Krovatin, Christopher. Heavy Metal and You. Push, 2005. ISBN 978-0439736480. 192 pp. $
The jacket looks like a classic metal CD: black with blood red heart ensnared in barbed wire, lettered in a combination of gothic looking font and italic script. My friend Alissa’s summary and assessment was a self-defined metalhead that identifies himself through his favorite music he falls for a straightlaced preppie girl who falls right back. Familiarity breeds contempt and Melissa naively thinks she can change the things she doesn’t like about her man. Who is Sam if he isn’t a metalhead with all the trappings the self-imposed label entails?
Strong characterization makes standard teen stereotypes into real people. I loved the brief length, energetic voice and allusions to many metal songs and bands. Knowing exactly what the author is talking about adds to the story, but a teen reader can substitute his or her own fanatic obsessions (rap, fashion, a favorite television series) to understand how Sam finds himself through this genre of music. The mix CDs Sam creates as works of art for his girl would serve as a great introduction to this often misunderstood genre; it’s too bad a CD wasn’t included with the book!
The most brilliant thing about the book (and I am not sure whether to credit the college student author, the art designer, or a smart editor) is the incorporation of symbols for “play,” “rewind,” “pause ” and “fast forward” into the narrative to indicate present situtation, a flashback, and a aside. The reader can immediately tell from the graphic when in the story he is. It’s a clever and dramatic clue that completely fits the plot and character.
Language, an applaudable discussion of whether the couple is ready for an intimate physical relationship, and recreational drug use are laced through the pages but serve to further the plot and develop the characters, as do the occasional lewd and crude off-color remarks that are laugh out loud funny. The identity-defining theme and issues of support and abstinence meet teen development needs–magic words to keep this title in your library collection. Heavy Metal and You will be popular because of the young author, graphic cover and most of all for its authenticity: this is what the adolescent male voice sounds like.
A fantastic debut novel and quite possibly the best effort to date birthed from Scholastic’s edgy PUSH imprint, Krovatin is one to watch.