REVIEW: The Bad Decisions Playlist By Michael Rubens

Published:1st August 2016

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 296

Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher

RRP: $19.99

5/5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Austin is always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, stops him cold. Austin—a talented musician himself—is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring music-biz orbit, pulling his true love, Josephine, along with him. None of Austin’s previous bad decisions, resulting in broken instruments, broken hearts, and broken dreams, can top this one. Witty, audacious, and taking adolescence to the max, Austin is dragged kicking and screaming toward adulthood in this hilarious, heart-wrenching YA novel.

This book … man this book is so sensational that I’m immediately putting it in my 2016 top ten list.

The Bad Decisions Playlist is ultimately a coming of age narrative. Dealing with all those hard to answer questions about life – what do I want to do with my life? Who are my real friends? Who can I trust? Am I happy? Who am I? – the narrative itself is equally hard hitting and hilarious at the same time. Sure the narrative itself is a bit messed up in places, but so is life in reality.

The Bad Decisions Playlist is a little gem of a book that I really wish more people had heard about, and that everyone was talking about. It’s not an ugly cry kind of book like The Fault In Our Stars, and it won’t leave you lost or pining for a life you don’t have, but it will take you on an epic adventure as one kid finds out his Dad is a rock star and that his dreams of being a musician might not be as crazy as it seems.

I loved the characters in this book so damn hard. Austin is quirky and let’s face it, rather lost. He succumbs to peer pressure and is a recreational drug user because it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort on his behalf. As a self confessed ladies man, he will do just about anything for a pretty girl and that is where we first meet him and his first, and the book’s catalyst, of many bad decisions that lead him on an uncomfortable, realistic and troubling road of discovering who and what is worth fighting for in life.

Josephine on the other hand is the complete opposite of Austin. Her life is ordered and perfect and coming up daisies. Well until Austin so rudely barges his way through it and uncovers all her families dirty secrets and just how ‘bent’ out of shape she is. Together the pair are honest and real and the perfect book couple. I loved witnessing the slow burn as they got to know each other, really know each for who they were as people individually and not collectively as a group that defined them. I laughed with these guys and shed the odd tear for them, all the while praying that Rubens would give them at least their happy-for-now ending. You’ll have to read the book to find out if he did, because it’s brilliant!

I commend Michael Rubens for creating a book that is funny and relaxed on the surface, but also so full of honest emotion and realistic drama that it shouldn’t work, and yet somehow it just … does.

I highly recommend this book for any fans of Frankie by Shivaun Plozza, and lovers of contemporary young adult books. It’s the perfect lazy summer read to curl up with.


To purchase a copy of The Bad Decisions Playlist , visit the following online retailers:

Booktopia | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld | QBD | Amazon AUS | Amazon US | iBooks AUS | Google Play | Kobo 

To learn more about Michael Rubens, visit the following social media sites:

Author Website |  Goodreads | Penguin Books Australia 




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