here but unfortunately this really was not for me. It read as much too young for me personally so I imagine would likely be best for teens, though be mindful if recommending it does deal with underage drinking/emotionally manipulative family and exes/parental negligence/sex etc. I am always prepared to suspend my disbelief, especially when it comes to celebrity romances, and I typically enjoy the heightened sense of drama. But there really just wasn’t much realism here. I came more for the musician aspect and while it definitely deals with fame and media attention, I felt the actual band part was really lacking. Not only is the music sidelined (and not that great when it’s there), but they get told out of the clear blue by their manager that they’re nominated for a Grammy. They haven’t been anxiously awaiting this announcement or anything. They haven’t been hopeful or curious or even interested about how the nominations will turn out. They haven’t even mentioned it. The Grammys are brought up for the first time when they get told about their nomination. In a casual conversation. In chapter 35. I can’t imagine any artist of their supposed level of fame - whether they believed they were likely to be nominated or not - wouldn’t be keeping up with that kind of news. It’s such a massive milestone that just feels severely underplayed. I also don’t think all of the references in this have aged/will age particularly well and there were a lot of HP ones which I was not expecting. Ultimately, if nothing else, it has lots of LGBTQ+ rep and discussions of mental health (pro-therapy and talk of medication, which is great) but it really just wasn’t for me.
Profile Image for Megan.
1,225 reviews71 followers
July 9, 2018
1.5 stars.

✔️ The cover
✔️ The premise
✔️ The diversity- seriously, there's an incredible amount of gender, sexual and racial diversity in these characters
✔️ It's short

✖️ The writing
✖️ No seriously
✖️ It was bad
✖️ And felt ridiculously amateurish
✖️ And immature, like dude, I know they're teenagers bUT COME ON
✖️ The way Wilde explained all the diversity and some of Emmy's choices about hair and make up felt... ""preachy""
✖️ Like I totally get the message about wanting to look the way you do re: make up and hair colour for yourself and for no one else, like cool, you do you, mate
✖️ But don't explain it to me in a heavy handed manner like I'm an 8 year old
✖️ There's also a ridiculous amount of UNNECESSARY drama and cliches abound on every page
✖️ Emmy was.... boring... and also kinda stupid?
✖️ And Wilde tried to make her parents so "bad" and "horrible" that their characters felt like laughable cartoons of actual people
✖️ This actually wasn't as interesting as it sounds
✖️ Or could have been
✖️ In fact it was pretty boring
✖️ I can't believe I wasted time on this
✖️ Don't read it
✖️ Pick up Alice Oseman's I Was Born For This instead
✖️ I promise it's so much better
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,010 reviews4,138 followers
May 27, 2018
Trigger warnings: Emotional manipulation, alcoholism, parental abuse

Jen Wilde does best when she writes wonderfully diverse characters who are the norm - The Brightsiders features characters who are bisexual, gender fluid, lesbian and also biracial. Although Emmy King is a famous teenage rockstar, with an immense talent for the drums and with legions of fans from all over the world, there was an element of her that felt so real. Having had neglectful parents for her whole life, and being in an abusive relationship, she has an immense need to be liked and loved for who she is.

Reading Emmy King's story was a bit tough at times - she withstands terrible treatment from her parents, girlfriend but also the media at times. This is a story about her finding her self worth and a supportive group of people outside of her blood - especially when the people who should be looking after her, treat her like trash. When you think she has things sorted out - the same people will come for her and throw a spanner in the works, and it was hard to see her deal with this abuse. However, the book does center on a romance with one of her close friends, which eases this element of the book.

First and foremost, I would probably call this a contemporary romance book, which is part of the reason why I rated it 3 stars. While I'm certainly not in the target audience for a YA book, this felt a bit like it is for the younger YA audience. The romance does tend to overwhelm the book with all of Emmy's demons from the past, and it really focuses on her coming of age and finding herself. There is definitely more at stake with Emmy's life as well, especially with the person that she is pursuing, as she deals with confusing feelings with the love interest.

It's also heavy on the rock star angle - there are some moments where she's rocking it out in front of her fans, dealing with paparazzi or hanging with her band mates and posting it on all forms of social media.

The Brightsiders shows that no matter how famous you are, or how many fans you might have - the problems that you have are still the same as everyone else. It's a fun, adorable and quick read with queer identities woven naturally throughout the story - where it's just the norm, which is fantastic.

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

Check out Happy Indulgence Books for more reviews!
Profile Image for kav (xreadingsolacex).
177 reviews345 followers
May 14, 2018
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my review.


The Brightsiders is a young-adult contemporary novel about a teen drummer, Emmy King, who is branded as the media's latest trainwreck.

Wilde really outdid herself with this novel.

An unapologetically queer novel that tackles a multitude of important subjects, The Brightsiders is just another step up from Queens of Geek, Wilde's last novel which was also one of my favorites and whose main characters make multiple cameos in this novel.

Our main character, Emmy, is a badass bisexual teen with drinking problems that partially stem from her abusive parents and her abusive ex-girlfriend.

