3 Nov 2011

Review: "Heart-Shaped Box"

I love real old-fashioned rockn'n'roll and the real rock'n'roll bands where the band members are no longer musicians but icons. The main character of Joe Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" is one of those icons.
Judas Coyne (not the name he grew up with but the name he chose when he decided to dedicate his life to rock'n'roll) is an American hard rock icon who is now no longer a young, energetic biting-heads-of-bats type singer but a man in his 50's who is a little tired. He lives a rather quiet life on his farm with a personal assistant to take care of all of the practical stuff and a 26-year-old, gorgeous girlfriend to take care of his ego. His only real love is for his dogs - the personal assistant he regards as a strange necessity and the girlfriends are named for the states they are from, not who they are. In lieu of a real hobby and as part of his image, Jude collects odd things. Things that other people would regard with fear or suspicion or disgust. So when somebody is auctioning off an old suit and a ghost. Curious but disbelieving Jude buys it and then it goes horribly wrong. Because the suit does actually come with a real ghost, a real and very evil-spirited ghost that is out to get Jude, this is a ghost that holds a grudge. It all relates to Jude's ex-girlfriend, the frail and vulnerable Florida and the ghost has been sold to Jude by her older sister.

I would love to write me but I don't want to spoil anything so I will leave the story here and tell you why I really really enjoyed this book. It is a bit of gem really, different from any other book I have read - the only book that it reminds me of is "Horns", also by Joe Hill, but I liked "Heart-Shaped Box" better, mostly because of the characters. The storyline in "Horns" is much more interesting and different and cool but the characters of "Heart-Shaped Box" are outstanding.
I very quickly warmed to Jude, the rock'n'roll antiquity who is still wearing leather trousers even though he would probably prefer slippers. He is so clueless and that makes him likeable and cute actually. He also develops a lot through the book, discovering parts of himself that he seems to have lost while living life in the fast lane. And then there is his girlfriend, Georgia, who is one cool chick. A real tough girl on the outside but with a heart of gold, she takes no b-s from her less than charming boyfriend... Together they make quite a couple as they roadtrip through the south to get rid of a ghost.

You will like "Heart-Shaped Box" if: You enjoyed "Horns" by Joe Hill, if you are intrigued by Ozzy Osbourne and Mick Jagger or if you have ever bought something on Ebay that you didn't really know what was...

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