I picked up Virtuosity at the Simon and Schuster blogger event at BEA and it was one of the books I was most excited about reading. The cover threw me off a bit once I got into it because it really doesn't match the mood or main character of the story. Carmen Bianchi is a 17 year old child prodigy who's already won a Grammy and is now working toward the most important competition of her career-the Guarneri. If she wins it means a new violin, and touring some of the most prestigious music halls of the world as a soloist. But Carmen has felt her passion and skill slipping away in the grip of performance anxiety and psychological addiction to the drug Inderal. As her mom and violin coach Yuri pour on the pressure, Carmen's performance continues to deteriorate. She wants to know what she's up against and finds Jeremy King, who in every way seems to be just like her only he's British and he looks like he's a young little boy with curly blond hair and dimples. That is online. When she "bumps"into him in person she's surprised by what she finds and mortified that he catches her spying. So begins the perfect banter and chemistry between Carmen and Jeremy who both want and need so badly to win.
Virtuosity was a refreshing change of pace for contemporary YA with music as the focal point. I'm not a big fan of prologues that give away future plot points so I kind of wish it would have been left out. I loved that it was clean with only a couple swear words in the entire book and minus sexual content. The characters and the places they visit jumped right off the page for me. I genuinely loved the support Jeremy and Carmen show for each other given that they have every reason to mistrust and even dislike one another. I am a little concerned about the portrayal of an anti anxiety drug as evil because there are many teens who may genuinely battle with anxiety and have to turn to medication for relief. Other than that the only other wish I had is that the ending was more fully fleshed out and not so rushed. I would recommend Virtuosity to readers over 14 as a good clean look into the life of a teen professional musician who is fighting against pressure from a parent. It's a tale of forbidden love and self-discovery that I genuinely enjoyed!