Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse

Title: Rockoholic
Author: C.J. Skuse
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: November 1, 2012
Pages: 358 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

RockoholicShe's got it bad, and he ain't good -- he's in her garage?

"I'm your biggest fan, I'll follow you until you love me..." 

Gonna have to face it: Jody's addicted to Jackson Gatlin, frontman of The Regulators, and after her best bud Mac scores tickets, she's front and center at his sold-out concert. But when she gets mashed in the moshpit and bodysurfs backstage, she's got more than a mild concussion to deal with. By the next morning, the strung-out rock star is coming down in her garage. Jody -- oops -- kind of kidnapped him. By accident. With a Curly Wurly candy bar. And now he doesn't want to leave.

It's a rock-star abduction worthy of an MTV reality series...but who got punk'd?!


Review:


A few weeks ago, sixteen-year-old Emily Baker got a book deal with Penguin to take her One Direction fanfic Loving the Band and turn it into an original novel, which will go on sale as an ebook November 1st. As the editor who acquired it said, they'd been looking to commission an author who could tap into the boy band mania for some time. I have a boatload of issues with this deal, the legal implications of it, and the publishing house did it rather than the author doing a pull-to-publish deal first, but that's another story.

Rockoholic is a distant relative of that story. Distant because it did not start out as a fanfic and it's more focused on rock stars than boy bands. Also, the trope of a girl meeting members of the band and one or more members falling in love with her? It gets torn to shreds in Rockoholic to great effect. Equal parts funny and sad, Skuse's novel is a great way to whittle away the hours and see how our idols are rarely who we expect them to be.

The initial premise of Jody kidnapping her rock idol Jackson Gatlin with a Curly Wurly bar (they look like this) requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief to make it work. As Jody informs us, it's also a melted Curly Wurly bar, so it isn't as straight as it appears in the picture, and Jackson believes it's a knife. He would need to be pretty heavily strung out on drugs for that to seem possible. To be fair, he is strung out on drugs enough to strip naked and toss all his clothes off a bridge shortly thereafter.

For the funny half of the novel, Jody's interactions with Jackson can be funny at times and the punny/silly chapter titles (Must Hang Sally; Softly, Softly, Catch a Junkie; Please Don't Feed the Diva) managed a few giggles out of me too. It's not a difficult story to get invested in, especially once the rock-star-falls-in-love-with-groupie trope starts getting subverted.

On the other hand, it's a quiet exploration of how fame has changed Jackson and turned him into a drug addict who has to take red berries just to get on stage for his shows and then take blackberries to calm him down again. He used to love the spotlight and making music, but now it only makes him miserable. Worse, he can't escape. The band manager's ire at Jackson's disappearance leaves one band member with broken bones, an ambulance woman in need of plastic surgery, and a roadie on life support after being beaten to a pulp. I don't blame Jackson for refusing to go back to the band. As he comes down off the drugs and starts to be a person rather than an idea (and a demanding one that that, considering how he treats Jody initially), he starts to take over the story.

Still, Jody has her own story that takes the stage. Her grandfather has just died (of crashing through the window of a lingerie store in his wheelchair, natch; just the way he'd want to go), she has a dead-end job at a daycare center, and she has a lot of issues with her mom and sister. The grandfather's death felt a little like a plot device sometimes, such as when Jody's inheritance from him moves the plot along, but more often, it feels like something real that has affected her and leads her to all the places she goes in this novel.

But Jody. Oh, Jody. Her schemes to hide Jackson range from taking pictures of him in the Italian District to make it look like he's in Italy (which backfires badly in the end) to telling a reporter who knows the photos were taken in the Italian District that she was actually in Italy to take the photos (which can easily be debunked by talking to people) and all of them are terrible. She's such a dim bulb that she no longer lights up and it can be difficult to deal with. She is rightfully called out on her stupidity throughout the story, but some ideas were just too dumb for a good call-out to make me forgive.

And deciding her best friend was gay because of his interests and holding that position for years? Ugh. I'm glad everyone told her off on how dumb that was.

I'd be happy to read more of C.J. Skuse's novel, provided the main characters have a few more brain cells than Jody.

3.5 stars!



What am I reading next?: Undeadly by Michele Vail