Wannabes by Michael Logan
Celebrities are mobbing London’s laser clinics as a deranged wannabe bumps off A-listers, believing he can absorb their powers and become famous by taping their tattoos to his body.
Washed-up pop star Jackie Thunder isn’t joining the stampede. Jackie figures that if he can get on the killer’s hit list, without the inconvenience of being murdered, he’ll gain the publicity needed to reignite his career.
But there’s more at stake than Jackie can possibly imagine. His desperate ploy for attention plunges him into the heart of a decades-old demonic plot to destroy great music through murder, mayhem and manipulation.
With humanity’s collective soul at stake, how far will Jackie go to reach the top?
Back in 2012, I read Michael Logan’s debut novel, Apocalypse Cow, and thoroughly enjoyed the undeniably bonkers plot. C’mon, what’s not to love? Zombie bovine mayhem with a deliciously subversive heart, I thought it was great. Fast forward to 2014 and Mr Logan is back. No cows on the menu this time, instead it’s time to use the vagaries of fame as the backdrop for his latest tale.
Poor old Jackie Thunder has passed his prime. His glory days are long gone and he is fading into obscurity with every passing headline. He steadfastly refuses to give up on fame without a fight though. Jackie is prepared to do just about anything to remain in the public eye. His media blitz isn’t going as smoothly as he could have hoped, and every decision he makes appears to guarantee failure. He’s just been voted out of the latest Z-list edition of Celebrity Big Brother for singing too often, not great when you’re a singer. He then finds himself splashed across the front covers of the tabloids for all the wrong reasons. To make matters even worse, he is all but broke and has been forced to move back in with his mother. Throwing caution to the wind, Jackie decides the best/only option for success is to court the attention of a serial murderer. Jackie is determined to stay famous, or die trying.
Hidden beneath all the dark comedy, Logan deftly picks apart the nature of celebrity culture. The seemingly ever-growing obsession with fame in the 21st century is placed under a microscope and ruthlessly dissected. Jackie Thunder in particular is a bit of a self-obsessed twit, but you can’t help but warm to him. Yes, he has an ego the size of a small country that runs rampant from time to time, but underneath it all, he’s not a bad person. He has fallen foul of the trap that seems to capture so many nowadays, he equates celebrity and fame with happiness. Jackie thinks that if he can bask in the loving glow of society it will make everything better. The unfortunate thing is that he is not the only one who thinks like that. There is another person who has had a similar thought. The difference is that this other individual is quite prepared to go much, much further than Jackie to achieve the adoration they crave.
There is also nice little supernatural edge to proceedings. Turns out that Hell is directly involved in the music industry, though probably not in quite the way you would think. I’ll not give anything away, it would spoil the surprise, but suffice to say you’ll never be able to view X Factor in the same way again. As Jackie fights to survive, a much bigger battle is also taking place. Hell better watch their back, the forces of Heaven have a few musical surprises of their own.
I’ve always been a bit in awe of authors that manage to pull off that difficult trick of writing effective humour. It strikes me as being one of the darkest of dark arts. Logan certainly has skill in this department, and he blends the bitingly satirical with the delightfully nonsensical with ease, creating a wonderfully entertaining mix. If anything, this story is perhaps a trifle more restrained than the madness of Apocalypse Cow, but there is still plenty in Wannabes that will raise a smile. Jackie’s mum is a particular delight, she reminds me of my own dear old ma 🙂
Michael Logan has managed two for two with his novels so far. Genuinely humorous writing with a diverting premise, I enjoyed rattling through this novel in a couple of sittings.
There is a phrase that has just sprung to mind – “daft as a brush”. It’s used to describe someone who is known to do and say silly things. I think we may have to extend this definition to include those who write silly things. Michael Logan falls squarely into this category, long may this continue.
Wannabes is self-published by the author, and is available now. Apocalypse Cow: World War Moo* will be available next year.
* I’ll admit I’m a little in love with that title and wish I had thought of it. Damn you Logan!