By Shane Douthwaite
Right first of all, Eviscerated Panda... What an awesome band name and book title. Just take a minute to appreciate it. Go ahead I'll wait...
Are you finished? Then we shall begin.
From the moment we received the email from the author, Sarah Tipper, asking us to review her debut novel; I knew I HAD to get my hands on it. And fought like a savage wolverine against my colleagues to ensure that I did so.
Combining two of my biggest loves, heavy metal and literature, Eviscerated... provides entertainment by the truck-load; tracking the lives of a newly formed, Reading based thrash band, and their FWAGS (Friends, Wives and Girlfriends). Vocalist Nick is an underachiever and a disappointment in his parents' eyes; rhythm guitarist Ian is a metalhead through and through, and an all round good guy; drummer Paul is a handyman, and can seem married more to the band than his wife; Phil hopes his virtuoso guitar skills will take him from worshipping porn to re-enacting it; and Jim, well Jim's a bassist really...With a nympho girlfriend.
The female perspective is displayed almost too realistically through the FWAGS; Cleo and Jenni are best friends and have known Ian since school, they're the Panda's biggest fans and best friends; Angie is Paul's wife, and she wants nothing but the best for him, and their marriage; Suzy is Jim's excitable girlfriend, and their contrast of character makes eventful reading.
Weaving all of these characters together is a tale filled with; love, hate, deceit, betrayal, and of course metal. The huge arsenal of references to rock and metal acts throughout the book reassures you to read on and shows Sarah's knowledge of the 'Encyclopedia Metallum'. Sarah also teaches a life lesson in rock 'n' roll to all newcomers through 'Cleo's' handbook, A Girl's Guide to Metal. Covering all aspects of a metalhead's way of life, AGGTM should be published and given to all teenage rockers; the world would be a much better place.
Sarah has developed a great writing style that flows well and is great fun to read; though some metaphors may see you heading to Google. This writing style creates great imagery and in-depth characters and locations. But be warned, she creates VERY believable characters that can be compared to those you know; including yourself. This can be a curse, as you are helpless to keeping your favored characters from making 'wrong' decisions, and the final scene hints at heartache for 'my' character in the sequel.
Overall, Eviscerated Panda is one of the best debut books I’ve ever read, and possibly the most enjoyable book I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it. Eviscerated does for the underground metal scene what The Inbetweeners did for sixth forms - throwing a host of likeable, familar characters into situations we can all idenitify with; and this sense of identity helps the story to resonate with the reader. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to read and review what is surely going to become something huge.
Up the Panda's! \m/
Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/