Friday, October 19, 2012

The Suburban Strange: A Soundtrack to Die For!

The Suburban Strange
Author Nathan Kotecki

Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High. Plentiful references to music and art—along with the intriguing underworld mythology—make this supernatural series debut a page-turner.
Review: This book had me at "Sisters of Mercy," which I still listen to religiously (BTW), but no longer on vinyl or cassette, but on my slim ipod. As usual, I find myself on the opposite end of loving a book, but I predict this series will develop a tightly loyal cult-lit following. Based on this assessment, I can see why The Suburban Strange has received some rather mixed reviews from advanced readership. One point that I disagree with is that this book will generally only appeal to kids around 15 years old. Yes, it is a young adult novel, but with a very grown up soundtrack. Those over forty will embrace the music selection.  Okay...wait...backup, those over forty who were 'progressive,' will likely find themselves closing the cover and running to the computer to download all the favorites revealed in the book to their ipod so they can flashback all the way to work and back the next day. Now, if you were into radio 90's rock or pop, you might be left just as clueless as many other readers. Ahh, not hip then, not hip now...snark, pow, bam

Despite the oldies but goodies, I think kids of the alternative music era will understand the classic, thematic importance of the playlist and characterization in the novel, if not, I bet they will look them up and become fans. Being a child of underground Seattle nightclubs and alternative 90's (yes, imports and record stores) I jumped up and down at the high school experience depicted because for me, it was truly relatable. 

There is a bit of Twilight meets Buffy meets Harry Potter, meets a dozen other YA popular story lines here, but it does provide something new with a twist, being the 'scene' that is resurrected. Nostalgic? I suppose I am, but it was refreshing to have the modern, paranormal and old melded together in a page-turning series starter. 

What else worked?  Um....the fact that a YA novel with a female lead was written by a male author!  Similar to the literary references, from the Awakening, Alice In Wonderland and Portrait of A Lady, (nope, they weren't lost on me!) made in the novel, Nathan Kotecki flawlessly channels a teen misfit turned heroine. The voice, emotions and characterization were spot on and left me completely believing the authenticity of the story and characters. Looking forward to the second book! Bring on the dancing horses!
tiny blue diamondtiny blue diamondtiny blue diamondtiny blue diamond1/2 star
* ARC provided by Amazon Vine Review courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Books
Some of the musical groups referenced in the book.

  • Clan of Xymox
  • Cocteau Twins
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • Book of Love
  • Peter Murphy and many more....

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