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Book Review: The Five by Robert McCammon


The Five by Robert McCammon

If you head on over to Amazon and take a look at reviews for Robert McCammon’s The Five, you’ll quickly see a refrain:

First of all, I’m a big McCammon fan. I loved Swan Song. But–

Welcome back. I hope you didn’t pay too much attention to all the fussing over there.

I won’t add my voice to that chorus but I can’t say that The Five blew me away either. I’d be thrilled but surprised  if McCammon ever writes something that I enjoy as much as Swan Song and/or Boy’s Life.

More than anything, this book felt to me like McCammon got the urge to write about music, or the history of rock and roll in America, and wrote The Five. The result? A decent story about a band in danger with a bunch of music trivia thrown in. And a couple of odd tangents towards the end.

That’s an incredibly simplistic description, but it fits.

Summary of The Five

A band named–can you guess?–The Five is on tour. We meet the members and their manager. They are a hard-working group who haven’t caught their big break yet.

The book opens with the band going to an interview with one of the scummy types of moneyed, oily characters that Stephen King and McCammon both write so well.

They are there to talk about their tour, their new music video, etc. The interview doesn’t go as well as they had hoped.

At this point it gets harder to stay out of spoiler territory so I’ll just say that the interview sets an unfortunate chain of events in motion. Soon the band is tragically made aware that they have pissed someone off and that person is not going to stop chasing them.

But hold everything! Would you believe that as the band grows ever more imperiled, their fame and sales skyrocket? That, instead of canceling shows in order to protect the band and their fans, promoters are now trying to cash in on “The Band that will not die?”

If you can’t believe it you probably won’t finish the book.

I love music. I love to listen to it, play it, and read about it. I miss my old bands and I got a huge kick out of all the music trivia and obscure Moog synthesizer talk.

If you’re going to read The Five, I recommend reading it purely for fun. It probably won’t change your life and I don’t know that there are any big lessons to draw from it. It’s a passable, often fast-paced thriller that seems to have disappointed a lot of his fans.

I wasn’t disappointed at all. Not every book can be a masterpiece and I think that The Five is a lot better than some people are giving it credit for.

I also loved it that the afterword is almost entirely a list of musicians and bands that the author thanks.

Rating: 95 Stomp Boxes




Comments on this entry are closed.

  • DC5 December 10, 2011, 11:06 pm

    I agree that The Five is better than some people give it credit for. Still, I don’t think it’s a very good book overall. I’d put it somewhere down with the bottom three of McCammon’s output. His Matthew Corbett books are far better, starting with Speaks the Nightbird.