Unsigned Hype by Booker T. Mattison

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.”

3 thoughts on “Unsigned Hype by Booker T. Mattison

  1. 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!

  2. Ari

    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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