Author: Kevin Brooks
Published: 7th July 2011 (Puffin)
London, 1976: a summer of chaos, punk, love ...and the boy they called Billy the Kid. It was the summer of so many things. Heat and violence, love and hate, heaven and hell. It was the time I met William Bonney - the boy from Belfast known as Billy the Kid. I've kept William's secrets for a long time, but now things have changed and I have to tell the truth. But I can't begin until I've told you about Curtis Ray. Hip, cool, rebellious Curtis Ray. Without Curtis, there wouldn't be a story to tell. It's the story of our band, of life and death ...and everything in between. This characteristically gripping novel from award-winning author Kevin Brooks will rock you to the core.
When I first received this book I was initially excited because I've really enjoyed Kevin Brooks' books before but for some reason I didn't really take in what the book was about. When I picked it up to read and actually properly read what it was about I was both more excited and also apprehensive. I wouldn't say I was a massive punk fan but I do know my Sex Pistols from The Clash so there was a little part of me that was worried that the book wouldn't be a true representation of the punk movement, if only because of it being aimed at teens so I thought it might be somewhat diluted down - because lets face it, the subject matter isn't exactly the most family friendly. I should have had more faith in Brooks though and I'm glad to say that this book fully embraced the era completely.
The story is told in an almost autobiographical tone and it's easy to believe that the narrator, Lili, was a real part of the punk scene. It's set in 1976, right when punk was just taking off and it is very true to the time period. Lili is a brilliant character to read. Essentially, she's in a punk band but doesn't quite fit into the scene. She's there because she likes the music and she's not so keen on the party side of things. The two boys in her life are Curtis Ray (I love the proper rockstar quality to his name!), the band's front man and bad boy, and William Bonney, guitarist with a secret.
There's some amazing descriptive scenes in this book which land you right there with the characters, whether it's with Lili and William in the cemetry or up on stage with the band as a fight takes place in the crowd. The book also takes you through a rollercoster of emotions, from literally laughing out loud to crying.
Brooks quite clearly knows what he's talking about when it comes to the music and the punk scene in general and while I really liked all the added little details, I did wonder at times if it might be a little too much for readers who aren't so knowledgeable about the subject. I'm also pleased to say that the author didn't hold back on the subject matter and characterisation. The book is very much sex, drugs and rock n' roll and although I feel that it is dealt with appropriately (sex is eluded to but not graphic, the drugs aren't glamourised, there's some swearing where necessary but it's not overdone), this book is probably more suited to older teens.