Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book 25: The Big Rewind

"I glared up at her. If there are vampires anywhere in the world, they're in this end of Brooklyn, sympathy-sucking leeches living every day like it's their own private reality show, latching on to anything that might get them a moment of attention, a warm body, a subway seat on a ten-minute ride."

Dates Read: February 28-March 1, 2016

Rating: 8/10

I remember making mixtapes. When you were a kid growing up when I was a kid, there were two ways to get songs onto your tape: a dual tape deck (covetable, and eventually something my family had, but not until later) or the good old radio. I don't know how many nights I sat there in my bedroom, waiting for a song to come on so I could add it to my mix. Obviously this made for some haphazard tracklists because things were in the order you could get them off the radio, so I never got much into the mixtape as artform. I am an obsessive playlist curator on my iTunes today, though, which is for all intents and purposes the same thing.

Mixtapes as artform are at the heart of Libby Cudmore's The Big Rewind. We're going back to Brooklyn...but this time, the modern-day hipster-infested version. Jett Bennett is subletting her grandmother's rent-controlled apartment and working temp jobs while she tries to figure out what to do with her life now that she has her Master's in music journalism but no one seems to want to pay her for her writing. When she gets a mixtape in her mailbox meant for her neighbor KitKat, she goes to drop it off...and discovers KitKat's body, murdered by a blow to the head. Jett works to try to solve the crime, the only clue to which is the mixtape, and is inspired to go back through her own collection of mixtapes from lost loves, reaching back out to them along the way.

The Big Rewind was obviously inspired by Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, with both books featuring main plotlines in which the music-obsessed protagonist reconnects with ex-lovers as they try to figure out where they're going with their lives. But it's not a gender-swapped rip-off: there's the mystery of what happened to KitKat to move the plot forward, and Jett is a very different person than Hornby's Rob Fleming. But the parallels are clear, and if you enjoyed Hornby's, you should enjoy Cudmore's, too. 

This is a perfect summer/beach read for 20- and 30-somethings. It's entertaining and moves quickly, blending together light mystery and light romance with bright, witty prose. The reason I throw an age range on there is that the book very much reflects the world as it would exist to a mid-to-late 20s resident of Brooklyn: it's peppered with references to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, Reddit, etc, that might just fly right over the head of people who use social media primarily to post family photos and political memes. As someone who spends a lot of time online myself, it feels very organic and natural, but for someone who experiences the internet as a less integral part of their life, it might be confusing. That being said, I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. This is Cudmore's debut novel, and I'm excited to see what she does next!

Tell me, blog friends...when was the last time you made a mixtape?

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, William Morrow Books, through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review**

Note: Review cross-posted at Cannonball Read

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