Our love interest, Alfie, another member of The Brightsiders, is a pansexual genderqueer teen with social anxiety disorder who is Emmy's best friend-turned-lover.

Then, there's the last member of The Brightsiders, Ryan, a Korean-American bisexual ball of fluff and Emmy's best friend Chloe, a black genderqueer queen.

One of the most casually diverse casts, every single character in this novel was created brilliantly and morphed perfectly into their place in the story. The discussions of queerness, biphobic behavior, misgendering, and the casual use of they/them pronouns are just some of the many highlights to the representation in this novel. And though the discussion of Alfie's social anxiety isn't central to the narrative, that representation was also done spectacularly.

Then, The Brightsiders is a novel that has to tackle both the famous aspect of these band members lives as well as their more accessible “real” lives. I genuinely think that Wilde approached the fame of these characters so well, there is something so unique to this novel and that definitely comes from them being part of a famous band which was done so well.

And as for the more “real” aspects, those were essentially perfect. The overarching arc of Emmy's story and how she has to deal with so much shit from people who are supposed to love her is done so well. Though Emmy comes from a horrible family, she has her amazing friends to lean back on and Wilde's creation of these different relationships was one of the highlights of this novel.

Speaking of relationships, the romance between Emmy and Alfie is so steamy and swoon-worthy and I would sacrifice myself to let them be together.

Overall, The Brightsiders was perfection in every way. Both accessible and unique, funny and deep, I adored this novel with all my heart and would definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,393 followers
August 27, 2018
Trigger Warnings: biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, emotional manipulation, abuse, underage drinking, drug mentions


The Brightsiders was another book I picked up on a whim. I didn’t expect a lot since I hadn’t enjoyed Queens of Geek. This book was one that I was definitely enjoying more than the author's debut. I was totally into the world and wanting to get to know the punk rock bad main characters more. It was also beautifully diverse, with almost no character that was straight. A teen rock band being plunged into fame was the kind of story I would have died to read when I was younger, especially since this one did show parental manipulation and substance abuse.

However, the plot of The Brightsiders really fizzled out around the 40% mark. I became incredibly romance heavy that I don’t hate but I didn’t feel the connection between the characters. I’ve talked about this in other reviews but I don’t really like friends to lovers tropes, I feel that too much of the connection is made off page and makes me slightly frustrated because I want to love the couple. I would still recommend this book because it is very diverse and a very good look at sexuality and messy family dynamics. It just wasn’t for me. If you love a character driven book I recommend this book even more highly! I love plot, so that is mainly why this fell short for me I feel.

Profile Image for Anniek.
1,860 reviews687 followers
April 26, 2022
While I wasn't expecting to click with this book as much as I did with Queens of Geek, I definitely did enjoy it! However, it did seem to lack some depth, which made it a bit difficult to really stick with the main character throughout the book, and especially the ending felt a little too quickly wrapped up. This was a bit of a shame to me, because I did like the characters and so I would have loved to get to know them better. Both the topic and the main characters reminded me of Alice Oseman's new release I Was Born For This a lot, and that one just spoke to me more. I was happy to see a cameo from the Queens of Geek characters however, and I loved all the LGBTQ+ rep!
Profile Image for Romie.
1,093 reviews1,269 followers
November 24, 2018
All I have to say is, don't mess up with the girl wearing purple lipstick.

details about the different representations:
Emmy: she/her, bisexual, drinking problems
Alfie: he/him, genderqueer, pansexual, social anxiety
Ryan: he/him, first generation Korean-American, bisexual
Chloe: they/them, biracial, black, genderqueer

Profile Image for L.C. Laurent.
Author 1 book9 followers
September 10, 2018

Page 154. That’s how far I was able to make it before I had to pause and just start a review. I will be finishing this book so that I can have a complete opinion on it, but this was the point where my disbelief could no longer be suspended. It’s funny to think about what small seemingly insignificant thing can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but this is what did it for me: strawberries and maple syrup. That sounds so light, so, so obviously normal doesn’t it?

Through reading The Brightsiders, I have had to stop and put the book down and work out my irritation. Just when the book starts to find a track to go down, it has to make a pit stop at ‘quirk avenue: population everyone that isn’t you’. I just- It’s so frustrating to me. I get it, I get that quirky is the new ‘cool’, and that being ‘normal’ is ‘so lame’, but if you’re going to be quirky then at least be quirky.

I’m going to be paraphrasing so that I won’t just be straight copying words out of a book, but if you want to see for yourself then pick up the hard copy and go to page 153 into 154 and you’ll be able to read it for yourself.

The protagonist, Em/Emmy, sits down to breakfast with fruit and pancakes, eats some pancakes with syrup, and then dips a strawberry in her syrup and eats it. And then, and then, a friend of hers at the table says that’s gross and weird. What? I’m sorry...I’m sorry, what? If it was just that one person then maybe I’d think, ‘ok, they’re just picky or it’s just not for them, etc.’, buuuut no. Nope, everyone at the table thinks it’s soooo weird. Another character decides to try it, dips a strawberry in syrup and, I’m not kidding here, smells it, as if strawberries and syrup would make the most odd scent imaginable, and then eats it and -GASP- it tastes good??? What??? And then another character tries it and, again I’m not kidding here, sounds like they’re having an orgasm from tasting how good it is (the word ‘orgasmic’ is literally used). And then the ‘normal guy’ in this scenario that called it out for being ‘gross and weird’ is like ‘wow you are some weird people’ and they all are so proud of themselves.

