Echo After Echo

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2017

Member Reviews

Didn't realize this was f/f until I started reading it! Love it! we need more great stories about girls falling in love with girls that are more than just a romance!
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It's so rare to find a book where the main characters are LGBTQ and their love story isn't engulfed in stigma or cultural acceptance. For me what makes Echo After Echo so wonderful is that at its core it's a love story that is not contrived, forced or surrounded in stigma. 

The Love Story
Perhaps this will not make sense to some, but I just have to say that for me (a bi-sexual woman), it is so refreshing to read a story where a woman falls in love with another woman and the basis of that love has nothing to do with discovering their sexuality, determining their 'preference' or even circumstance. Instead it's just an easy, natural love story. Whether it was between two women, two men, or a man and a woman it wouldn't matter. It's clear that Amy Rose Capetta has experienced true love and understands that it's not about what type of person you fall in love with but who. The actual person and personality of that person, not their sexuality. It has so much less to do with gender than most people are likely to understand. Capetta takes this knowledge she has and translates it to the reader in a natural and perfect way. 

The Theatre
Having never had the desire to be an actor (of any kind) I was concerned that Echo After Echo would be too 'theater-y' for me. In the past I've read stories where knowing or caring about theatre culture or the culture of whatever niche group is involved have been all encompassing and made the book dull. That is definitely not the case here. While you may learn a number of things about the theatre including: auditioning, lighting, rehearsals, memorization, costuming, etc., the only really important thing to know is that this group of theatre folks is very close to one another, like family. I would compare the theatre portion of the book like the ballet in Black Swan, while important it could easily be replaced by any niche, professional group and the core story would not change. 

The Mystery
I'm not big into reading murder mysteries and certainly that is not why I was interested in Capetta's story. However here the murder mystery side of the story, while very relevant to the overall plot arc and our lead gal's character development, is not the focus of the story. Whether you determine any part of the mystery out in advance is mostly irrelevant (until the last couple chapters). As at its core, Echo After Echo is a story of a teen acting on her dream and falling in love where love wasn't looked for and may not be safe to engage in. 

Overall
I'd easily have give Echo After Echo 5 stars just for it's brilliant love story. However I can also say that at no time did I want to put it down, or avoid picking it back up. It's a solid read that I think almost anyone can enjoy. Because it hits on many different novel genres I believe there is something here for anyone that may want to find it. 
I truly hope that many people pick this up without knowing it's a LGBTQ love story and find themselves suddenly enamoured with Capetta's brilliant story only to realize much later that the love story was between two women (and that maybe there was relevance to their lack of 'noticing'). Capetta has truly done her community justice by creating a love story that is irrefutable and genuine. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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I am passionate about recommending #OwnVoices novels for my students. It provides them a worldview that I'll never be able to provide. Echo After Echo is a lovely f/f romance, which is something I'm severely lacking in my classroom shelves. It marries together romance and theater and murder mystery, which are all some of my favorite things. I loved my time with Zara and Eli. Their romance was beautiful. It was consuming. I loved everything about them.
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Continuing my hunt for a life-ruining (in all the best ways) f/f OTP, I requested Echo After Echo. Spoiler alert: this is not my ship of dreams. The good news is that the book itself is really well-executed and stunningly theatrical.

Let’s get the sad part over with first: the ship is the worst part. I really hate how often I say that with f/f romances. LET ME LOVE YOU. Zara and Eli absolutely instalove on each other. There’s scarcely an attempt to make it anything other than that. Add in some forbidden romance, because the director doesn’t want his lead distracted, and it’s very much not a Christina ship. It’s not an unship, but it’s very much a shrug.

However, I absolutely loved both the writing (heart-achingly beautiful prose? uhhh, idk maybe) and the plotting. Though the play featured is an invented Greek tragedy, there’s something Shakespearean to the cursed show, and there’s a beautiful usage of the play within a play trope. Everything that happens plot-wise feels very studied and very aware of the tropes and histories of the theater, and oh it’s dark and delicious.

