When I first heard that Robert Muchamore was writing a new, non–CHERUB related book, I was pretty excited as the premise of it was actually good. However, once I bought the book and read the book, I was disappointed by how… well, not very good it sounded:
“ Meet Jay. Summer. And Dylan.
Jay plays guitar, writes songs and dreams of being a rock star. But his ambitions are stifled by seven siblings and a terrible drummer.
Summer works hard at school, looks after her nan and has a one-in-a-million singing voice. But can her talent triumph over her nerves?
Dylan is happiest lying on his bunk smoking, but his school rugby coach has other ideas, and Dylan reluctantly joins a band to avoid crunching tackles and icy mud.
They’re about to enter the biggest battle of their lives. And there’s everything to play for.”
My first problem was with the grammar in the first line; in my eyes it should really be “Meet Jay, Summer, and Dylan” as the full stops just leave a sense of abruptness, and it just doesn’t seem right. Maybe the author thought that commas would make it sound as though the three of them were in the same band, who knows. Anyway, I feel that it’s wrong – but I’m sure Muchamore knows otherwise, what with being the author and all.
Leaving the grammar aside, I’ll move onto the book itself. I’m afraid to say I found it quite dull and it moved far too quickly. It was nice hearing from three different people, from very different backgrounds, but honestly, you barely got the chance to get a feel for each character before the book ended. Maybe that sounds like a lot happened just in a short space of time, but actually… Practically nothing happened. There was a lot of whining, complaining and some singing interspersed, but honestly I’m not sure what the book was actually about. Usually my problem is that books take far too long to get going and just drag, but with Rock War it’s quite the opposite – fine the happy medium, and use it.
The characters themselves aren’t very good either. If you look at some of the characters from the CHERUB series, then compare them to this, you might wonder if it’s even the same author, but it is. Summer, Jay, and Dylan all have as much depth as a teaspoon, and that’s not even individually. I thought that Summer at least might have been an interesting character, what with the fact she lives with her Nan and is the only “main” girl in the book, but I’m afraid I was wrong. There’s one scene in the book with a boy she met and seemed to quite like, yet he’s never mentioned again – maybe we were supposed to just forget about him (or perhaps Muchamore himself forgot about him), but he was on my mind for most of the book, as it seemed something was going to be made of it. Dylan was actually an okay character, but what annoyed me is that he wasn’t featured enough throughout the book; that mostly focussed on Jay and Summer. Jay, despite hogging the limelight far too often, was quite an interesting character to read about; he didn’t come from a well–off family, and his brothers are often in trouble with the police. However, Jay just couldn’t quite carry the story and I feel that if the characters had more depth and were quite frankly more interesting then I would have enjoyed this a lot more. Perhaps if Muchamore had written about just one character, the novel would have flowed better – trying to fit in the stories and back stories of three different characters just didn’t work here.
The plot idea was actually alright, although I was expecting that they would all find each other at the talent show Jay takes part in and form a band the three of them, but that didn’t happen. Instead, they’re all three different bands, which is fine… But of course, as I said, the three different story lines all ended up morphed together into a jumble, so you didn’t really get a feel for each band as a whole. However, one thing I really didn’t like is the mention of suicide. Now, I’m not saying writing about suicide was a bad thing, it’s just the manner in which it’s written – basically like it’s a joke, which I found quite offensive and not very sensitive at all. I’m hoping this issue will be spoken about in a more sensitive manner in the next book, and not just forgotten about like that guy Summer decided she fancied for all of half an hour.
Will I read the next book? Probably, to be honest, because I do like Robert Muchamore’s books and I’m hoping that this was just a bit of a slump after getting out of the groove of writing about CHERUB for so long. However, do I recommend this? If you don’t want a good read, then feel free. If you want a captivating and engaging read, find something else.