It’s a great shame that King allows this book to deteriorate in the last part, because the first two thirds are genuinely brilliant. The frustrated young teenagers on London’s doorstep, desperate to take part in the late 1970s punk revolution are sketched to perfection.
Skip forward to that trans-Siberian train journey and King starting to lag, although the Moscow sequence is superb.
Skip forward to Britain in 2000 and King’s completely lost his way. It doesn’t matter that the main character and narrator, Joe, hasn’t moved on or developed along some artificial character arc, but all the other characters have transformed into wood and speak with the same voice (Joe’s). The pop culture references that placed the first part so firmly in the 1970s disappear, Joe is supposedly a DJ; he plays the Clash and Sex Pistols and ‘some of the up-to-date stuff’, whatever that may be. Great start, good middle, poor end.
(originally posted to Amazon August 8, 2002)
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