The Trouble with Destiny

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published: 12-8-15 by Random House
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

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Art – Erin Fitzsimmons       Rating – 3/5

I wish the cover of this book had something related to band on it because so much of the story is about the band. Liza is such a great leader that I think maybe she should be shown without a guy on the cover, even though romance is definitely a big part of the story. Maybe she could be at the bow alone and the guy could be a bit behind her. Besides the lack of any musical symbols, this is a really nice cover. I love the color scheme and the focus on the title. I really like how the boat and the water look like paper, and the way everything’s shades is lovely. The photo goes well with the illustration and really stand out against the black background.

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The Trouble with Destiny is a borderline 3-4 star read for me. As a former band geek, I always appreciate YA books about band and its unique culture. However, this story is mostly about Liza, which has its ups and downs. Liza’s the student leader of the band, and desperate for them to win a cruise ship contest from some much-needed cash. But complications arise from the competing teams and romantic hijinks, because what else would happen with hundreds of high schoolers in a confined space?

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  • Liza – I love how Liza is a respected leader in the band. These 60 people do what she says without hesitation and really look up to her. Liza may not always make the best decisions, but she never takes advantage of her authority and she is fairly decent at delegating. Liza also makes decisions quickly and doesn’t change her mind often.
  • other band members – Although they are treated as minor characters so there can be more focus on the love fiasco happening, the other members of the band are interesting people who I wanted to see more of. We do get to see a lot of Huck, but I wasn’t his biggest fan. There’s the neurotic and talented Nicole, the irresponsible Jared, and best friend Hillary. I love how Nicole reacted to Liza unfairly snapping at her. It made me want to see her in more of the book because she’s clearly dealing with her own issues. Then there’s Jared, who is used to give Russ a redeeming moment. I think it would have been cool to hear more about Jared himself…does he usually follow his hormones or was this a fluke? And Hillary is written off as Liza’s female best friend, needed only for roommate situations on band trips and unfailing supplier of seasickness patches. Overall, I think it would’ve been great if Liza had interacted with more members of the band, especially since she’s their fearless leader. 
  • cruise ship – It’s kind of insane to send a whole band on a cruise ship. The Destiny is like a floating city, with much more space dedicated to leisure and fun than anything else. There are hundreds of largely unsupervised teenagers on this boat who have maybe a single one hour practice per day to fill their time. That’s just asking for trouble. There are vicious games of Truth or Dare, alcohol, flirting, and more nudity than you’d probably expect, and while all of this is crazy it’s also fun to read about.
  • Russ – Russ is tagging along with the band as punishment, but is a really sweet guy. He’s a football player and generally acts like a golden retriever. He’s excited by everything, always seems to be in the way, and genuinely wants to help out. Russ fills in for an unexpectedly absent band member, helps Liza out of some seriously close calls, and refuses to get pulled into the vortex of jealous love games.

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  • amount of responsibility – Liza is the band’s drum major, which makes her the student with the most responsibility. She’s the one who conducts the band on the field during marching season, but has no leadership position during concert band season…except in this book apparently, where she conducts on stage instead of the band director. Anyway, Liza is a leader and motivator, but the adult band director is the one who’s really in charge. In this case though, Liza is running absolutely everything, from room assignments to rehearsals, which the director doesn’t seem to even attend. Liza’s a great leader, but she should have never had the amount of responsibility she does, whether it was her wanted to take more one or the director being too lax. Liza is running herself into the ground while her director sips tropical cocktails.
  • love…quadrangle? – So we’ve got Liza, Lenny, Russ, and Demi all tangled up in drama-filled games. There are exes, crushes, and the typical ex-BFF who now hates the MC subplot and it’s all a bit much. Whether it’s sabotage, lies. or incriminating photos, these characters act on jealousy over relationships both real and perceived. It’s petty and ridiculous, and the couples are predictable from very early on. I have no idea how Demi has time to screw with Liza while also managing her responsibility to the Athenas. The guys, meanwhile, are just sort of tag-alongs with no major responsibilities.
  • breakdown – The fact that Destiny broke down really has nothing to do with the real plot. Things were already going downhill for Liza due to Demi’s meddling, Liza’s own expectations, and just the general chaos of teenagers on a cruise ship. I wish that the ship’s breakdown had been left out in favor of devoting more time to Liza’s personal breakdown and more character development of some of the other band members.

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Russ readjusts his hand around my waist and pulls me close, this time a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. “Okay, detour time, then.”

We make it to the elevator. When the doors slide open, Russ drags me in and lets me lean against the back wall. I try my best to avoid catching my reflection in the mirrors that make up the entire interior of the elevator box, but the only way to do that is to focus my attention on Russ’s reflection instead.      – Russ + Liza   Loc. 2229

My embarrassment morphs into a white-hot rage.

“If you want a girl to pay attention, you kiss that girl, you asshole,” I snap.

“Fair point,” he replies, one eyebrow arched.

“Why does everyone have to play games?” I mutter.   – Liza + a certain guy   Loc. 2612

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4 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley

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