I...I don’t...I don’t have words for this. I can’t understand this. Strawberries and syrup taste good together? Who would have thought that in a society where we often put strawberries on our pancakes that the syrup would actually taste good on them? What a crazy thought! This just in, french fries are good in ketchup! What was the point of this? What did we learn? That this band that’s literally toured the world has never heard of a concept so craaaazy and wild as strawberries with syrup????

Ok I know this sounds like something to go overboard for, but that’s only because of the preceding 152 pages of tropey quirky fake schlopp I’ve had to wade through to find anything that makes this book worth finishing.

The Brightsiders. How does one properly start a review on The Brightsiders? I guess with the positives. Now, this is the portion of the review where I haven’t finished the book yet, so keep in mind I’m only discussing up to page 154 which is just past the middle mark. As of now I can’t really think of a lot of huge positives since they all kind of play into some of the negatives, but I’ll list what I’ve got:
Racial Diversity
LGBT+ Diversity
A simple, but cute plot

And honestly...That’s about it. Those still lead into negatives, but objectively they are good things about the book. Now, into the negatives, from what I’ve read so far.

LGBT+ Representation: Alright, from what I can see the writer is part of the community, and that’s great, but being a part of the community doesn’t necessarily mean that you can instantly represent so many facets well. I’m not saying that these characters don’t seem accurate, they do, it’s more how they’re portrayed.

This book reads about LGBT+ like it’s something to be explained. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t need explained. In a book where everything is exposition, you have to rely on ‘show, don’t tell’, and this book does the opposite: it overly explains and overly explains, to the point of pulling away from the plot to do so. This isn’t necessary. You aren’t writing a thesis on LGBT+ life, you’re writing first person POV fiction. Books like Leah on the Off Beat and Simon Vs. the Homosapien Agenda manage this very well.

Let me put it this way, if you, the reader of this review, came in contact with one of your friends to hang out with them, are you instantly going to think of every label about them you can and then explain it to yourself? No, you wouldn’t, because humans don’t do that.

I too am part of the LGBT+ community, and while I don’t speak for the community, I can speak to realism. I have many, many friends that are part of this community as is common with most LGBT+ individuals, but I don’t go up to my gay friend and think, “Oh, there’s my friend. He’s gay. And that means he likes boys, and that’s just swell.” or, “There’s my asexual friend. She’s just fantastic. Also, asexual is-actually, no, I would not try to define asexuality in a wrapped up sentence because it is so diverse and I, a mere pansexual transgender mortal, cannot possibly explain it all in one sentence.” For that matter, I’m also not going to go up to my other transgender friends and be like “Oh there are my transgender buddies, transgender is so neat and awesome and super special amazing and it means that you don’t feel right in your body and isn’t that just the worst? My gosh I just can’t think of anything else when I see my friends except for the labels surrounding them.” How about...tell me if they’re funny? Or cranky? How long have you known them? Make me care about these characters!

I will admit that in the first chapter when I saw a non binary character I literally gasped in excitement because I’d never seen that representation in YA literature before. But as the book went on, these characters became more like posters than actual characters. I felt like the writer was trying to shoehorn every letter of LGBT+ so as not to leave anyone out. And honestly, some of the way it’s portrayed is kind of offensive.

For instance, when we first learn that Alfie is gender fluid, Em goes on to say that she didn’t understand it at first and had to do a lot of research. Which is fine, this is something she had to actually work towards to normalize for herself. The issue is how that is portrayed, she literally says something to the effect of ‘all that gender binary bullshit’. Alright, this is where it got offensive to me. I’m not claiming that everything is binary, but different things work for different people. By this I mean, for a non binary individual, or even a gender fluid individual, there is not necessarily a binary for them. But that’s the point: for them. For many others, including transgender individuals like myself, binary can be and often is a very real thing. The experience is different for everyone, so it’s fine to support your fluid or non binary friends because in their case there is no binary, but for others there is a binary. This character claims to be bisexual, but they don’t even understand the basics of what it means to be binary or non. Maybe she’s actually pansexual? I’m not sure. But for cisgender people and even many transgender people, the binary is very real, so to discount it as ‘bullshit’ is to alienate that side of your audience while also taking a step back from the ‘open mindedness’ you’re trying to show. This is very much the Tumblr mindset of bullying something because it’s not your norm. (come for me Tumblr, I really don’t care)

Which brings me to another point. I really think this author is scared Tumblr is coming for them, because they treat everything like they’re scared they’ll get yelled at for leaving something out. The book reads like a ‘how to’ guide to LGBT+, and less like an actual story with LGBT+ characters. Especially when every time they mention the community they say: LGBTQIAP+. I don’t know a single person who uses that outside of term papers. It’s distracting and unrealistic, most just say LGBT, or LGBTQ, or LGBT+ etc, not half the damn alphabet.