For the writing, what I want to call out is the multiple POV. While I love multiple points of view in theory, they so often end up weakening a narrative, because the voices aren’t strong enough or distract from the flow of the narrative, especially when they’re really short chapters. Here, they’re done in third person, and you end up in the head of pretty much every cast member at some point. Rather than feeling gimmicky, forced, or distracting, everything really comes together perfectly. Capetta manages to give all the key elements of the mystery without actually telegraphing the twists. It is absolutely brilliantly done, and I applaud. Perhaps just as impressive, despite crossing 400 pages, it doesn’t feel long.

The craft on Echo After Echo is totally on point. Though I didn’t get the feels from this one, I would absolutely recommend it to folks who love theater, murder mysteries, or multiple POVs done well.
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As a queer woman, I live for every opportunity to read an f/f romance story, especially when it involves girls just coming into their own and coming to accept their sexuality, so I will go ahead and say that the romance aspect of this story was totally precious and sweet. That said, I think this book was 100% *not* for me, sadly. I'm not a theatre fan in any way, shape or form, so the Broadway-esque bits were already lost on me. On top of that, I really struggle with YA mysteries in general, and was totally unable to bring myself to care very much about the "suspense" in this book. All of that said, since I do think it's more of an issue with my personal tastes and less of a problem with the book itself, I'd still highly recommend it to anyone who feels this book will fit their wheelhouse more than it did mine!
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DNFed at page 78. The writing was really good but I just could not get into the story. I didn't connect with the characters or feel any excitement about this book.
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The perfect mix of mystery, coming of age, and young lesbian romance, I have been reccing this book left and right to my teen library patrons.
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It's a really interesting topic and characters but the actual story was just meh. I didn't really think the plot was that great. It moved really slowly and I just got really bored.
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Did not finish -wasn't was I was expecting. Not bad, just not in my interests.
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I see why this book is getting the hype, its got a lot of passion and great characters in it. 4/5 stars
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Eh, not for me. I just didn't ever connect with the story like I'd hope to.
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WHAT I LOVED:
Something tells me more than a few actresses could read this book and say afterwards "yep, some of this is 100% accurate." Zara's audition for the role of Echo in Echo and Ariston on Broadway sees her get the part regardless of her lack of experience and in the weeks leading up to her moving to New York City, she develops a close relationship with Leopold, the show's director. I think you already know what kind of things he inflicts upon Zara, like propositioning her and trying to control her offstage and generally being a massive creep.

That is honestly just the start of how awful Leopold is as a person and how many lives he's wrecked. Trust me, there's a lot more. (Honestly, I did not plan to focus on this, but look at the entertainment industry's wave of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault allegations against so many major players. Echo After Echo knew what was going on in Hollywood as well as on Broadway.)

But Zara and Eli, our two main characters, share the majority of third-person POV duties and their unfolding romance is the real focus of the story. Though Zara worries Leopold will find out when he explicitly told her not to get into a relationship because he thinks he has that right to dictate her love life, something else looms: the curse on the Aurelia, the theater where Echo and Ariston is performing.

Through stellar writing and an incredible sense of atmosphere, the Aurelia is practically a character itself whispering into Zara's ear about what's happened within its walls. For a century, every production there has been cursed with accidents and deaths. The curse, according to the rumors, always comes in threes and it always ends on opening night--and from the looks of it, the death of the lightning designer Roscoe is just the first curse incident out of three.

Though there's no one living in or under the theater making these things happen, Echo After Echo has a very Phantom of the Opera feel to it as it builds up to the second strike--another death--and third strike of the curse. The strong characterization of Eli and Zara ups the tension as well, making you worried the third strike might fall upon one of them.

WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
At 432 pages, Echo After Echo is a bit too long, however. There's a significant lull in events during the book that may make you put it down for a while. Though I love when Ariston's actor Adrian Ward gets POV sections that strengthen his characterization, he's a minor player in the overall story. The climactic scene sees everyone of note involved somehow, but Adrian is the least involved of all. All he does there is give a letter from Zara to Eli! Though he's characterized like a main character, he's very nearly a bit player.

