Thursday, May 14, 2015
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GALLIVANTERS by M. J. Beaufrand
In Portland in 1983, girls are disappearing. Noah, a teen punk with a dark past, becomes obsessed with finding out where they've gone—and he's convinced their disappearance has something to do with the creepy German owners of a local brewery, the PfefferBrau Haus. Noah worries about the missing girls as a way of avoiding the fact that something's seriously wrong with his best friend, Evan. Could it be the same dark force that's pulling them all down?
When the PfefferBrau Haus opens its doors for a battle of the bands, Noah pulls his band, the Gallivanters, back together in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. But there's a new addition to the band: an enigmatic David Bowie look-alike named Ziggy. And secrets other than where the bodies are buried will be revealed. From Edgar-nominated author M. J. Beaufrand, this is a story that gets to the heart of grief and loss while also being hilarious, fast paced, and heartbreaking.
My thoughts on the book:
As someone who moved to Chicago in the early 2000s because of the resurgence of the punk scene (though it was different and more of a pop punk scene, it was still glorious), I generally love books about the original US punk scene. Novels like this are usually gritty and realistic and speak to a part of me that the fantasy books I adore can't. However, this book didn't speak to me at all. It was lacking in all aspects: character development, plot development, writing, descriptions. This concept had the potential to be a fantastic story, but instead fell flat. Needless to say, this book was a big disappointment.
This novel was told from Noah's perspective. It was his first person account of his life, and while a lot of things happened that should have made his life exciting, the whole thing was dull, probably because he was dull. For a punk, Noah was extremely boring. He didn't really have a personality, and the way he spoke was forced. It seemed like the author just read some dictionary of punk words and tried to make boring and plain Noah use them. It didn't work for me. Evan also didn't grab me, and I couldn't make myself care about his well-being because he didn't seem like a real person. He was very flat and one dimensional. Ziggy wasn't half as exciting and mysterious as the author intended, either. Sonia was a cliche of what non-punk guys think punk girls should be/are. Everything really just made a mockery of the whole US Scene.
The plot was ridiculous, and with Noah's details - or lack thereof - about his plans, there were times that it was hard to make sense of what he was thinking. Also, with missing girls and whatever, you'd think that there would be some excitement or tension in the plot. Nope, not really. It was so flat that it took me forever to get through this novel. I just couldn't bring myself to care. However, I kept reading in hopes that it'd somehow get better and be the book I knew it could be. The writing was pretty forced and terrible. The descriptions were lacking. I wasn't able to really achieve a willing suspension of disbelief, and I wasn't invested in the book at all. The ending even bored me.
Overall, I'd say skip this one. It doesn't do the memory of the US Punk Scene any favors, and it doesn't reflect it accurately.