To be honest, I could write an entire thesis on just the negatives when it comes to LGBT+ and how it’s handled in this book, but let’s move on.

Racial Diversity: I actually really love that we have a lot of racial diversity here (not for the leads of course, because that’d just be TOO diverse wouldn’t it?), but again, it’s treated as a soapbox. Which really is ironic considering Chloe, Em’s femme non binary friend (this is how the book describes them so it is what I will be using, ‘femme non binary’.). We meet Chloe and they’re described as black (literally, she uses the word black when describing them). But then we learn, wait no Chloe isn’t black, they’re actually biracial And Chloe’s mother is, I’m not kidding, described as *ahem* ‘Tall skinny white blonde’. You can’t make this stuff up, the writer literally put in a straw man for this book. The easiest Tumblr target possible.

And we learn that Chloe’s father was black and then their parents got divorced when they were five and the dad left (because that’s not offensive and tropey: an African American father ditching his family, ouch). So Chloe is left to be raised by their mother. Who, all of a sudden, decides she is racist and hates black people and doesn’t accept Chloe for being half African American AND non binary, so only puts up with them to prove that she’s not racist (but I have black friends! argument). This-This doesn’t happen! This doesn’t happen in real life! What parent raises their biracial child with their differently raced father for five years and then wakes up one day and now hates said race? That doesn’t happen! You literally made the stereotypical Tumblr strawman for your book!: white, presumably cisgender, tall, skinny, blonde.

The Asian characters are treated like the two most basic Western entertainment tropes: weird, and sex object. Insulting. Just because you have a diverse cast doesn’t save you from being horribly offensive to the races being portrayed.

Music Ignorance: By this point in the review I’ve made it to page 238, and again, I had to stop. I wanted to wait to continue my review until I was finished with the book completely, but unfortunately I was getting physically ill and HAD to stop. For a book that’s meant to be showcasing musical artists and a world famous band, it’s clear that this author is very ignorant to both the music industry, and just music history and culture. Like quirkiness, I don’t mind if characters are ‘hipsters’ with music, but you have to make them actual hipsters. Make up bands that no one has heard of, or reference bands that are very indie and little known. But you cannot reference names such as Bowie, DAVID BOWIE, and have the pretentiousness to have your characters say ‘We were the only kids in our school that had even heard of David Bowie.’ That is a bold faced lie, you could jump into any high school or middle school right now and find tons of kids that know who this man is. Other bands that were mentioned as ‘only them knowing’ are names like Green Day...GREEN DAY STILL PERFORMS AND TEENS STILL KNOW WHO THEY ARE. Also, they were ‘the only kids in school to know all the words to Blink 182’s ‘All the Small Things’ ‘ WHAT. Are you kidding me right now? Arguably their most popular song that is STILL used for internet memes, and you expect me to believe that no teenagers know that song? You have to be high, or this has to be set in the year 2300.

Ok listen, if you want your characters to be ‘quirky and cool and hip and know so much classic rock -cough Green Day isn’t classic rock cough-’, then actually DO that. It’s truly amazing that an author would choose some of the most well known bands of all time and claim that kids today just ‘won’t know who they are’. Was this a way to make the reader feel like they were special? ‘Hey young reader, you like Green Day and David Bowie? That makes you special because no one else does! Even though literally EVERYONE else knows who they are!’ It’s a sad attempt and insults the intelligence of the reader. And on top of that, it insults the actual impact that the artists did leave in music history, especially the late David Bowie.

When it comes to the music itself, I’ll say it: the lyrics are terrible. Some people can write poetry, and some people can’t. These lyrics are the sappiest most ballad laden lyrics, and they aren’t good, but that’s not even the entire point. This band is said to be (again, told, not shown) punk rock, but they are shown to be (for once actually shown) pop, maybe alternative at the absolute most. These are not punk rock lyrics, here’s a sample:

I think you’re flirting with that grin
I think I’m flirting too
You won my heart
When you held my hand
When you call me around
I can’t get there fast enough
You wait for me at the door
Arms open when I show up
It’s all new, this feelin’ and me
Never felt this, about anyone

Yeah, can’t you just imagine Green Day, Rufio, Breathe Carolina, We Came as Romans or Paramore singing that? No? Me neither. And every damn song that we are shown is like that. Why did you make them ‘punk rock’ ? They aren’t, they aren’t even pop punk. Aesthetically I will say, they dress that way, but that’s style, not music. Music isn’t just about what you look like, it’s how you sound. Avril Lavigne is a good mainstream example of pop punk, this band doesn’t even come close to that. Where is the anger? Aggression? Rawness? Where? Just make them pop with punk clothing styles, geez.

As for the music industry itself, this book is not an accurate portrayal of how it actually works. And if you don’t want to do that, then don’t write a book showing what it’s like to be a ‘rock star’. Panic! At the Disco, the poster child for ‘overnight fame’ did not even get on World Tour status as fast as these children did. And no offense, but they were much better than The Brightsiders as far as lyrics are concerned (seriously the lyrics in this book make me gag and cringe and I feel embarrassed for the characters). No matter how much I’ve read, I cannot suspend my disbelief long enough to choke down that these kids are as good as I’m being told (not shown) they are, and that they rocketed so success this fast simply from winning Battle of the Bands (not kidding).