FINAL VERDICT:
Echo After Echo is an intelligent, dark, and haunting book starring gay girls who get their happy ending, the wonderful and terrible world of theater, and the possibility of a curse. You shouldn't need to hear anything more to convince you of this book! Skipping it means missing out on one of the most memorable, atmospheric settings of the year and so much more.
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This is shamefully the first book I’ve ever read with a f/f relationship as the main focus. I’ve read books with female couples on the side but not as the center focus of the story. That’s the main reason I decided to read this book since I’ve never read it before.

The book also follows a young actress trying to make it in the theater world, another topic I haven’t read about. On top of all of that there’s also the mystery of crew members dying in ways that make it seem like accidents.

So basically I was really excited to read this book since it ticked off a lot of the boxes of books I haven’t read before – something I’ve been trying to do this year. I’d like to say that I really enjoyed this book. It did take me about 50-100 pages to get engaged in the story, but once I was I couldn’t keep my eyes off the book!

Our main character Zara is bisexual and has been obsessed with the Greek play, Echo and Ariston, most of her life. When she auditions and get the part as the title character Echo at one of the biggest theaters in the world, she is ecstatic. But. Then people start dying and she doesn’t think that they’re accidents like they’re made to look.

“People who truly need to hurt you don’t make a show of it. They find quiet ways.”

I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of this book because although there was also a romance plot and the entire play going on, Capetta was able to evenly distribute each part of this story throughout the novel. She never gave away too much to where you could figure out who was murdering the crew members but she also didn’t keep the readers completely in the dark, as she switched perspectives.

That’s also something I really liked about this story, the multiple point of views. This book was written in third person, which worked well for the way she told the story. We had Zara’s point of view, Eli’s, Leopold’s, and nearly every other member of the theater crew’s as well. Every person had a secret that you kept on trying to guess as you read.

The relationship between Zara and Eli felt a bit rushed to me, as there weren’t very many memorable interactions between them before they decided that they liked each other, which I didn’t like all that much because something I always look for in a romance is growth and slow build. But when the girls were actually together my heart fluttered with them. I absolutely loved their relationship and I thought it was written very well. I think this might be because this book is an own voices book.

“Being an actor is all about finding keys from the real world that open imaginary locks.”

As much as I think the characters were great and uniquely fleshed-out, I felt a disconnection from myself and Zara. This might be due to the third person it was written in but I could never quite connect with Zara during any moments of the book, which is sad because I really wanted to.

That aside, I loved the diversity in this book. Zara, like I mentioned earlier, is bisexual, though Eli is the first girl she’s been with. She’s Jewish as well! Eli is Puerto-Rican and gay. There’s also a side character that’s gay. Though the diversity was great and I thought it was written perfectly, I wish there had maybe been more.

The plot moved at a perfect pace but by the end I felt like there should have been more closure. The ending shocked me even though I probably should have seen it coming. There were a few loose ends that weren’t tied up like I wish they had been – it would have only needed another 5 pages or so.

Overall a really great read if you’re looking for something mysterious and gripping, but light and fluffy at times. If I weren’t such a slow reader I would have been able to breeze through this in a mere day or two.

TW for mention(s) of: suicide, eating disorders, rape, homophobia
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This was a fun read! Capetta's strength really lies in the more romantic parts of the book. I love the way she wrote Zara and Eli's relationship, Zara coming out, and the connection to the fictional greek play/Echo-iness. The mystery part was a little less engaging, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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I excitedly requested Echo After Echo because I’d been looking forward to it; I’ve gotten into theater a lot lately (though not quite in an actor way) and haven’t seen many fictional books about drama kids, which hasn’t been helpful since I’m currently trying to capture some of that community in my own writing. Furthermore, a female/female love story featuring a bi girl always perks my interest.

So, I had the contemporary mindset going in, the genre I read mostly. But oh man, is this a mystery story, and a good one. The atmosphere is creepy from the beginning–I mean, Zara finds a dead body when she first arrives at the theater! And almost everyone in the theater is weird and mysterious–or, at least, not very friendly at first, including the creepy famous director, Leopold, who can get away with way too much power abuse because he’s “brilliant.” He also has visions, and coupled with the theater’s curse, I wondered if there was something supernatural going on. But because of Zara and Eli’s budding relationship, the mystery doesn’t take the forefront in the middle, so it doesn’t drag or rely solely on its (well-constructed) plot, constantly asking you to question it. And then they seem to figure it out, but…it isn’t what it seems. Which was AMAZING because I did not expect the level of complexity to the mystery in a book I regarded as a contemporary–and that more or less tricks you into believing you’re reading one in the middle.

