This is one of those rare cases where the first book in a series is great, but the sequel is even better! In this second book in the wonderful, poignant and emotional Runaway Train series, we once again meet troubled teenager Nico as she’s living her dream on tour with the band Grenade Bouquets, but still fighting her demons, grieving the loss of her sister and generally making bad decisions.
In the first book, Runaway Train, Nico was a train wreck waiting to happen and I read the whole book with the heart in my mouth so afraid of the crazy things Nico might end up doing to herself. Here, in this second book, Nico was in a better place and I could enjoy the story in a more relaxed mood. That didn’t mean that Nico stopped making bad decisions, using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms or acting out though…
Nico is a main character that isn’t the easiest to love, but I really appreciate how Lee Matthew Goldberg never shied away from her flaws and shortcomings, since it’s what made her so unique and authentic. I have to admit that there were some scenes where Nico crossed the line for me and acted just too reckless and selfish for it to be okay, but other than that I was always on her side and totally rooting for her. This was a truly heartbreaking book at times. Even though Nico was in a better place now than in the first book when she was completely lost and broken by pain and grief, she still went through so much this time around too. There were so many ups and downs, so many times the demons got the better of her and she hurt herself and the persons closest to her. I also really appreciated how the harsh realities of the music industry were explored with all its pressure, cynicism and objectification. Being a rock star definitely isn’t as glamorous as one would imagine…
This series is such a raw and honest tale about the nineties and a troubled girl’s journey to find herself and heal. It’s both sad and upsetting at times, but also so hopeful and full of the magic of music. Just like in the first book in this series, the writing style had such a wonderful flow and authenticity, and the concept with the chapter titles being the songs on Nico’s mixtape was brilliant in the way each song matched the mood of the chapter.
All in all, Grenade Bouquets was a breathtaking rollercoaster ride that was sad and hopeful, heartbreaking and heartwarming, gripping and addictive with relatable and authentic characters, as well as a brilliant love letter to the nineties era!
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the ARC and blog tour invitation for this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
4.5 magical stars rounding up to 5
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alwyn Hamilton Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Mackenzi Lee Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally M. Tasia Nancy Garden Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Yamile Saied Méndez