Fandom Is a Complicated Culture
Fandom is a complicated culture. ~Goldy Moldavsky, KILL THE BOY BAND
I loved this book. It's a refreshing feeling when you find a book that stands out the way
It's a refreshing feeling when you find a book that stands out the way KILL THE BOY BAND does. The book boasts itself at "The most shocking debut of the year" and I think it might be right. This isn't the YA novel we're used to. It's like a fangirl version of Scream Queens and Mean Girls. It follows four fangirls who idolize a British mega pop band called The Ruperts. They are named so because each of the four boys is named Rupert. They end up kidnapping Rupert P, the least talented one, and the "ugly" one. Every band boy has one. (Chris Kirpatrick, anyone?) What was meant as an opportunity to get as close as possible to the Boys ends up with girls committing a felony. Things get out of hand.
Each girl is at various stages of fandom. There's Isabel: The Tough One. She's Dominican, runs a fansite dedicated to The Ruperts, online harasses people who hate The Ruperts, and blackmails her way into being the #1 source for The Ruperts. She's seen them so often that it gets to the point where she's at the end of her fandom, and more in it for the hits she gets on her website. There's Erin. She's like Emma Roberts in every role she plays. She's the Beautiful One and Mean One all at the same time. Her story arc and twist are compelling and shocking. There's Apple. The Crazy One. She's Chinese and adopted. Without Apple, the group of girls wouldn't be able to secure the hotel room they need in order to carry out their plans. Apple is the target of fat shaming from the other girls. They're friends, but not. This trial is what forces them to remain as a unit even if the only thing that they truly have in common is The Ruperts themselves. Once that tie is broken, what do they have left when it comes to friendship?
Finally, there's our unreliable narrator. She goes by many names, usually plucked from popular 80s movies. The final and most prominent identity is Sloane from Ferris Bueler's Day Off. "Sloane" is the Innocent One. She's the voice of reason and law in this slice into crime and murder. The best part of this novel is the use of the Unreliable Narrator. Do we trust Sloane? We shouldn't, but she frames the story to make herself come out as the good one. Even she tells the reader, breaking the fourth wall constantly, that she very well could make herself as the "Innocent" when she should be or could be the "Crazy" one. There's a very real moment when Sloane wonders what is the truth in her web of lies. She is a writer of fanfic, after all. What if this is just one more of her elaborate stories she makes up.
Another wonderful aspect of the narrative is the use of modern dialect and internet slang. Gosh, saying that makes me feel a tad old. But it's true. Sloane speaks the way the internet does. She offers a reflection on fandoms, the mad frenzy of loving someone you only know through music or film. The rush that comes with knowing the intimate details through gossip website and Twitter and stolen photos. (I did learn a new term: Citizen Pap. No that kind of pap. It's Citizen Paparazzi. Duh.) Sloane slowly starts to come out of her fangirl craze and starts seeing other fangirls through the eyes of their critiques. The entire time I think, why is is that when girls love something it is easily dismissed? There's a pivotal moment that summarizes my takeaway from this book. It's when Sloane is speaking to an adult male:
Are never taken seriously.
"...should find a nice hobby."
But we should be taken seriously. We can be amazing. And dangerous.
KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky is a crazy, ultra modern ride into the world of fangirls everywhere. With ROTFL moments and girls that are as smart as they are mean, as cunning as they are unreliable, this satire is a must read.
*Bonus points for cleverly threading in boy band lyrics throughout the novel. #ItsTheHardestThingIllEverHaveToDo.