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Beat the Band – Don Calame

“’This is it, dawgs,’ I say. ‘From boys to men. Tenth grade is the year we tag all the bases. First, second, third and then we slide into home.’

‘I’d just be happy to step into the batter’s box again,’ Sean says.
I shoot him a gimme-a-break look. ‘Dont be so mopey, dude. Tianna was just a practise swing. Now you’re primed to aim for the fences.’
Matt, Coop and Sean are back in the just as hilarious second book in the Swim the Fly series. After a fun, for some, summer, the boys are back at school and starting tenth grade. This time we get an insight into the wonderfully twisted brain of Coop as he tries to get all the ladies to love him. His first problem however is when he gets partnered with social outcast ‘Hot Dog’ Helen for a Health class project. To save his reputation he decides the boys have to enter the schools Battle of the Bands and become rock gods in the space of three months. The only problem is none of them have picked up an instrument in two years!

***
When I finished Swim the fly I was a bit worried about its sequel. I LOVED Swim the Fly, Matt was an hilarious narrator and yet so lovely. Yet Coop was a bit of a jerk, so knowing that Beat the Band was told from Coop’s point of view had me worried, I thought I was going to hate it, however, Coop is a jerk but he’s a very loveable jerk and his perspective just made this book even funnier than its predecessor.
The story is brilliant, we’re introduced to Coop in Swim the Fly and know what he’s like with his crazy plans and aims, plans that usually backfire terribly and caused the boys ***(slight) SPOILER ALERT If you haven’t read Swim the Fly don’t highlight this sentence!!*** to get to see their swim teacher naked in the last book! So it’s not surprising that yet again he has a plan to become a rock god and kick the ass of all the other bands in the Battle of the Bands.
It starts as a way for Coop to regain any social standing he had in the school and soon becomes a tangled mess as everything seems to be working against the boys! They don’t even have a demo tape to submit in the first place! As it goes on the story just gets funnier and funnier, though I did feel so sorry for ‘Hot Dog’ Helen as this all came about because Coop didn’t want to be known as her ‘Corn dog.’ The pair are stuck working together and that in itself creates hilarious scenes for the reader to enjoy!
What really got me hooked with both of the books in the series was the blatant brilliance of the author. I swear that Don Calame is either spying on school kids, hasn’t ever grown up or is actually 16 because every sentence sounds like it’s been ejected straight from a teen boys brain. Its brilliant! I can’t help but love it purely because of how utterly realistic it is, I sat reading and could vividly see boys I went to school with acting like these three. The writing is so simple yet powerful too and I breezed through the 420 page book in a matter of hours, something which will most definitely appeal to boys who don’t like to sit still for too long!!
The character we’re introduced to in this are brilliant, we have the main four in Coop, Matt, Sean and Val – Matt’s girlfriend – who we know from Swim the Fly but then we are introduced to Coops family and people from school. I must admit that almost everyone from the school that we meet are douche bags, I mean it, they are awful and are hell bent on making Helen’s life a misery, shes the only nice kid from school and I felt so sorry for her and wanted to beat Coop into being nice to her!! I liked that we got to know more about Coop and can definitely suggest that he gets his loveable jerk type personality from his father, who I found hilarious but if he was my dad I’d want the ground to swallow me up!! I liked that although both of these characters could be infuriating, hit the book over your head, types, they were both harmless, with a soft side of the pair of them coming out. Though there is a hilarious scene involving the two of them and a bear bottle and that’s got to be the most brilliant “omg what are you doing?!?!” scene EVER! 
The ONE downside to this book was on literally the last page. I thought it was a little corny, but fun at the same time, however I’m not sure if teens would think that it’s as fun. It could have finished at a brilliant point a couple of paragraphs earlier and I would have not had a problem with it… but thats just my personal opinion!
Other than that, I can’t praise this book enough. I really can’t, it’s a perfect teen ‘boy’ read but that’s not to say girls wont enjoy it too, the inclusion of Helen, Val and the ‘Phenomenal Four’ is enough to get the girls interested and I think it’s a perfect way of girls understanding what’s going on in the strange minds of boys – especially as I reckon every thought Coop has does actually go through a guys brain at some point!!
Beat the Band is the second in the Swim the Fly series – the first of wish was released last year.  It was published by Templar on February 1st. There will be a third – Call the Shots – to follow. My copy was sent to be for review from the publisher, this has not affected my review.

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