It’s portrayed as if their LGBT+ status is why they’re so popular. That is ALSO insulting, especially when actual GOOD LGBT+ artists such as Troye Sivan have been climbing and climbing to get where they are now, WHILE having a strong social media presence, and didn’t get as successful as these children. Let me let you in on a little secret, being LGBT+ doesn’t boost your music career, in ‘the biz’, it actually hurts you and you’re highly discriminated against by the people in charge. It’s a lot of work and stress, you have to put that work in, not just win Battle of the Bands. This is such an insult to actual LGBT+ artists that have had to claw their way to the top out of the discrimination pool.

And one of my least favorite Tumblr ‘and then they all clapped’ moments, was when they walk up to a band they opened for ‘back in the day’, and of course that band had turned into jerks. Why wouldn’t they be? Gosh it was such a ‘and then everybody clapped’ story. You know the ones, when someone says a story happened to them on Tumblr that you know didn’t happen and their story ends with, ‘and then they all clapped for me!’. Yeah, that’s this book in a nutshell.

Em/Emmy - I want to like this character, I really do, but she is the definition of a Mary Sue. Anything she does aside from the drinking incident at the beginning, is completely swept under the rug. Nothing is ever her fault, it’s always because of someone else. When she should be feeling guilty about her stupid decisions, she’s instead hugged and snuggled and told that she’s right. I feel like I’m stuck inside Tumblr, like when a user with a million followers says something like ‘I’m sad today, I didn’t get my homework done in time T_T’ and then you see a billion notes that are like ‘it’s ok babeh! You’ll be fine, you’re beautiful! Homework is just part of the establishment!’ Ugh. This character has no growth. I guess you can say she handles her alcoholism, but it’s downplayed so much and does not show an accurate struggle of a recovering alcoholic. She doesn’t go to rehab, she’s just got ‘real good pals’. Please. If you want to tackle something like addiction, then don’t belittle the actual struggle that people go through. Again I’m reminded of dumb internet things like ‘you don’t need pills for depression, just go outside!’ Ugh. This character. I will say that she loves her fans and I do feel that. It’s probably the only human thing about her. She plays like a fanfiction character that can do no wrong and just-I can’t continue on with her, we have more characters to get to.
Alfie - I actually liked Alfie, I don’t like that the writer can only describe his face in two ways: suggestive, or smirk. Which is fair since all Em can do is ‘whine’ or ‘swoon’. Ugh. Anyways, back to Alfie. He’s actually done very well and I love that a gender fluid character is front and center for a book. He’s an awesome love interest, and I actually do buy that he and Em have a thing for each other. His stress/anxiety disorder was very well done and I liked that it brought light to something so many people struggle with in a way that was well presented, but not in your face obnoxious.
Ryan - He’s ‘the weird Asian gay friend’. Sadly that’s all I can say, he was very underdeveloped and fell into the same unfortunate tropes that most Asian characters are lumped with in Western entertainment. Ryan deserved more.
Chloe - In my opinion they’re a well done representation of a non binary person, so for that I’ll give praise. But everything else about this character is tired and cliche: tragic backstory that no one would ever actually believe, black no biracial no black no gosh darnit what’s more edgy right now what can i shoehorn in ok nevermind biracial, a ‘yes’ person, feels more like a prop than a human, unrealistic YouTube fame.
The Parents - The award to most unrealistic villain goes to these two suckers. I’m not saying that parents can’t be like this, I’m just saying that the kid would be way more screwed up. I guess you can use the argument that Em has an amazing support system, but...they can’t be that great if no one ever called Child Services on these assholes. Not even Em’s aunt who moved away because Em’s parents were such jerks. Really? No one thought to call child services when a kid’s life was THIS much in danger?
Jessie - Yep, this is what humans act like. She’s such a weak throwaway character that was literally just there for one stupid plot point that I won’t waste time on her other than: Hey hey, you you, I don’t like your girlfriend! No way no way, I think you need a new one! Hey hey, you you, I could be your girl/boyfriend! Ugh, I feel like I just punched poor Avril in the face for that. NOT THAT ANYONE KNOWS WHO SHE IS A DERP A DERP DERP.

I won’t bother with the rest of the characters because honestly, most of them (including some in the above list) are basically copies of each other. They’re all ‘so progressive and nice and sweet and supportive and hip and edgy’ that you can’t really distinguish one from the other.

The characters aren’t people, the racial diversity and LGBT+ aspect is borderline exploitive, and on top of it, on top of everything else, it’s not even a particularly good writing style.

