Boy listens to lots of loud music and hangs with his friends. Boy meets girl. Boy falls dippy-happy-scared-as-hell in love with girl. Friends meet girl — and aren’t impressed. Girl meets friends — and isn’t impressed. Boy meets big dilemma. Boy plays music even louder.
I haven’t done a review in … several months. Rest assured, this will change now that I’m in the same place long enough to read books, watch movies and do things worthy of review.
Port O’ Call: Heavy Metal and Me, Scholastic, is a book aimed at the young adult (teen) readers.
Mateys: Written by Christopher Krovatin, who was born in 1985, the same year that Slayer released Hell Awaits.
Premise: Sam the pot-smoking, classical literature lovin’ metalhead meets Melissa, the girl of his dreams. Smart, cute, funny … and totally straight edge. After a disasterous date at a Deicide concert, Sam tries his hardest to please Melissa … but that means changing who he is. Giving up drugs, alcohol, smoking and his friends come easier than Sam thought, but Heavy Metal?
Why it’s Kreig: Krovatin has been compared to Nick Hornby – a well-justified claim. He writes with humor, raw passion and a deep respect for the music and the people who love it. A book like this could only have been written by a metalhead.
I love that it shows a character more like the metalheads that I know – intelligent, literate and articulate. Sammy is a real metalhead, a real person, not a caricature of us. He’s self-aware, he doesn’t spend the novel whining about no one understanding him or randomly inserting Slayer lyrics into conversation for comedic purposes.
He’s also smitten, and he makes mistakes, and you love him all the more for it. You love him because he’s you when you were sixteen, and in love, and you thought you knew what you were doing, but really you didn’t. Sammy deals with his situation, his perfect girlfrined – who wanted the intelligent, funny Sam without his friend and his smoking and his anger and his heavy metal.
“I’ve fallen for one girl too many who’s wanted some variation of who I am and only that. It eats you alive.”
It eats Sammy alive, too. And we read this, and we just want to jump into the book and give him a hug and tell him that actually, he’s a totally awesome person, just the way he is.
Melissa, the girlfriend, is another incredible character. She’s so human, you can’t hate her. She’s not an idealised, bitch girlfriend who’s easy to hate. She just doesn’t yet understand that chosing to be with someone means accepting all of them.
Likewise, Sammy’s friends remind me of real people I knew in high school.
Sam goes off on these amazing, off-the-wall awesome and totally hilarious rants – about music, about life, about hipsters. And they’re all so true:
“I’ve always thought that, as much as I utterly loathed some of it, music was still music, be it Annihilator or Good Charlotte or Ja Rule or Sigor Ros or Christina fucking Aguilera, and that assholes are assholes, regardless of their musical taste. Hipsters, though, were the anti-what-I-just said. There are hipsters for every musical genre: metal hipsters, Goth hipsters, rap hipsters, even country hipsters (well, a few). And by the look of it, I had two emo/indie megahipsters in front of me – the worst kind. I don’t know why, but it just seemed like those two genres of music bred more hipsters than any other.”
And, lastly, who couldn’t adore a heavy metal love story set to a soundtrack of Slayer and Testament and Paradise Lost?
Why it’s emo: It’s clear (and unsurprising given the author’s age at the time this book was written) that Sammy is a manifestation of the author’s own experiences and opinions. Krovatin even says as much in this interview. There is a real honesty about Sam – he’s a person I feel I really know.
However, he has a couple of emo moments – crying about his past and such – and they’re not as well shown as I felt they could be. The author, knowing his own internal thoughts so well, glossed over them a little, so the impact of Sam’s breakdowns wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Instead, he came across as a bit, well, emo.
Also, some more discerning metal readers might disagree with many of Sam’s listening choices. (Shadow’s Fall, what?) and could find fault in simplistic descriptions of the Norwegian Black Metal scene. But I don’t feel either of these points detract from the awesomeness of the story and characters.
Quote: “My teeth were nice commodities, and I did enjoy having kidneys, but I’d give them all away if someone threatened to take my Slayer albums from me.”
Rating: four horns for being a little on the emo side \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
Super Snuggles and Shoggoth Kisses