Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.


Song For This Book: I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys
Why? This book is set in the height of boy and girl bands, so it seems only appropriate to pair it with a boyband song.


I receieved a copy of this book from HarperCollins Canada Frenzy’s Spring Reading Giveaway.

As soon as I heard this book was about 90s girl and boy bands, I was immediately interested. I was a kid in the height of this sort of music, so much of my early music that wasn’t my parents’ music was boy and girl bands. It’s easy to forget about this interesting period of music, so it was great to come across a story from that time.

And it’s a fun, little book. Maybe not the most realistic story out there, but who cares? How often do you get to read a book about something who fluked getting discovered and thrown into this world? It’s fun, and it’s a new perspective on something that we have all heard about. If you’ve ever been a fan of the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Spice Girls, et cetera, this is a book you’ll definitely want to read.

The Good Points of Fireworks:

The romance story in this book is so well done. I’m not usually a huge fan of romance stories, but this one is well done and so sweet, it’s just great. It’s not perfect, but what relationship is?

Speaking of the relationship, the way the author handles consent in this book is amazing, and more than deserves a point of its own. This is how you show a healthy teen sex life. With so many questionable or unhealthy sex lives in YA books these days, this was a great surprise.

I love the way that the job and training process is shown in this book. It’s hard, it’s a lot of work, and you’re a product more than a person half the time, and Cotungo shows you ever thing. Sometimes music careers are played off as easy and fun, but music is a lot of work. And I like that we got to see that.

I loved how complex the relationship between Dana and Olivia was. It left me perpetually frustrated, and still annoyed a day after I finished the book, but I liked that their perfect friendship wasn’t so perfect at times. It added some fun complexities to the book, and showed that some people aren’t as wonderful as we think them to be.

The Downsides of Fireworks:

So this was set in the 90s. But if there wasn’t mention of the year in the book, you’d honestly never know. Where were all the 90s pop icons? It’s a book about boy and girl bands, and you didn’t mention the Spice Girls? Or Backstreet Boys? Or Britney Spears? The only thing that made it feel vaguely 90s was the minor obsession with midriffs and the fact that no one had a cell phone. Otherwise, it could have been any time.

Dana is one hell of a special snowflake. Despite no training, she’s the special one with the ‘something’ that’s going to be big, get the guy, and have everyone rooting for her? And sure, there are some people who have that sort of talent and charisma, but I would have liked to see her flawed beyond her financial situation and her choice of friends.

I would have also liked Alex to be more complex character. He’s basically just there to tell us how great Dana is. And while I enjoy the relationship, I think the author could have done more.

Purely personal opinion, but I would have liked the epilogue to be set further ahead than it was. Maybe see where everyone is a couple of years later, just out of curiosity.

All in all, I did have a blast reading this book. There are some issues with it, but it’s such a fun read that I have a hard time knocking my rating for it any lower than it is. So we’ll stick with the 4 stars for now. If you love boy or girl bands, have vague memories of the 90s, enjoy following complicated friendships, or ever dreamed of a pop star career yourself, you should definitely check out Fireworks!

Find Fireworks on Book Depository!

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