Turn It Up! by Jen Calonita | YA Pitch Perfect?

Posted May 22, 2018 by Sophia

Turn It Up! by Jen Calonita | YA Pitch Perfect?

Turn It Up! by Jen Calonita | YA Pitch Perfect?Turn It Up! by Jen Calonita
Published by Scholastic on January 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Library

The Nightingales are in a serious funk.

Bradley Academy's all-girl a cappella group used to be the pride and joy of the sunshine state, but the Nightingales have fallen out of harmony.

Best friends and co-captains Lidia Sato and Sydney Marino aren't speaking. A boy has come between them -- none other than Griffin Mancini, the obnoxious lead singer of Bradley's smug all-boy a capella group, the Kingfishers.

The Nightingales have no chance at winning the big state final if their captains are at each other's throats. Their only hope is new girl Julianna Ramirez. But in addition to her serious pipes, she has some serious stage fright.

The Nightingales will have to come together if they want to shine at the upcoming competition and restore the group to its former glory.

Turn It Up! follows Lidia, Sydney, and Julianna through the ups and downs of friendship, romance, competition, and finding the perfect song!

Turn It Up! was a totally random pick I chose from my library’s OverDrive catalog because they didn’t have the book I so desperately wanted in my hands right at the very moment. Come on, American Panda. Come to meeee.

Or maybe they did but I didn’t feel like reading any fantasy. I’ve been wanting more and more cute contemporary romances lately. Give me all the cute contemporaries, bookwyrms. I need to feed my latest addiction until I’m tired of it and go back to my usual fantasy groove.


Jen Calonita’s latest novel is about acapella groups. I love and admire acapella (Pentatonix is one of my favorite groups) so this novel caught my eye really quick. Turn It Up! is essentially Pitch Perfect set in a high school setting instead of college. I was hoping that I would enjoy the book a lot since it is about music and acapella.

Unfortunately, the book focuses too much on Lidia’s and Sydney’s problem with little to no progress and an ending that was basically handed over to the characters on a plate adorned with musical notes and shoes. Boom. Happily ever after for everyone.

This is basically the summary of the book:

  • Girl has a crush on a guy
  • Other girl ends up falling in love with the guy
  • Girl catches other girl and guy kissing, creates tension among friendship
  • Girl develops other interests and chases after it because it conveniently keeps her away from other girl and guy as well
  • Other girl tries to push guy but really, she’s in love but she values friendship
  • Girl falls in love slowly with another guy
  • Guy somehow gets between girl and other guy by accident – oopsies
  • Girl and other girl realizes they don’t have to be this way
  • Somehow they become best friends again and everyone lives happily ever after

I was expecting more… I don’t know, music to be involved? There’s certainly conflict among the acapella group, but it felt like the musical angle wasn’t even needed to create drama among the characters since there seemed to be issues well before the acapella group became a thing. 🤷

A lot of the issues seemed to have roots since middle school/early high school – they just seemed to have escalated. And while the Pitch Perfect movie had their drama, it was at least entertaining and catchy. I can’t say the same for the book.

The writing felt off – there were times where it felt awkward due to punctuation usage, mainly exclamation points. Sentences that didn’t need an exclamation had one, or maybe it’s just the phrasing of the sentences themselves. It didn’t really help me enjoy the book more.

And then there were the characters. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have a hard time thinking of how old most of the characters are. I know Turn It Up! is set in high school, but there were times where I felt they were a little younger. 🤔

But hey, there were maybe a few parts that were good!

  • Eventually, everyone got past their differences – hooray
  • There is a cute romance, and I definitely ship it
  • Sometimes I wanted to smush the two characters together
  • Lidia’s family is cute and adorable

Anyways, those smol little bits that were good didn’t make up for the bad. I wanted more from Turn It Up! and I got a Pitch Perfect version in book form that was less entertaining than the movie.

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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7 responses to “Turn It Up! by Jen Calonita | YA Pitch Perfect?

  1. Aw, sorry to hear there wasn’t as much music in the book as you’d think! It seems like it could have been done a lot better with the premise. Thanks for sharing.


  2. This does sound cute, but endings where everything wraps up too neatly bug me. I would probably want to hear the music, too!

  3. While I do have a soft spot for Pitch Perfect (mostly just Anna Kendrick), this book doesn’t sound like it’s for me. The romance sounds really complicated, and I’m definitely expecting LOTS of music the way the book’s being described. I’m sorry this wasn’t a fabulous read for you!

  4. I was disappointed when I was seeing so many negative reviews for this book, because I thought it was would be a fun, cute book (my favorite kind of book). Sorry it didn’t work for you. I did really enjoy American Panda though, and hope you get to read it soon.

  5. I love your little plot summary 😀 I don’t read too many contemporaries. For some reason, I just don’t really like them all that much xD glad you enjoyed it 🙂 but I agree, the blurb sounds very musical, but it seems like it was just a cover for all the drama 😀

  6. Ahh, this sounded adorable, so much potential! I wonder if reading rather than experiencing the music is also a big factor in why this one isn’t clicking with you as well. Even as an adult, that’s why I used to watch Glee, I liked the diversity of genres on there but probably wouldn’t have been half as interested if I was reading about it. Probably more suited to younger teens with this one unfortunately. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed it more Sophia but wonderful review! ♥♥♥

  7. Aww!! This cover looks so cute – and familiar, so I feel like I’ve read about this one at some point. Makes me want to run out and pick up a copy just for its “perfect” lighthearted contemporary vibes. Sorry it wasn’t a great story… that’s always a bummer. Thanks so much for sharing your review – and for the recent Finding Wonderland visit. 🙂