I do not like this book, I would never recommend it, if you loved it then good for you but I did not. I have not given up on this author though, this is the first book I’ve read by them and I do want to give them another shot.
Profile Image for Brooke.
284 reviews142 followers
August 3, 2018
3.5 stars

I'm not sure if I actually liked this more than Queens of Geek, but it comes pretty close. The Brightsiders is unapologetically queer & if you're looking for great LGBTQIAP+ rep, this has it. The 3 MCs of the band- Emmy (bi), Ryan (bi), Alfie (genderqueer)- are strong characters on their own (though we don't see as much on Ryan's development as Emmy's & Alfie's) & their friendship was lovely to see. Alfie was definitely my favorite character- a sequel for him in the future perhaps? Other side characters (Charlie from QoG for example) include Chloe, a black nonbinary femme, as well as some lesbian rep. You can tell Wilde spent a chunk of time fleshing these characters out & respectfully telling their stories (challenging bisexual erasure for one thing). Honestly I think she did better with the rep in here than her debut, but that may just be because it's so positively queer. The cliché friendship-turned-romance between Emmy & Alfie was well-done, but frustrating at times due to lack of communication.

This book focuses heavily on the downside of fame- media, paparazzi, no boundaries for privacy. Readers are told that the band is super popular (even nominated for a Grammy!), but we don't get to see their climb to fame, only told. There are a few scenes of recording in studios, concerts & connecting with fans, which are the things that make it all worth it, but it's overshadowed by the horrible paps & intrusive interviewers. This becomes redundant to the plot after awhile (we get it already); it got old fast.

On the other hand, I appreciate this book discussing topics that you don't find as often in YA: toxic relationships/gaslighting, alcohol addiction, & emotionally abusive parents. It was extremely difficult to read some interactions because of how awful her parents & ex-girlfriend were treating Emmy, so major caution if any of these issues are a trigger. None of these people suddenly "see their bad ways" & change in the end for some unrealistic plot twist. I really liked that Emmy could finally see how much of a people pleaser she was, how she was going down the same path as her parents, & how she just needed to start living for herself. THE BRIGHTSIDERS is very much a coming-of-age tale & for the most part, it's enjoyable. It's character driven & there are times when the plot is slow (too much media!!), but for the most part it's a great summer read. Recommended for all those who want beautiful queer rep.

Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,524 followers
October 7, 2018
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

TW: Emotionally abusive parents, toxic abusive relationship, gaslighting, alcohol abuse, vomiting, car accident, biphobia, transphobia, forced kiss, anxiety attack

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I mean…the issues is tackles so head on (all kinds of abusve relationships) hit me right in the feels, and the way it was done was so honest and Earnest that I couldn't not love it, no matter how many other flaws it has. And to me, it didn't have that many flaw tbh. The MC, Emmy, is a mess, but easily likeable, she's the best example of how hard it is to get your shit together when you're dealing with past trauma and are just overwhelmed by life, I loved how Jen Wilde, through her, showed that progress like that isn't linear and it has set backs and sometimes requires professional help.

I loved the found family and how her friends were such rocks in her life. I LOVED THE CAMEO ALYSSA AND CHARLIE FROM QUEENS OF GEEK MADE, they're in her inner friends' circle and YES PLEASE. I loved how unapologetically queer this book is: Emmy is bisexual, her LI and bandmate Alfie is genderqueer (he/him), Ryan, her other bandmate is also bisexual (and Korean), her best friend Chloe is non-binary (they/them) and pansexual (also black), and so on and so forth. It was just nice to see that gender or sexuality were never a conflict or issue between any of them.

The romance is what made me take out half a star, it's friends to lovers and I live for those, and although the sexual tension was there and really really well done, the transition from platonic feelings to romantic feelings needed a little more work. Not enough to make me dislike the couple but enough to bug me while reading (or listening).

Also, one complaint I see in reviews is that the writing feels clunky and I think the Audiobook (which is how I read the book) cures that, the narration is great and flows super well. Now I'm wondering if I would've enjoyed the book the same if I had read it instead of listening to it!

March 23, 2019
full review now on my blog!

rep: bisexual main character who's briefly in a relationship with another girl and comes out in the novel, genderqueer, pansexual main character with a social anxiety disorder (he/him pronouns), bisexual Korean side character, m/m side romance, non-binary black side character (they/them pronouns), side f/f relationship (the couple from Queens of Geek)

this was like reading a self-insert fanfiction, but i still enjoyed it. and you can't go wrong with all of that representation. review to come!
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 23 books421 followers
July 1, 2022
Ngl pretty sure this book lost me page one when it tried and failed to transcribe drunk-speech.
Profile Image for Inge.
347 reviews892 followers
June 26, 2018
Sadly, I didn't enjoy this one as much as Queens of Geek - I think because it was very dramatic and not as feelgood. But boy, does this author write diverse characters flawlessly. Plus, the band storyline was a lot of fun!
Profile Image for Jaye Berry.
1,392 reviews129 followers
March 10, 2021
I'm wacked out on cough medicine and this shit STILL sucked.

The Brightsiders is about a girl named Emmy who is in a famous band. After a night of partying leads to her girlfriend in jail and Emmy in the hospital, the tabloids have named her the latest train wreck. Luckily her friends and bandmates are there for her to pick up the pieces- including Alfie who Emmy finds herself falling for. But dating your bandmate is a recipe for disaster.

