\\\\\\\\*STAR*Krovatin, Christopher. Heavy Metal and You. 2005. 186. Scholastic/Push, $16.95 (0-439-73648-X).
Gr. 1012. It was Slayer that first turned Sam Markus into a Metal Head. “Slayer was like Rob Zombie, only without the camp value and with better musicianship. They scared the hell out of me at first, and I loved it. Pure fucking evil.” Sam and his buddies hang out drinking, smoking, and exchanging vulgar insults when not attending their NYC prep school. But after Sam starts to date Melissa, things change. He makes her a disc of tunes to draw her into his world (the songs are listed so readers can re-create the mix), and goes “straightedge” for her, giving up his favorite vices. Ultimately, though, he realizes that he's becoming one of the phonies that his idol Holden Caulfield detests. Infusing the story with music, humor, and anger, Krovatin records a perfect take on relationships and how they change. From the terrific cover and portrait of selfish love to the clever CD player icons indicating narrative switches (PLAY, PAUSE, SKIP AHEAD, BACK, and on the final page, STOP), this is an authentic portrayal of an obsession with music. Teens don't have to like heavy metal to appreciate this novel, which is guaranteed to attract readers looking for a book to reach their death-metal souls. Cindy Dobrez
Claire Rosser (KLIATT Review, July 2005 (Vol. 39, No. 4))
The author is a 20-year-old student at Wesleyan University who grew up in Manhattan, where this edgy story takes place. The summer before his freshman year, he was a Scholastic Push Writing Intern; presumably this debut novel is the result of that experience. The narrator is Sam Markus, also known as Conan (the Barbarian) to his friends. His passion in life is heavy metal music, about which he has encyclopedic knowledge. Sam is also a good student who loves Holden Caulfield and understands Baudelaire's poetry; he goes to a prestigious all-male prep school in NYC. He likes to get drunk, smoke pot and go to horrible horror movies with his friends. In fact, he sees his beloved music as another form of a horror movie. When the guys get together, they happily insult one another and make crude jokes. Enter Melissa. She is straightedge (no alcohol or drugs) and has no understanding of heavy metal music, but she is willing to listen and even to attend a raucous concert, which she hates. Their relationship lasts some months, and they both feel they are in love, yet each has reservations about the other's friends and interests. When Sam finally meets Melissa's friends he finds they are all that he despises in preppy snobbery and artifice, and this brings to a head the couple's dilemma. The talk between Sam and his buddies is appropriately crude and raunchy, with frequent obscenities--puerile, but they understand one another and accept one another. Sam explains to Melissa why he is so attached to heavy metal. It seems to be a way to channel his anger, most of which arose from his childhood when he was bullied at school and couldn't fight back. (The music dissipates his anger, not fuels it.) Sam's story of his first real love will resonate with many YA readers, most of whom have experienced something like this relationship--the chemistry is powerful, but the connections that bind them together are weak. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: S--Recommended for senior high school students. 2005, Scholastic, Push, 186p., $16.95. Ages 15 to 18.
KROVATIN, Christopher. Heavy Metal and You. 186p. Scholastic/Push. 2005. Tr $16.95. ISBN 0-439-73648-X. LC number unavailable.
Gr 11 UpSam wears spiked bracelets, gets wasted with his friends, and has almost encyclopedic knowledge about heavy-metal music. But he's also incredibly intelligent and as knowledgeable about classic literature as he is about the music he loves. Sam attends an expensive all-boys prep school in New York City, and he and h