Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Tags: YA, contemporary, music, deafness


Piper, a moderately deaf high school senior, unexpectedly finds herself the manager of a high school band by the culturally enlightened name of Dumb. Her job is to get Dumb some paying gigs, but Piper soon finds out that being a manager consists of much more than simply financial savvy. Piper must deal with musical shortcomings, in-band tensions, a skeptical and uncomprehending family, and, perhaps, most of all, her doubt in her own ability to break out of her quiet good-girl mold and demand that the world listen to her.


Antony John’s novel would more appropriately be called Five Flavors of AWESOME. This rocking good book will make you want to jump up and cheer, for wonderful characters, great narration, and an absorbing and uplifting tale.

I’m really quite bowled over at how well John captures the voice of a teenage girl. Piper may be deaf, but she struggles with many of the same issues as other teenagers: her dreams of independence and acceptance battle her sense of familial obligation, she wishes she could blend into the crowd yet simultaneously wants to be respected. Incredibly, Piper never falls into the YA cliché of the smart and quiet good girl who breaks out of her shell. She is down-to-earth and resilient despite years of having to struggle against the current, particularly her family’s subpar ways of dealing with her deafness. She is truly a character that I would be proud to call a friend, and gives contemporary YA female protagonists everywhere a good name.

A story cannot propel itself on the strength of a well-written protagonist alone, and happily supporting characters in FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB are just as fascinating, just as complex. The band members different personalities and problems with one another are believable and add a good amount of conflict to the story without being too messy or overwhelming. The changes that Piper and her family undergo in their relationships with one another truly take the cake, however. It is subtle yet prominent, optimistic without wandering into unrealistic happily-ever-afters.

FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB is not simply a book about the music business, or being deaf. It is, rather, the story of an incredible girl who learns how to be proud of who she is, and beautiful in her confidence. Highly recommended for those who enjoy a strong read that reminds us about why we love contemporary YA: for that gem of a character into whose journey we get irrevocably swept.

Similar Authors
Carolyn Mackler
John Green

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - I like the colors, but am not sure how I feel about the model, and how she's posed.

Dial Books / Nov. 11, 2010 / Hardcover / 352pp. / $16.99

Borrowed from library.


  1. This sounds like such a cool, different book. I also love a book that has a character with some kind of difference (like Piper being deaf) but that difference doesn't define the character or her experiences. Thanks for the review!

  2. I want to read this too!
    and I love that the cover is so rock and roll :D

  3. I loved this book! Such a great cast of characters!

  4. I never heard of this book before. I like your review.

  5. Every time I see a positive review of this novel (which they have ALL been positive) I can't help but cheer. Antony is such an awesome writer, and I've deemed his work "insta-purchase" from here on out. I've yet to read his other novel, but he's got a completely different set of writing for the future that I'm SUPER PUMPED about.

    SO glad you enjoyed DUMB.

  6. Thanks so much for the awesome review, Steph. And thanks to everyone who commented too. Much appreciated!

  7. Awesome review!! I was barcoding this book at the library yesterday and I wanted to read your review has me DYING to read it. :)

  8. Antony John’s novel would more appropriately be called Five Flavors of AWESOME.

    Okay. 'nuff said. It's going on the wishlist! :)

  9. I loved this one too! I thought Piper was an exceptional character, a really great role model for girls.


Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...