Genre: Literary fiction / humour
Zero is the latest craze. Young, sexy and brilliant, he is a multi-hyphenated (singer-songwriter-rapper-producer) superstar for the digital generation. According to his publicist at least. He’s also a narcissistic, insecure, hyperactive, coke-snorting, pill-popping, loud-mouthed maelstrom of contradictions skating over the thin ice of terminal self-loathing. He has touched down in New York with his sycophantic entourage for the launch of a new single/album/movie/tour.
It is countdown to Year Zero. But the boy at the centre of the media feeding frenzy is cracking up. Inside the echo chamber of his own skull, he isn't sure he deserves all the attention, doesn’t even know if he wants it anymore and is being driven half-mad by the mysterious absence of the love of his life.
As the crucial hour approaches the young star cuts and runs, setting off on a wild trip across America pursued by paparazzi, fans, fortune hunters and his Mephistophelian manager, Beasley. He’s about to find out that when you have the most famous face in the world, you can run… but you can't hide.
This is a dynamic, fast-paced novel full of comedic genius.
This book follows Zero - a hedonistic, iconic pop star on the brink of his solo release and sell-out tour. We are thrust into a standard morning for Zero as he spends the pre-dawn hours with his entourage, attending publicity interviews and celebrity hangouts before he runs away, unaware of where he's headed apart from a desperate urge to track down his enigmatic fiancé.
I found this book hilarious, hard hitting in places and compelling as we follow Zero through various random locations and scenarios in his bid to escape the limelight. The characters that play a part in his breakout are in turns bizarre and brilliant as we learn more about our main character through his adventures.
This novel piqued my attention with it's premise surrounding the music industry; I spent many years working in music shops and am always drawn to novels that have this at the forefront. Never before though have I read a novel where the author has such a presence within the industry. I've yet to read Killing Bono (though I'll be picking it up soon) but as a U2 fan myself, the music geek within me was interested to learn that the title for this had been suggested by Bono himself.
As well as music, the story has themes of family, belonging and the guise of 'celebrity'. I included a mini review in a recent post when I had just started reading and raised trigger warnings for drug use and mental health issues. While these did play a part in the narrative, the story takes us beyond that as we see past the 'celebrity' mask and learn about Zero while he tries to find his way through the obstacles that stand in his way.
Neil McCormick is of course a revered music journalist, and that lends an amusing authenticity to the situations that Zero finds himself in. I'd recommend this to anyone who shares with me a dry sense of humour, sarcasm and a respect and love for rock and roll.
Thanks to Anne Cater, Unbound and Neil McCormick for including me on this blog tour and for sending me a copy of the book to review.