The Five

Something about the blurb from this book talked to me as soon as I received the ARC. Add to that the ringing endorsement by Stephen King, and I was hooked! But prior commitments prevented me from giving Robert McCammon's first contemporary novel in nearly twenty years a shot. And yet, the ARC kept mysteriously returning to the top of my pile, demanding that I read it as soon as possible.

When the time came to select books to bring on my latest Eastern European adventure, McCammon's The Five simply wouldn't take no for an answer. So it went into the suitcase, awaiting its slot in the rotation.

Now that I'm done, all I can say is this: If you love rock and roll; if you have ever been in a band, dreaming of one day making it big; if you have ever written a song, or composed music; this is a work that will speak to you on a very profound level. Robert McCammon's The Five is brilliant!

Here's the blurb:

Robert McCammon, author of the popular Matthew Corbett historical thrillers (Speaks the Nightbird, Mister Slaughter), now gives us something new and completely unexpected: The Five, a contemporary novel as vivid, timely, and compelling as anything he has written to date.

The Five tells the story of an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business. As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever.

The narrative that follows is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship, on the nature and importance of families—those we are born into and those we create for ourselves—and on the redemptive power of the creative spirit. Written with wit, elegance, and passionate conviction, The Five lays claim to new imaginative territory, and reaffirms McCammon’s position as one of the finest, most unpredictable storytellers of our time

The premise is pretty straightforward. We follow the tribulations of a struggling rock and roll band called The Five. Things are tough, but they have a new video out and they are embarking on a new tour to promote their stuff. When the tour manager and one of the band members announce that they are calling it quits after this series of gigs, no one knows how to deal with the fact that this is The Five's last tour together. And then, the band comes to the attention of a deranged decorated veteran whose life was changed forever while he was fighting in Iraq. What follows is a terrorizing tale of violence that could break The Five before their tour comes to an end in Austin, Texas.

The backdrop is a richly detailed tapestry of the music industry and the life on the road of a small-fry touring rock and roll band. If you are into music, for that alone The Five is a worthwhile read. But the novel is much more than that. Yes, understandably there are speculative fiction elements -- mainly horror -- to give this story its own unique flavor. Yet what truly sets this work apart is that it's a thought-provoking exploration, beyond the rock and roll angle, of themes such as love, friendship, loyalty, creativity, patriotism, family, and much, much more. When all is said and done, The Five is a powerful and rewarding work that leaves an impression which shall remain with the readers long after they have reached the end of the book.

The characterization is by far the most interesting aspect of this novel. Though the author sometimes jumps from one POV to the next without any clear breaking point in certain scenes, all in all everything works out just fine. Seeing events unfold through the eyes of a somewhat dysfunctional group of protagonists makes for a memorable reading experience. Little by little, McCammon reveals portions of the band members' pasts, fleshing them out in a way that adds another dimension to an already compelling story. I really enjoyed how McCammon also plays with our own preconceptions regarding the characters' personalities. Nomad starts off as the kind of rebel without a cause everyone wants to punch in the head. But before long, as you learn more and more about how he grew up to be like this, it becomes well nigh impossible not to root for the guy. When you reach the last page, you can't help but appreciate Nomad, Ariel, Berke, Mike, and Terry. But there are also poignant moments involving George, the Little Genius, the demented Jeremy Pett, and agent Truitt Allen.

The pace can be a bit uneven at times, especially at the beginning of the book. But when the story kicks into high gear and the narrative grabs hold of you, there is not a dull moment till the end. And the emotional last chapter pulled on my heartstrings in a way that made my eyes water.

If you are looking for something different to bring with you on vacation this summer, look no further. Robert McCammon's The Five is for you!

Long live rock and roll!

The final verdict: 8.25/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and Subpress.

3 commentaires:

Rob said...

Couldn't agree more. Great review

RobB said...

McCammon is a terrific writer. If I'm guessing right, you are on Sub Press's mailing list and you may have received a copy of their special edition of Wolf's Hour. If so, read it. THE best werewolf novel I've ever read.

Werewolves vs. Nazis - 'nuff said.

ScriboErgoSum said...

Almost done with The Five and loving it so far. I highly recommend McCammon's Matthew Corbett series: Speaks the Nightbird, the Queen of Bedlam, and Mister Slaughter. It's chronicling a gritty American colonial version of Sherlock Holmes set in the late 1600's\early 1700's. The fourth book, The Providence Rider, is my most anticipated novel of 2012.

The Five is almost good enough to make me forgive McCammon from taking a break from Matthew Corbett. Almost.