Sixteen-year-old metal head Josh Walker whines his way through life.
Seemingly told through writings in a leather-bound journal given to him by his mother, the book follows Josh as he strives to achieve several goals before his 17th birthday. These goals range from kissing a girl to owning a Randy Rhoads Flying V Jackson guitar. It’s a shame that “gaining a larger sense of perspective” isn’t on the list. Despite presenting a list of objectives, the actual narrative is limp and shapeless. Josh is infuriatingly self-involved, so much so that the first-person perspective thwarts reader engagement. Everyone else in his life is interesting and dynamic and has other things going on, but Josh’s lack of concern for those around him makes it impossible for readers to glean anything beyond minor glimpses into a world with far more involving characters. Instead they get a novel filled with pointless teen grumblings and awkward sexual frustration. Most offensive is the novel’s denouement, which grants this shallow teen’s wishes for material things. Josh gets everything he wanted, and none of it is earned, just falling into his lap for no reason. Josh doesn’t become a better son, brother or friend, which makes the entire enterprise feel pointless.
An exercise in reading frustration. (Fiction. 12-16)