05 April 2014

Metal Heart (Meredith Shayne)

Before I begin this review I want to make it clear that I am friends with the author. Good friends. I have tried very hard to not let that friendship influence my thoughts on Metal Heart, but I feel it best to disclose the friendship and let each of you decide for yourselves whether my review justifies the rating J

Oh, and isn't the cover gorgeous? It totally fits the book IMHO!

Metal Heart is a book of two parts, well...three if you count the prologue. In the prologue we meet the Scott of 2011; we then follow him down memory lane to the 1990s (hereafter referred to as the past) and then back to 2011 (hereafter referred to as the present). I know some people aren’t fans of flashbacks. (Or prologues for that matter.) Going the flashback route was definitely a gamble, but for me it pays off. Without knowing...without living through how Scott and Ash met, how and why they fell in love and what led up to their breakup I don’t feel I would have completely understood where they were coming from in the present. How...reticence and...stuck they were. The flashback is from Scott’s POV, whereas the present has alternating POVs. Another gamble as the reader is left overly sympathetic to Scott, but I thought by not knowing Ash’s POV in the past we were able to learn it alongside Scott in the present. (And I always thought there was far more to the story than what Scott [and I as the reader] knew.)

A number of things worked for me in this book. The first is in the imagery. The author paints an amazingly clear picture of the rock scene in Australia in the 1990s. I could all but smell the cigarettes and stale beer J The second is the characters. Both primary and secondary. In fact, although I adore both Scott and Ash (although I must confess a preference to Scott J), the secondary characters were just as three-dimensional. What is more, they felt organic to the story and not just stuck in as a plot device. Also, it was nice to have one of the primary characters have a positive, long-term relationship with female characters who were not caricatures. And Scott’s relationship with his sister and his niece (and theirs with him) was integral to the character. Thirdly, I loved that fault was on both sides.  And that there wasn’t a ‘you’re cured’ wand wave...that Scott kept in contact with his drug counsellor, that his family worried about his potential for relapse, even 16 years later. That it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Did I think it weird that Scott and Ash had waited so long? 16 years long? Well...no. It actually made sense.  Sometimes things get in the way, you keep waiting for the right moment and then you realize so much time has gone past and you don’t know where to start. So you don’t. And I’m not sure if the people Scott and Ash were in their mid 20s had the...self awareness they did in their early 40s to sort things out.

I loved how the book came full circle in not one, but two ways. Firstly the way the prologue ended was mirrored in a scene near the end of the book, and secondly with regard to the song. And I loved that the ending was, in fact, a beginning...rather than an explicit HEA.

Going back to those amazing secondary characters...do I want Justin’s story? Hell to the yes! I loved that even though he was the ex-boyfriend he wasn’t bitter or twisted; he wanted what was best for Scott. On the plus side, being good friends with the author I can enquire nag her for updates J Which leads me to the author’s writing itself. I was lucky enough to read the author’s first book before it was published and I love how her writing has developed and progressed from that book to this one J