Booklist Reviews 2018 September #2
Like a record album, this angst-soaked alienation tale is told in A and B sides, two independent stories linked by setting and characters. In Side A, Xenie and Shaun fall in love after meeting at a concert, united through painful pasts and a love of music. As Shaun's band takes off, Xenie becomes obsessed with the rising epidemic of young music fans assassinating performing musicians across the U.S. The epidemic reaches their hometown of Arcadia on the night of Shaun's album-launch concert, and he is killed mid-set. Grief-stricken, Xenie is drawn to Shaun's old friends, and they are propelled toward a gut-wrenching climax at Shaun's tribute concert. Side B flips the story, with Xenie as the murdered musician and Shaun the grieving survivor. Shaun and two of Xenie's closest friends, united by disgust at the impersonal travesty of Xenie's funeral, discover the disturbing headquarters of the killing movement in Arcadia. Punk rock in literary form, this activism allegory will draw fans of Chuck Palahniuk's raw social commentary and Charlie's Huston's haunting, macabre symbolism. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2018 August #2
Jackson (Mira Corpora) builds an anxious, deeply felt narrative probing a nationwide epidemic of murders of musicians. In opposing versions of the story—there's an A side and a B side—Jackson follows several residents of the nondescript city of Arcadia who turn out to be both victims and perpetrators of crimes. Side A finds Xenie, disillusioned with music despite her "mesmerizing" singing voice, and Florian, an anxious yet defiant guitarist, both coping with the murder of Shaun, Xenie's former boyfriend and Florian's old best friend. When Florian's bandmates decide to perform at a concert aimed at reviving the town's dormant music scene, the opportunity to "pay a worthy and genuine tribute to Shaun," who was gunned down while performing at a local theater, seems fitting. But as the concert approaches, bringing with it unwelcome reminders of the past, the characters are driven to confront their own twisted relationships to themselves and music itself. Side B switches Shaun and Xenie's roles as the mourner and dead, and cycles through a dizzying catalogue of musician deaths across the country—gesturing at the murderers' motivations, including the sense that, ironically, "the killers wanted music to matter again." Infected with this eerie conceit, and expressed through gritty, sharp prose, the novel provides both deep character exploration and a nuanced commentary on music, creativity, and violence. (Oct.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.