The Intern by Dillon Khan, published by Puffin on 5th April 2012
When Jay Merchant lands an internship for the best job in music television, he is given a backstage pass to the biggest gig of his life. The velvet rope to the biggest VIP parties and hottest celebrities has been lifted and now he's got to capture it on camera. But with only six months to turn his intern dream into a real job, does he have what it takes? It's time to face the music...
Jay has landed an internship at Total BEATS and gets to live and breathe music all day long. Although he's thrown in at the deep end and basically starts off not having a clue what he's doing, he eventually finds his feet and is soon immersed in his new job to the exclusion of all else including his long-suffering girlfriend Sophia and his mother. He loves music and has the opportunity to turn his passion into a paying occupation but finds that his dream job may not be such a dream after all.
'The Intern' is Dillon Khan's first novel and offers a behind the scenes insight into the world of music. Khan himself worked at MTV for eight years so knows all the ins and outs of the industry and provides a realistic and honest portrayal of the highs and lows of working in such an environment. Jay faces long hours, little praise for his work and is surrounded by people who always put themselves first. On the plus side, he gets to meet musicians who he admires, is showered with freebies and never knows quite what he's going to be doing from one day to the next. Although he's living his passion, I like the way there's always a fine line drawn between enjoying his job and hating it.
I think Jay came across as very reminiscent of many young adults who leave university after finishing their degree and then either don't have a clue what they want to do or have the relevant qualifications but are unable to get a job in their chosen field. Although I found Jay's struggle to make a mark for himself in the music world interesting, I didn't one hundred percent connect with him as a character. Admittedly he had grown on me by the end of the book and I'm glad his story ended on a high note but I have to say that he wasn't always that likable and I didn't like the way he sometimes treated the other people in his life. I also found some of the parts in the narrative where he has repeated imaginary conversations in his head with music stars such as Eminem, Whitney Houston and Dido amusing but a bit distracting at times.
Set in the year 2000, my favourite thing about this book was reminiscing over some of the music that was around at the time. Like Jay, I can remember taping songs off the radio onto cassette tapes so that I could listen to that week's big hits over and over again. It's hard to believe now in such a digital age but back then that was the best way (even though it may have been illegal!) to get your hands on all the current songs.
'The Intern' is an enjoyable and fascinating account of what it's actually like to work in the industry. Music lovers in particular will find this an interesting read. However, although I found it a refreshing change of pace from a lot of the paranormal books which are on the shelves at the moment, I just found that all important spark with the main character missing and I do so like a character who I can really root for. This was still an accomplished and impressive debut which I think will appeal especially to the older teen audience.