In Fearless by Mandy Gonzalez, Monica is an aspiring actress, and applies to a new Broadway show on a whim. Then, unexpectedly, they call her, and she’s in—but just as an understudy. Still, she excitedly heads from her home in California to New York City. However, upon her arrival at the theater, she notices how strange accidents and occurrences seem to be plaguing the place. Could it be cursed? Monica and her new friends decide to get to the bottom of this, hoping to stop the curse before opening night of their show.
I’m a fan of musicals, so I thought this middle grade novel sounded fun! I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author.
I like Monica; she’s very sweet and talented and determined. Her other friends are great, especially April, and I really loved her Abuela. The other adults, though, weren’t as interesting to me, and I had trouble sometimes remembering who was who. I think part of this might be that Gonzalez, who also narrates the audiobook, didn’t change her voice too much for each character, but overall, it wasn’t a big issue.
The best parts of this book are the behind-the-scenes look at Broadway productions. Gonzalez is a Broadway star, and her experience and knowledge and enthusiasm really shine through here. I loved seeing how a production comes together, and just how many people contribute to creating a show.
The “cursed theater” elements were cool, but I wish there had been a bit more payoff. While the ending was sweet, I think I was expecting something more, somehow. I suppose that comes from the explanation of the curse being a little vague. Ah, well, I still think middle schoolers will have a lot of fun with this story.
I have another small pet peeve, as the book editor side of me comes out. Often, the point of view changes from character to character randomly within the same scene, often for only a sentence or so, which is something I don’t like. The book is predominately from Monica’s POV, so some of the asides from other characters’ views don’t really make sense for her to be privy to. But I think this is simply due to the fact that this is Gonzalez’s first novel, and hey, in the grand scheme, this is minor.
In the end, Fearless is a lighthearted mystery with good characters and a fun setting. It’s not a perfect story, but it was entertaining and full of a diverse cast, with some decent spookiness and action.
Overall rating: 7.8/10