There aren't a lot of books that make me go "OMG I NEED IT!" anymore, but KILL THE BOY BAND was one of them. I mean, it's such a great concept, in part because it's so relatable. We all know that one fangirl who takes things too far. Maybe we've encountered them in real life. Maybe on a forum. Maybe on a review. Maybe - gasp! - we are that fangirl. And I'm sure we've all wondered what would happen if a fangirl took things too far.
The unnamed narrator and her three friends are all fans of The Ruperts - a group that parodies many bands, but seems to be targeting One Direction in particular. When they find out that the concert venue nearby is all sold out, they stake out the most expensive hotel (betting that it's where the band is staying), hoping that if they can't score some tickets, they can at least take a few pictures of the band. You know, for posterity's sake.
And then things go wrong. Horribly, morbidly wrong.
I liked the first half of the book a lot. The main character's dark, dry narrative and utter lack of empathy kind of reminded me of the character of Fiona Yu, from HELLO KITTY MUST DIE. Some of the observations about fandoms and what it means to be a fangirl were surprisingly deep. But since the narrator is pretty unreliable, I was never 100% sure if she was genuinely expressing how she felt, or, as one of the band members later describes his fans, not really caring about the band but just enjoying the sensation of being all caught up in the moment. Because when you think about it, what makes something popular isn't always synonymous with good or interesting, but just because it happens to fit in with the zeitgeist and people are using circulus in probando, or circular reasoning, to rationalize it (it's popular because it's good). There's a pile-on effect when it comes to popularity...to the point where something can become popular just because it's popular, in a never-ending ouroboros of self-validation that results in massive hype and, getting back to my original point, loyal fangirls.
Each of the narrator's friends expresses their devotion in different ways. Isabel is really creepy, and probably the poster girl for what we think about when we think about out of control fangirls. She tweets threatening messages to the girlfriends (and nay-sayers) of the Ruperts, and runs a Perez Hilton-esque site about the Ruperts, sometimes using sketchy means in order to obtain new information and gossip. She is the type of fan who would go onto book reviews and tell negative reviewers that they ought to kill themselves for being sad c*nts with no lives.
Apple is from the fanwank school of fangirls - her romantic obsession with The Ruperts falls somewhere between sweet, sad, and scary. She's also the character many readers have trouble with because she is overweight and this is portrayed as the butt of several jokes in the books, with Apple using her girth to knock someone unconscious, and constantly referring to food or how much she craves it. She is the type of fan who would refer to a character as a book boyfriend, and go into uncomfortable detail about all the things she would like to do to him.
Erin is a little more subtle. I felt like she was a lot like the narrator, pushier in some ways, quieter in others. You don't really find out what she's about until the second half of the book. She's the prettiest in the group of friends, and is the type of fan who would post Instagram pictures with her collection of fan memorabilia where all the followers would say things like, "OMG YOU'RE SO PRETTY, YOU SHOULD BE A MODEL. #LIFEGOALS."
As for the narrator, well...you only have her word for what she is.
I liked the first half of the book a lot, but I felt like the second half tested my willingness to suspend my disbelief too much. It's difficult to write a dark comedy, because you have to push the envelope (and people's comfort zones) but also make them laugh, and I think this requires a level of subtlety and cleverness that is very difficult to master. It also appeals to a niche audience - most people don't like creepypasta in their comedy. One of the best examples of a dark comedy is the teen movie Jawbreaker. If you crossed Mean Girls with Agatha Christie, you would get Jawbreaker. It's a fantastic look at the social strata of a high school - part makeover story, part revenge story, part murder story. I can still remember the first time I watched it - there's nothing else like it.
KILL THE BOY BAND wasn't like that. It wanted to be too many things, and this caused the plot to unravel, and the tight, obsessive narrative from the beginning disappeared into the chaos, never to return. I did keep reading because I wanted to find out "whodunnit" but the ending was really disappointing. I was expecting something clever and shocking and memorable! Instead, it ended just as I thought it would. I don't regret reading KILL THE BOY BAND because it's received its fair share of hoopla and I wanted to see what all this hoopla was about and now I have #lifegoals.
2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars.