For the first few chapters, this novel might seem to be no more than a guitars, groups ’n girlfriends soapie, an enjoyably easy read which might well draw in those elusive male teenage readers. The story is told by Will, would-be singer/songwriter of ‘Happy’, a band he forms with best mate Danny, electrifying drummer Gav, and boyfriend-of-big-sister Ian. Keith Gray has more to offer than a reworking of clichéd characters and situations, however. His story remains readily accessible, but his readers may slowly recognise that their engaging narrator, Will, is not to be trusted. The band becomes an obsession. Other commitments, even to stunning girlfriend Beth, are sacrificed in pursuit of a fame he comes to believe is not only deserved but his by right.
Suddenly, the narrative shifts to the voice of Danny, the best mate who has lived in Will’s shadow as long as the two can remember. From this new perspective, characterisation becomes more complex and ambivalent. Danny faces choices about his own future as he sees what has happened to Will, whose ruthless ambition prompts him to use even his father’s funeral as an audition to secure his break into the big time. The writer’s convincing familiarity with the music scene should attract a wide range of readers. Their initial invitation to an easy narrative deftly becomes a demand to make judgements about characters’ thoughts and actions.