I only picked this up because it was free on audible and in a way I'm happy I listened to it but in another way I could have just taken a nap and then felt more satisfied. I will give this book props for one thing though: it was so diverse and it was actually really nice. Literally all the characters are queer in some way and they are so chill about pronouns and not assuming anyone's gender and I liked that.

But like the rest of the book wasn't good at all lol rip. This book never had a chance with me and I don't know how this worked out but I had literally just read Now That I've Found You which was a great book that also featured famous people / running from the paparazzi / social media shitshow.

This book read like really bad fanfiction. Obviously there is really well written fanfic out there but this wasn't one of them. It hit every sort of basic trope (pls what is with all the fucking HP references!!!!). The villains of the story are over-exaggerated for no reason, with no motive besides they are just meanies. The level of drama was ridiculous and there were way too many random public meltdowns. Plus for being 18+ the characters were immature and I just can't. The romance was mainly founded on the physical and I just gotta say I hate the name "Alfie" so much and I can't explain why. Plus the characters were filthy rich and famous for what? Their poor ass decision makings and general messiness?? It sure wasn't actually running a band.

When it finally came down to do music, oh my god the songs were so bad and fake badass. "dOn'T MEsS wIth tHe gIrL iN ThE purPlE LiPsTiCk" was such a powerhouse lyric for them they just sat around and were like whoaaa that's so deep man. Like please... to even put it on the cover I'm screaming.

This is an audiobook thing but I hate it when audiobooks have lyrics because then the narrator sing talks it in an annoying voice that has no actual musical flow. I understand they probably can't sing an actual note but it's SO ANNOYING AND I WANT TO KILL MY EARS when they do it.

There were times when I thought this book would actually hit on something deep and it almost did but then it just said we're going to have another scene with the comically evil parents / ex gf instead.

I could never pull it off but the girl's hair on the cover is cool as hell. The actual book inside it is not.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,527 reviews207 followers
August 25, 2021
I loved this so much!!

Emmy King is the drummer of the rockstar band, The Brightsiders. Her life is one of incredible privilege, but also many who take advantage of her. After a drunken night out ends with a car crash, Emmy is in the hospital with no memory and her girlfriend is in jail. Emmy is lucky that her friends and bandmates are there to help her pick up the pieces. While she tries to get her life back in order, she begins to realize she might be crushing on Alfie, her bestfriend since childhood. But hooking up with her bandmate is probably not the best idea.

I need more queer rockstars right now. The Brightsiders is an ode to found family, found community, but also doesn't shy away from harder topics. This book just grabs you by the feels and it doesn't let go until the end. Emmy's coming out speech had tears in my eyes and just seeing all the love she got for it was a blessing.

Then there's Emmy and Alfie. I pine for these two idiots. I love them so much. I really loved how their relationship developed. I was not a fan of Emmy's ex and how she constantly gaslit Emmy. I would like to make it clear that Emmy does not cheat on anyone in this book, regardless of Jess's comments.

Rep: bisexual female MC, genderqueer pansexual love interest, Black bi femme nonbinary side character, 1st gen Korean-American questioning male side character, Chinese-Australian sapphic side character dating a sapphic Black female side character, achillean male side character, supporting queer side characters.

I loved Wilde's Queens of Geek and this one just cements them as a new fave. I can't wait for what she has next!

CWs: Alcohol consumption (both legal and underage), alcoholism, biphobia, child abuse/neglect, drug use, emotional abuse, gaslighting, mental illness (anxiety), misogyny, outing, panic attacks/disorders, toxic relationship, vomit, racism.
Profile Image for Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice).
1,157 reviews162 followers
May 10, 2019
3.5 stars!

I'm not going to lie. My expectations going into The Brightsiders was quite high. I'm always looking for good, well-written Queer romances. Sadly, this one wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I ended up disliking the main character Emmy immensely. She was always getting into scraps and jumped into arguments and events without properly thinking things through. Nevertheless, I loved the Bisexual and Gender-Queer representations. Emmy is a drummer in a famous band called The Brightsiders. She hates her parents, I hated them too, so she mainly sticks to her close friends for support rather than them. She has to battle the tabloids and constant paparazzi who always hound her. The California and Hawaii settings were good, I did enjoy the close bond between Emmy and fellow band mate Alfie. Overall, I found some of the content to be a little too toxic which spoiled the reading experience for me!
Profile Image for Andrea.
347 reviews102 followers
March 3, 2023
Trigger warning: alcohol abuse, abusive parents

The Brightsiders is Jen Wilde’s second novel. I went in with very high expectations! I thought Queens of Geek was absolutely adorable, so I wanted a lot of the same feels from this one. While this was a bit different than Queens of Geek, it was no less amazing.

This follows teen drummer Emmy King who is spiraling a bit. She’s about to turn 18, and gets caught for underage drinking, and her girlfriend for driving under the influence. Branded as a trainwreck by the media, she finds herself moving back into her emotionally abusive parents home. I’ll admit, it took me a while to fully get into this, hence the four stars. But around 30% into the book I found that I couldn’t put it down.

