Less Than Zero (1985) meets Catcher in the Rye (1951) in this biting bildungsroman.
Whip-smart, 17-year-old speed metal drummer Billy Kinsey has a port-wine stain on his face and a chip on his shoulder. He no longer sees the point in trying to connect with others after watching his twin sister, Dorie, die of cancer and his lottery-winning parents’ marriage disintegrate. All this changes when he meets Twom Twomey, a tattooed dyslexic with the soul of a poet. Together with Deliza, a poor little rich girl who lusts after Twom, and Ephraim, a skinny computer hacker, they take out their anger on the 1 percent by breaking into local mansions and using them as crash pads for eating, playing computer games and sex. Then the unthinkable happens: Billy falls for a girl who’s the sunny opposite of Twom. Now that Billy has something real at stake, his secret life begins to unravel with catastrophic results. Not everyone survives, and Billy is left hoping adults understand “It’s not our fault, really. It’s this age we’re at. The tragic age.” Written in an insightful, frenetic tone that occasionally turns surreal, Metcalfe’s debut novel is a sexy, violent portrayal of disengaged youth attempting to feel something authentic in the antiseptic age of the Internet.
Exhilarating and indicting. (Fiction. 14 & up)