Posts Tagged ‘Junkie Lit’

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I have a feeling this one will appeal to people with certain reading tastes. I’m not sure I’m on board with them, but Susan’s always telling me that I might like it if I try it. So here goes. Here’s the book description of Strung Out:

Finding my best friend and getting the hell out of California is top priority. Especially as the relationship with my rockstar stepbrother becomes more complicated with each passing day…

I’m on the tour bus partying!

The text from my best friend, Ivy, is one of her last. When weeks stretch with no further contact, I travel to L.A. to track down the band known as Rageon and find Ivy.

As the daughter of a groupie mom, and of a rock star father who fatally overdosed, I know the dangers of the world my friend disappeared into.

My ex-stepbrother, Gage, a musician who’s just come off tour invites me to crash at his place.

The last time I saw Gage in person, we were teens. He’s everywhere on social media, so I’m prepared for the tattoo-covered rocker who answers my knock. What I’m not expecting to find is the sweet, sensitive teen I grew up with is now an irresponsible, partying playboy who lives for his next fix.

As the search for Ivy narrows, my relationship with my rockstar stepbrother becomes more complicated. The tingling tug of attraction toward him is unexpected–and unacceptable. First, we’re practically siblings. Most importantly, I’ll never allow myself to fall for a musician, especially one with a drug addiction.

Gage teams up with me to find Ivy, introducing me into the right circles and guarding my secrets.

My search for Ivy takes me places I never wanted to go…
And my heart is an unwilling passenger on that dark ride.

Strung Out: A Needles and Pins Rock Star Romance is 90k words which is around 300 print pages. It may appear to be double that as the download contains 2 versions of the same book, allowing readers to choose their favorite reading style of 1 POV or 3 POV

Wow, lots to talk about here…

First is the whole attraction to the stepbrother thing. Like I said, if this is your thing, have at it. I’m not convinced I am, but the boss has told me if a review copy shows up, it’s all mine. And she hopes a review copy shows up.

The bigger issue for both of us is the junkie angle. Susan’s made no secret that she doesn’t like Junkie fiction, and I’m not sure I do, either. It depends on how it’s handled. Here, it could be a gateway to the mission of finding Ivy. I like that our nameless narrator knows the dangers and wants to save her friend.

I’m not so sure how I feel about a romance with a junkie. And a junkie stepbrother, at that. It’s like double bad.

And this interesting twist at the end of the description? Hmm. Wow. You have your choice of POV. Susan says that’s like writing two entirely different books because of the structure of each POV and… frankly, folks, I tuned her out. She’s developed more and more technical talk, the longer and more successful she is as an editor, so I just nod at the right times. But maybe she’s right about this.

Or maybe she’s not.

I want to find out. As always, color me curious.

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I don’t like junkie stories. I don’t. So the fact that I liked Cherry Cox’s debut, It’s a Long Way to the Top, tells you how good it was. And I’m not saying that because Cherry and I have become friends and you’ll see more of her here at The Rock of Pages, either. We actually became friends after I realized this was a darn good book. Possibly even because of it.

Cherry Cox

It’s the story of Jackson—Jax—who is in a band called Acts of Insanity. It’s the 80s, the band could maybe possibly break out if they record a killer demo and impress label people… and Jax is gay. But since this is the homophobic ‘80s, he can’t let people know.

Including the band’s amazingly hot new singer, Harley.

Now, what that synopsis doesn’t tell you is that Jax is also a heroin addict. A high-functioning addict, but an addict just the same. And while it made me sick when he shot Harley up after Harley got roughed up by some cops, it also made sense that he would choose that particular route of pain relief. After all, it dulls Jax’s pain… why not Harley’s, too?

I think it’s the fact that Jax is high-functioning that sets this book apart from the other junkie lit books I’ve read (and hated). The other books tend to dwell on the struggle, on the descent into hell—there’s something pathetic going on in those other books. But in Cox’s world, Jax’s heroin doesn’t stop him from trying to move forward. On the one hand, he knows he has a problem. But on the other hand, he simply doesn’t care. He’s too busy. He’s got the band to take care of. He’s got relationships with people, including a friends-with-benefits woman. Yes, I said the gay man’s sleeping with a woman.

In real life, things aren’t as easy as we often make them be in fiction, and Cox really hits on the complexities of life in this novel. Jax’s sister adores him, but doesn’t always act in what’s truly his best interests. Instead, she acts in what she wants Jax’s best interests to be. Which, of course, is what people do, and which, of course, results in disasters and hurt feelings.

In the end, the band’s poised for success. It’d have been nice if Cox had ended it right there, on that cliffhanger, but she pushed it and took us into new territory. It feels forced and it took away from the high that Jax and company should have had at least a few minutes to enjoy.

Because it’s Cox’s debut, we’ll forgive her this misstep. After all, she’s been nothing but honest with the reader and hasn’t shied away from showing the complications that erupt at every second. That’s what makes it real.

But it’s also fiction, and there’s always a time to bend the truth to fit the reader’s expectations and the conventions of the genre.

Still, I can’t wait to see what comes next for Jax and company. Just when they should be riding high, they’ve been hit with another complication (really, I wish that had started the second book), and it’s one that may or may not render the whole situation thus far moot. Or does it; I can also see this opening the band up to bigger and better.

Oh, Cherry Cox. Write faster, will you?