But aside from the mystery, Zara/Eli is written with great amounts of suspense and swoon, keeping them apart for just the right time to keep the page turning without growing exhausting. It’s established early on that Zara and Eli like girls (though Eli doesn’t know Eli does for a while), and that Zara’s dated and kissed boys, too. So this wasn’t a discovery story in that respect, which tend to dominate LGBTQ stories (albeit for a reason–but it’s not the be-all-end-all). Yet, Zara isn’t completely figured out yet; she tries to come out to her family and also says “I’m bisexual” when she’s absolutely sure. THE WORD! It used the word, even when it was easy to infer! (Bi people always have to come out over and over again, or else they’re assumed to be either gay or straight.) Also, isn’t it great there’s queer representation in different genres (mystery in this case) from the usual contemporaries?

Echo After Echo is written in third person omniscient, with different chapters centering on different characters, although certainly Zara is focused on the most. This allowed for plenty of insight into the other characters’ psyches, preventing them from being weird types. Additionally, I just really liked the writing–there were quite a few turns of phrases I highlighted. (I would give examples, but ARCs are not final so we can’t quote from them!)

The theater was a refreshing (albeit dark and mysterious setting); it was nice seeing a YA book where the teenage characters are not in high school. Zara did apply to colleges to attend after she finishes her run in the play, and certainly not everyone can be a working artist at the age, but it was a great glimpse into that life.

I honestly have few negative things to say. I began to wish Adrien had more depth than the shallowness and awareness of fan-pleasing you’d expect from a young, hot male movie star, but then I was pleasantly surprised with more backstory and comments on how he stumbled into the business and how fame affected his life and relationships.

Now I need to get a finished, physical copy for my future classroom…
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Echo After Echo is not really a murder mystery, or a romance, or a coming of age story, but a little bit of all of those. Zara is an inexperienced young actress who is shocked when legendary director Leopold Henneman offers her the lead role in his new play based on the myth of Echo.

Zara packs up and moves to New York for rehearsals, where she is faced with a bunch of stuff: the jealousy of some of the rest of the cast, Henneman’s moodiness, her magnetic male co-star,  mysterious death in the production, rumors of a curse in the theater.

I thought that one of the  themes of Echo After Echo was the roles we play in life (and love!) — do we go thought the motions and do what’s expected of us or do we go off-script and forge our own path? When Zara falls for a girl who’s working as the assistant lighting director, she’s faced with a choice. The expedient thing to do would be to agree to a fauxmance with her hunky male co-star, but she finds it hard to turn her back on a relationship that could be something real.

She also has to decide how to handle the director, who turns out to be a bit creepier and more controlling than she expected. Let’s just say … shades of Harvey Weinstein. This book is very topical on matters of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and does a great job of showing the real emotional toll that women in that industry face.

The murder mystery aspect of the book was interesting — people associated with the show are mysteriously dying, and some people suggest the theater is cursed. I’m not giving up any spoilers on that, but the resolution was far more interesting and resonant than I expected.

I thought Echo After Echo was a beautifully-written book that wasn’t quite like anything I’d read before. If you like theater-themed books, are looking for a great f/f romance, and love books that are a little out-of-the-box in terms of genre, definitely give this a try!
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3.5/5 stars.

Echo After Echo follows an actress named Zara Evans who has just gotten her first big break. She is cast as Echo in the Greek tragedy Echo & Ariston, a play directed by the well-known director Leopold Henneman, and held at the iconic Aurelia Theatre. Leopold is demanding to the point of where things are somewhat disturbing, and he often places his actors in uncomfortable scenarios, but it's all in the name of his art, right? 

Echo After Echo is, at it's heart, a mystery novel. Shortly after being cast as Echo, Zara watches Leopold's lighting director fall to his death. This death is unfortunately not the last that occurs during Zara's time as Echo. The lighting director's death is pegged as an accident, but of course Zara doesn't believe this and tries to uncover the mystery. Everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. While we have this mystery going on, there is also a budding F/F romance forming between Zara and the lighting director's assistant, Eli. The romance is a nice addition to the story and never feels forced or unnatural. 

