Book Review – Off Key

By Mark Robertson

Started: 26th August 2014

Finished: 3rd September 2014

I can’t say that jazz is really a style of music that I know anything about, but it was clear that’s where the author’s passion lies. Thank you to Mark who sent me this book in exchange for an honest review.

In Off Key we meet Kyle, who’s trying to make it as a jazz musician in Sunderland and living off his girlfriend Charlotte in order to achieve this. One day Charlotte gets sick of putting her needs second to Kyle’s music career and leaves him. This is the wake up call that Kyle needs and slowly things start to fall into place… But for how long?

At first I really didn’t like Kyle, he just put music before everything else in his life and assumed that the world would bend to his musical will. However as the book went on you did start to see a different side of him, it wasn’t totally clear at first but at the end you see he isn’t as ignorant as originally thought. I was surprised that Charlotte had stayed with him as long as she had. Charlotte was also far from perfect, however I felt more sympathetic towards her than I did Kyle. I was quite surprised with how much I liked Dainty as well, even though she was an interfering best friend with good intentions, her attitude and behaviour wasn’t maddening and I found her likeable. Harry Crabb was an interesting addition to the mix, almost a personification of Kyle’s future if he doesn’t change his ways. Another interesting addition was Craig, one of Kyle’s students, he was a lovely boy however I don’t know whether he was really needed? He hardly made an appearance, it would have been nice to see more of him which would have then made him a more valuable character.

The plot was good and unique. There was a good mix of jazz and the music scene with the romance, instead of one outweighing the other. Although I know next to nothing about jazz, I was still able to enjoy and appreciate what Kyle, his band and Harry were having to deal with. The perspective of the novel shifts between the main characters, which I enjoyed. They were clearly indicated but sometimes I would find the change sudden and unwelcome. There were times when I was really into a particular character’s situation and wanted to read more about that, only to have it disrupted by something I wasn’t completely invested in.

There was a short time in the middle of the novel where my interest dwindled due to the pacing, however this was recaptured towards the end (especially with a twist that I didn’t see coming). This novel doesn’t just focus on the romance of Kyle and Charlotte, but other characters too and I really enjoyed the addition of Harry Crabb’s ex-wife. The band members individual stories were nice to read and gave each of them a distinct personality.

Overall this was a good book and would be enjoyed by music and romance lovers. There were times where it didn’t scream at me to pick it back up but when I did, I could happily just sit there and read it.

Rating: 3/5

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