by Steven Camden

published on January 30th, 2014 by HarperCollins Children’s
young adult | fantasy | loss

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Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story.

Book Review


I ended up getting this as an ARC at last year’s BEA.  The concept reminded me a little of Landline by Rainbow Rowell, except instead of hearing the past on a phone and having conversations, Ameliah is only hearing the recordings a boy made 10 years before.  But the connection may be stronger than she realizes…

I LOVED the twist. The connection between Ameliah and Ryan is deeper, and their end is not what you’d expect.  Even though I guessed the twist pretty early on, it was satisfying to see that I was right, and it gave this story a fresh look at the time travel game.

I LOVED the family dynamics. Ryan’s father has remarried and brought a surly step brother with him.  Ameliah’s parents have both died in separate incidents, and she’s now living with her Nan and trying to sort through her feelings.  Family is often left out in YA, but Camden did a great job of showing the sibling relationships, the difficulties of feeling at home when the people have changed, the little bonding moments.  I especially liked the relationship between Ryan and his stepbrother, and watching it change.

I LIKED the characters. Ryan was sort of dorky and awkward.  There’s a moment where he’s climbing over a fence, gets his pants caught on the top, and falls to the ground–with his underpants showing and his pants inside out.  It was pretty hysterical.  Ameliah is kind of sweet and melancholy.  She’s a bit more typical teenage girl.

I LIKED the lesser focus on romance.  Yes, shocker!  Romance and making out isn’t the main focus of the story!  There are crushes and such, but it’s so much more about friendship and family.  I knew there had to be some book out there like that.

I HAD NO STRONG FEELINGS about the writing and pacing.  It was okay.  It was a little slow and the writing was solid but nothing that made me go OMGBEAUTIFULMUSTQUOTE.  It felt a little more juvenile than some of the YA that I prefer.

I DISLIKED the chapter format.  The book is divided into chapters, but each chapter may contain both narrations.  What changed was the font.  The first time this happened, I read for several pages before realizing that I was now experiencing a totally different person.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book that would make a great light summer read.

Skulls 3


About C.J.

I’m a font of useless knowledge and an endless source of sarcasm. Oh, and I guess I read, too.

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19 thoughts on “Mini Review: Tape by Steven Camden

    1. I hope you like it! There are definitely people who loved it way more than I did. Not sure how the chapters ended up looking in the finished copy…hopefully they made the voice changes more obvious.


  1. Hmmm, I don’t even remember this one from last year’s BEA O.O Don’t feel too bad though, I still have ARC’s from last year’s BEA too (and the year before actually shhhh >.<) This really does sound like the perfect Summer read. I've been dabbling in Contemporaries a bit more so I'll have to add this to my tbr shelf :)


    1. I guess “time travel” is a bit misleading because the only thing that travels are their voices. So if that doesn’t bother you, it may be worth a shot.


    1. That’s at least how they did it in the ARC. I’m hoping that they made it clearer in the final version, because the fonts were NOT different enough, or else I’m just blind.


  2. Ryan sounds completely adorable, as does Ameliah! The family dynamics sound great, especially with the sibling relationships and the one with him and his stepbrother. The lesser focus on romance is a win in my books as well. Lovely review C.J.!


  3. I would totally be confused by POV changes strictly by font. I’ve seen other books like this, but it was also by the chapter which made it easier. I’m sure I’d be lost several times with the font changes. Glad you overall enjoyed this one! :)


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