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A young, burned-out musician finds himself drawn to the talented frontman of the band that’s employing him as a roadie.

Grieving a recent loss, Micah is marking time while working for a band he’s always admired in Lang’s (Half, 2017) rocker romance. As he and Bellamy, the band’s singer/songwriter, start a slow-burn love affair, Micah struggles to separate his fan adoration from this relationship, which bears palimpsests of past loves for each of them. His first-person point of view enhances the sense of a groupie crushing on an underground hipster celebrity while staying cool. Meanwhile, Bellamy's rock-star polish is a veneer concealing his own worries about old choices and new musical challenges. The pair are sketched like characters in yaoi manga, the Japanese Boy Love genre, complete with bangs and emo arguments. The stilted dialogue, possibly meant to imitate youthful indecision, surfaces in clumps between long stretches of description and angst-ridden self-scrutiny. The underdeveloped characters and teen-diary–like passages mar an otherwise valuable portrayal of how an anxiety disorder affects seemingly functional people (like Bellamy) and erratically shapes all aspects of their lives. The band's unofficial manager, Quinn, is a more intriguing character for his lack of navel-gazing and almost demands his own story. The music festival/road trip trope also verges on something poignant but is oddly dated, as if a recounting of secondhand stories of Woodstock or Vans Warped Tour. The overall effect is of a m/m boy-band fan-fic YA recast unconvincingly as a new-adult romance.

A pair of pretty musicians, a hesitant attraction that flowers on a concert bus tour, and sophomoric sensibilities trying to grapple with existential questions. For fans of boy manga and K-pop.

Pub Date: July 17th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62649-591-3
Page count: 253pp
Publisher: Riptide
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2017


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