I loved the atmosphere created by the author, Echo After Echo shows just how cutthroat the drama world can be. It is successful in painting a beautiful imagine of the stage, the costumes, and the city. Amy Rose Capetta was also successful in creating a diverse and interesting cast of characters. Each character is unique and important to the story.

The writing is a double edged sword. It is straightforward and simple. Each sentence of the novel is short, giving it a hypnotic, rhythmic feeling. While the writing was extremely enjoyable, the major down side to this type of writing style is that it makes it more difficult to connect with the characters. While I throughly enjoyed each character, I wanted just a bit more from the characterization. 

Near the end of the novel I started making predictions in regards to the ending. My predictions were incorrect, yet somehow the actual outcome felt predictable and unbelievable. The story also had a somewhat abrupt ending that left me wanting more. 

Overall, the fast paced story, interesting characters, lyrical writing, and short chapters make this a quick enjoyable read.
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Oh my god. Can I sing the praises of this book enough? 2017 is a year of great thrillers and this one is right up there with Little Monsters. I was on the edge of my seat to the very end of this one and I did not see the twist coming. 

Zara Larson is one of the most real characters I've read in ages. I felt like she could be my best friend but also another facet of me. Her journey to and on the stage is a journey of self discovery and how far one is willing to go to achieve their dreams. 

Zara's relationship with Eli is wonderful and real. I loved watching how their feelings unfolded and how they finally came together. Queer girl romances are the best. There is on page labeling, which makes it even better. Plus I loved the little struggle of "is she really gay or am I reading too much into this?" I have plenty of those moments. 

The play was a beautiful backdrop for this novel and what the author was trying to achieve. A doomed love story set in a cursed theatre? Yes please. 

The writing on this one is probably the best I've read all year. It was lush and fantastic. I couldn't put it down. Honestly, it's magic. You get swept up into the magic of the theatre, of the love story, and of Zara Larson herself.
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This book has the perfect elements of mystery, suspense and romance! I was afraid that I would not like this book because of the theater like elements but I was so wrong. It was actually one of the things I loved most about this book. AND there is a f/f romance AND one of the characters is bi.  The writing is lyrical and enchanting. What more do you need from this book? Everyone needs this book!!
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This book is grace wrapped in beauty and I loved it.

Zara has dreamed of playing Echo in Echo and Ariston for as long as she can remember. When she auditions for the great Leopold Henneman, she doesn't expect to be cast... but here she is, sneaking into the beautiful Aurelia theatre through the alley door, living her dream... and standing over a dying man.

Bit by bit, the players pick away at her, the director builds her up and breaks her down. And there are more deaths in the Aurelia. And, even more unexpected, Zara finds herself falling in love.

Amy Rose Capetta is a stunning writer.

The story was lovely. The writing is lyrical and wraps around you like a summer wind, like sweet lilacs... I found myself dwelling on the words just as much as the characters and the plot. And yet... it was not overwhelmingly wordy or cluttered. The word choices made it magical.

At the heart of this is Zara. She chooses such interesting phrasing, some of her dialogue sounding like butterflies and whimsies instead of idle words. She's very easy to fall in love with.

The mystery was fabulous.

I wasn't able to predict the coming deaths or the murderer, though I had theories. You're wrapped in a world with actors, who are very good at their jobs. I suspected everybody. Sometimes, I got so wrapped up in the love story, I forgot about the murder mystery! You never forget about the love story, though. Love and loss is masterfully woven through the story.

Zara is an LGBTQ+ heroine and I thought she was well-represented. I don't want to give much away about the love story because I thought it was magical and my favorite bits of the story were between the love story and the stage itself... but I was really pleased with the way the story rolled out in this way.

This book is going to be added to my personal library.

Somewhere between the magic of the theatre and the beauty of the language, I need to add this book to my personal library.

I'm having a difficult time letting this story go. It's exquisite and I need to have it. I ABSOLUTELY recommend this book, especially if you're a thespian, or if you've ever been in love.
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