Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band. We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group. We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts. How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
Kill the Boy BandFeatured
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.
Every time I open my mouth to talk about this book, all that comes out is an awe-soaked expletive. It's that kind of book. I used to hate how the cover looked like a placeholder, but now that I've read the book, I don't think there's a better image. Pink to represent the femininity associated with boy band fandom (because they're all supposed to be girls and bullshit like that) and black for the utter fucking darkness in the hearts of the four girls who end up kidnapping Rupert P, aka The Worst Rupert. You have no idea what you're in for and that's what makes it oh so good.
Unreliable narrators are my catnip and that's exactly the kind of character our narrator is. Readers never learn her real name; her friends never use it and she gives names from 80s movies like Sloane Peterson and Lydia Deetz when asked--and this girl is supposed to be the sane one of the bunch. After all, Erin is the ringleader with a vengeful agenda in mind, Isabel is the enforcer who seems to be replacing our narrator as Erin's best friend, and Apple is the girl whose money makes it possible for the girls to get so close to the Ruperts in the first place. The Ruperts more than earned Erin's single-minded vengeance, but dear God, Erin, this is going a bit far.
Part one of the novel is all about the thrill of what happens when four boy band fans (for the Ruperts, it's the Strepurs) get ahold of their least favorite member of the One Direction-esque band. Part two starts with a bang and will send your jaw right to the floor as things turn in more of a "mystery thriller" direction, but it's laugh-out-loud funny even at its darkest. The madness only gets better (or worse) from then on and Kill the Boy Band becomes impossible to put down as the girls' friendship falls apart, our narrator starts sneaking around with her favorite Rupert, and someone gets tossed off a penthouse balcony.
Making fun of the teenage girls who love Justin Bieber, One Direction, and the like is easy, but Moldavsky doesn't do that at all. Girls love what they love for all sorts of reasons. In gorgeous prose, our narrator tells of how the music of the Ruperts helped her cope with her father's death and connected her to Erin, her only "real" friend. Teenage girls love unlike any other group. Their kind of love is fierce and pure and terrifying and complicated. I may dislike Justin Bieber and his music, but I won't make fun of his fans. They've all got their reasons and the wrath of a teenage girl scorned is one of the greatest forces on Earth. Harness that for war and you'll be able to conquer whatever you please.
I'd also like to stop and appreciate the existence of Apple as a fat Chinese girl. Moreso than perhaps any other racial-ethnic group, Asian women are expected to be slender and those kinds of expectations can cause a incredible number of body image issues. By simply being, Apple subverts those expectations. She's sheltered, she's sweet, she's complicated, she's afraid of standing up for herself, and she is fat. These are the small but effective ways intersectionality works and makes a huge difference for readers.
What Left Me Wanting:
HOWEVER. I want to point you to Sarah Hollowell's Twitter account for another woman's views on Apple as an instance of poor representation of fat women. As a woman who has always been skinny, I don't see her character the same way as a fat woman does. Hollowell makes good points and I'd be remiss as both a reader and a feminist not to acknowledge and think about that.
Otherwise, I can't think of a bad thing to say. Kill the Boy Band is utter madness in the form of a novel. If that's not your groove at a given time, don't read it until that is your groove and be prepared to get your jaw repaired. It'll probably get dented a little bit when it falls away from your skull and ruins other books for you for a while.
People will always make fun of girls who love boy bands. It's an unfortunate fact. This is the book that will make anyone smart fear and respect teenage girls, what they love, and what they will do to you if you push them to their breaking point. For the love of teenage girls who love fiercely and almost scarily, read this book.
*jaw-dropping plot and twists
*somehow both a satire and celebration of teenage boy band fans
Imagine your favorite band. Then picture kidnapping them. No? None of you have dreamed of that? Me, neither. I would never think of kidnapping any of my favorite bands (Muse, Coldplay) or celebs (Eddie Redmayne, Natalie Portman, Prince George). Accidentally or not. When these girls accidentally kidnap one band member, it's that sign of "the characters are undoubtedly crazy and need good therapists."
The beginning of KILL THE BOY BAND is hilarious and amusing. It's really a pleasure to read about the narrator and her friends. Their friendship is bonded together thanks to this boy band, and their relationship dynamic makes the book far more interesting to read. These girls are fangirls, and their love of the boy band is infectious to see. As a fangirl of many things, I really love their enthusiasm and love and appreciation for what they're so excited (and obsessed) about.
But the story takes a very unexpected dark turn. It's as if a murder mystery movie has briefly dropped into the book to say a quick hello. The middle of the book is perhaps the moment things are not so funny after all. It is so frighteningly clear that there will be no good ending for any of the characters until they figure out the murder. There's still some comedy, but it has died down. It's kind of hard to laugh when the moments are so nail-biting.
Speaking as a fangirl myself, I have to say that the narrator and her friends are totally nuts. The narrator, less so, but she is guilty of being too passive in the accidental kidnapping and too "small" to be the conscience of the group. Anyway, these girls are the most extreme fangirls I have ever read before. (Every fan is crazy in her/his own way, but they take it up to eleven.) Despite that, they are dynamic characters with distinctive personalities.
The ending is the best part of the book. The final chapter throws so much ambiguousness that I have to applaud the author for making me think. My gosh, this is a book that deserves to be reread so readers can gain a much better understanding. Unreliable narrators put a shadow over the book that is determined to be questionable, and it's fun to guess what is really going on. The narrator has only a number of the pieces, and as readers, we have to put the puzzles together.
Overall, KILL THE BOY BAND is a dramatic mix of AMERICAN PSYCHO and THE LYING GAME. It's a truly scary and thrilling novel that runs on unreliable narrators and foggy details. Terribly exciting book that makes me laugh at the wrong times thanks to good use of black comedy.
Rating: Three out of Five