Friday, June 9, 2017

The Five - A Book Review

The FiveThe Five by Robert McCammon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tough to review this one. I've enjoyed many other MacCammon books and "Boy's Life" is an all-time favorite of mine. This book is well-written, almost poetically so, and thoughtful and introspective and life-affirming and ultimately inspirational.

And yet...

It's too goddamned long.

The audiobook was 20 hours, and waaay too much of that time goes pretty much nowhere. The basic plot is simple - 5 bandmembers on their farewell tour fall afoul of a deranged ex-military sniper who begins stalking them across the American heartland. What initially looks to be the act of a lone gunman gradually takes on larger, possibly supernatural proportions.

There's a whole lot of insight and exploration here into the world of the indie rock band, playing from club to club and just making enough for gas money. Our heroes have been at this for years without ever getting The Big Break, and a lot of the meat of the character and world-building comes from their burned-out, seen-it-all attitudes toward the music they used to love. The fact that their Big Break comes in the form of media attention because a maniac is trying to kill them, that only adds an extra level of bitter irony to the situation.

So, we've got cool characters, some soulful observations on art and commerce, some great thriller moments when the badguy strikes, and what I felt was an absolutely wonderful ending that nearly redeemed the entire book... and yet I'm still giving it a 3. My main complaints are that it just takes too long for anything to happen (I was something like 6 hours+ into the book - the full running time of many other audiobooks - before the plot even started) and it drifts too wantonly in too many different directions that ultimately go unresolved. If I want endless random side quests and distracting situations that lead me nowhere and leave me frustrated, all I have to do is get up in the morning.

It was a good book. I don't regret reading it. However, I think it needed a lot more editing and tightening to become a great book. If it had run 10 hours instead of 20, I bet it would have been another 4 or 5 star joy.

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