This has one of my favorite romance tropes, friends-to-lovers. The romance was so well done. It was swoony and steamy, and I hope they’re happy together forever.

This book was unapologetically queer and diverse. Emmy is bisexual. We have Alfie who is genderqueer, uses he/him pronouns, and is pansexual. Then there’s Chloe, a black nonbinary femme vlogger who uses they/them pronouns. And finally, Ryan, who is Korean-American and queer. All these characters were so well-rounded and brought something unique to the story.

There were a few discussions on biphobia, misgendering, and just stereotypes they have to deal with that really stood out to me. Alfie also had social anxiety, which isn’t a part of the main plot, but it’s handled so well. There were a few passages dedicated to slut-shaming and body-shaming as well.

Considering this follows a famous teen, Wilde really handled both the “famous” aspects and the normal teen issues well. On one side, you have Emmy’s story of breaking out from her abusive parents’ life, her new romance with her bandmate, and her found family in her friends. Then there was the famous side, where we saw insensitive paparazzi’s and talk show hosts, and biphobia from outsiders. All of this created a very

Emmy experiences so much growth throughout the novel. She struggles a lot with the toxic relationships in her life, and seeing her confidence and self-worth grow made my heart happy. I definitely recommend this! We even see some cameos from Queens of Geek in here.

Thank you to Netgalley for sending me an ARC.
Profile Image for Stella ☆Paper Wings☆.
537 reviews46 followers
May 30, 2019
4.5 stars
It seems I'm never going to properly review this, so here's just some random thoughts/notes I guess??
Queens of Geek was good, but this is GOOD.
• Chloe and I are getting married.
• The diversity (particularly when it comes to gender) is in unmesurable quantities.
• Genuine fluff combined with people dealing with their issues.

some notable quotes
zero assumption of gender:
"I...try to distract myself by looking at the crowd. A teen wearing a Brightsiders T-shirt under a suit blazer pumps their fist in the air. Someone with pink and blue hair screams Ryan's name. A cutie in a bright yellow dress holds up a sign that says 'MARRY ME EMMY!' and I have to suppress my squees so I don't mess up my drumming."

and on makeup:
"Besides, who's really the shallow one? The person who wears makeup because it makes them feel good or the person who judges them for wearing it?"

"Putting lipstick on was a good idea; I feel better already."

CW: abusive/neglectful/alcoholic parents, toxic former partner, social anxiety in crazy social situations (with paparazzi and the like)

Uhhhh yeah, it's an amazing book. Read it.
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
Author 18 books144 followers
March 20, 2022
I liked this book. I liked the way that it tied in to the main characters--Charlie and Alyssa--from Queens of Geek. But I didn't love this book.

The Brightsiders is the name of a young rock band made up of Ryan, Emmy and Alfie. They are queer icons because Alfie is out as being nonbinary. And Emmy comes out as bisexual shortly after the start of the story where we see her dating a girl called Jesse.

I wasn't a fan of Jesse. In fact, I wasn't fan of the first 16 odd chapters in the novel that mostly showed the abuse Emmy coped from Jesse and her parents, made worse by the paps who are following and commenting on her every life detail.

That isn't to say that the parent part particularly wasn't important as a part of the story. It was just difficult to read their scheming, lying and money grabbing ways.

Thank god for Alfie and the wider group of friends who take Emmy away for her birthday. That was when this book really turned around for the positive for me. There were still difficult points to read thereafter, but it wasn't every other page anymore.

In short, this is an incredibly confronting read with a cast of incredibly queer characters.

Similar to: It Goes Like This
Profile Image for USOM.
2,464 reviews203 followers
May 14, 2018
This book is amazing. I loved every aspect of it from the fun and colorful cover to the main character, to the diversity, to the toxic relationships, to the ending. I'd go back and read this all over again except I want to share my love for this book with the world - so instead I'm writing this review.

full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
Profile Image for K..
3,796 reviews1,021 followers
July 15, 2018
Trigger warnings: Abusive parents, abusive relationship, gaslighting, alcohol abuse, slut shaming.

I was excited about this book from basically the moment it was announced, mostly because of how much I adored Queens of Geek. And then when this hit my Kindle, I put off reading it for inexplicable reasons. I have to say, I didn't love it as much as I loved Queens of Geek, and for at least 50% of the book, it was looking like being a 3 star book for me.

What I loved most about this is the diversity. Emmy is bisexual, the love interest is pansexual and genderfluid and has an anxiety disorder, her best friend is a person of colour who uses they/them pronouns, the majority of her friends are queer and many of them are POC.

So yeah. The diversity is great. But the story was...IDEK. Sort of meh a lot of the time? At times, it felt like the majority of the plot developments relied exclusively on the paparazzi ruining Emmy's life in some new and not especially exciting way. Add in the fact that there are a lot of Garbage People in this book (Emmy's parents and her initial love interest are the stand outs, but there are certainly others), and I was sort of on the struggle bus for the first half of the story.

Ultimately, the romance that develops was cute enough to push it over the line to a 4 star read for me, but it definitely won't stick with me the way that Queens of Geek did (that said, the cameos here made me flail excitedly).
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