Paperback, 329 pages
Published September 21st 2012 by Diversion Books
It’s the summer of 1974 and 21-year old Dawn Emerson has only three things she wants to do: compete one last time in the Ellensburg Rodeo, win back her ex-boyfriend Ryan, and become the best damn music journalist at Central Washington University. But all her plans are left in the dust when she’s contacted by Creem magazine to go on the road with one of her favorite groups, the up-and-coming metal band, Hybrid.
At first the assignment reads like a dream come true. Not only will Dawn land some much-needed credibility as a female music journalist, but she’ll finally get to experience life from the other side of the stage, and maybe crack the drunken, enigmatic code that is guitarist Sage Knightly. Instead, Dawn finds herself on an aging tour bus filled with ego-maniacs, band politics and a whole lot of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. When monsters start showing up in dressing rooms and some of Sage’s groupies become increasingly strange and dangerous, Dawn discovers the band is not only going places – they’re going straight to Hell.
And Dawn has a backstage pass.
Karina Halle’s The Devil’s Metal identifies itself as belonging to the relatively new (to me) genre “New Adult” that has been giving many people pause recently. I am not sure I want to launch into a discourse about the necessity of a genre belonging to “new adults” but I do know that I cautiously enjoyed the novel. While the dialogue needed work and did, at times, sound awkward and stilted, the novel is seriously entertaining.
A period piece, it is set in the 70s when rock and fan culture was just emerging. Halle manages to convey the intensely emotional moments between audience and band perfectly and I enjoyed the gradual coherence of a story as the narrative progressed. Dawn is an interesting character but not as individualized as I generally like my protagonists to be. I am still not sure that I like her. I think it was her pining for her ex-boyfriend even when he broke up with her by cheating on her or something like that.
I did appreciate how Dawn was called out on her slut shaming by her best friend. It was refreshing to see that in a book and I hope we can see some more of that awareness in books that are meant for YA and not, “New Adults.” I am not rolling my eyes, I swear.
Though the mythology was not new, or rather though the foundation of the mythology was not new, the execution was pretty different. I still don’t understand what the purpose of the lake was but I guess it was one of those things. The ending did seem a bit abrupt and the epilogue-ish part did its job and kept me hooked into what will be a series, I believe. Or maybe a trilogy. I just am not sure how long the mythology can be sustained before its get a bit too old.
I thought the novel was entertaining. It was certainly different and dealt with characters a bit older than the YA novel will boast. Halle’s knowledge about music, the bands and the fan culture was also apparent and there were no awkward moments where you are like “what?” I don’t know if this book will be appeal to everyone but if you are into gory, sexy, rockstar oriented novels, this will do it for you.