Unsigned Hype by Booker T. Mattison

Posted by Sherry on 10/11/2009 in 2009, Cybil Awards, General, Music and Hymns, Young Adult Fiction |

O.K., really, really outside my comfort zone. I don’t even know the difference between hip-hop and rap. And when the narrator of this story, fifteen year old Tory Tyson, starts talking about “laying down some banging beats” and “reggaeton tracks”, I’m lost. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this essay into urban fiction from Revell Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group (yes, that’s a Christian publishing house).

The story is classic: Tory’s rise to fame as a rap/hip hop producer is fraught with temptations and with danger to his reputation and even his life. But Tory’s “moms” is praying for him, and he finds a friend who keeps him grounded in discussions of the meaning of absolute truth, character, and integrity. He also gains a girlfriend and loses a best friend in the process. Some of the scenes were a little high on the drama scale: Tory gets arrested at one point, and he survives an attempted shooting. But I think the drama will appeal to young adult readers, and the story doesn’t get too preachy for me, although some non-Christian readers may disagree with my assessment in that area. As Tory says, “Christians are masters of the bait-and-switch. They invite you to something like they’re really interested in being around you, but what they really want to do is turn you over to Jesus.”

I won’t lie; there’s a lot of Jesus stuff in this novel. But there’s also a lot of rap music talk, a lot of growing up, and a lot of figuring out what it means to preserve a man’s integrity. I’m not going to be listening to any hip hop (or rap) artists as a result of reading this novel, and you’re not going to be rooked into becoming a Christian if you’re not one already. However, it gave me a new perspective on the urban music scene, and you might find something of interest here, too.

I nominated this one for the Cybils in the Young Adult Fiction category because it’s fun.

Other views:
Au Courant: “Unsigned Hype astonished me. I was amazed at how someone so culturally different than me could actually be relatable and REAL. It further impressed me with a mature teenager, Tory, as a main character.”


  • This is Booker, author of Unsigned Hype. Thanks for taking the time to read the book and I’m glad that you enjoyed it! I also appreciate the Cybils nomination as well!

    You may be interested to know that a well known Hollywood producer has recently come onboard to produce the film adaptation of the book. Presently, I am writing the screenplay and will direct the film (I’m a filmmaker by trade).

    Finally, be on the lookout for my adult novel, Snitch. It will be published by Baker in early 2011!

  • […] new, and not as well known as they should be: Unsigned Hype by Booker T. Mattison. Semicolon review here. “Tory’s rise to fame as a rap/hip hop producer is fraught with temptations and with danger […]

  • Ari says:

    I just saw this book in the YAnnabe giveaway and I really want to read it but I hadn’t seen ANY reviews of it. So thank you for spotlighting this title. I love learning about unsung YA. Your review has made me even more eager to read it and I hope I win the giveaway, but if not I’ll just buy it/get it from the library =)

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