Karen Everett is a young woman who isn’t sure where she’s going in life, but she has a notebook full of poetry and dreams. Those dreams were forever altered when she started listening in on a band practicing along her regular walking route. When she leaves her notebook behind and it’s discovered by one of those band members, their dreams are forever altered too. With a woman on drums, another on keyboard, and the dynamic beauty and voice of Lana Kent on lead guitar and vocals, the trio had a sound worth listening to. But it wasn’t until cello and violin playing Karen, with her poetic phrases and mournful strings joined the group that they finally had something to say.
When they get their big break on local television, the world itself seems to stop and listen. Sometimes it’s just a matter of having the right sound at the right time but the newly dubbed band, Radiation Canary, surged in popularity. Fame itself is hard enough to handle for someone who is experienced but for a somewhat naïve Karen Everett, it proves to be a real challenge. The band does more than travel the country and win the hearts of a nation. They also walk a path of self-discovery, tragedy, and triumph. But every one of them knows that it’s only a matter of time before the attention of fickle fans begins to move elsewhere. Radiation Canary is a band that has certainly soared into the heavens but at the end of the day, that little bird must come home. This book is about their journey and eventual return.
While the story is about the entire band, it seems to weight heaviest on the persona of Karen Everett. There are points when the tale is told from her point of view specifically, while the rest is in third person. But the transition is so seamless and natural that I felt no confusion whatsoever. It just felt…right. The other three band members also share the spotlight. Lana Kent is a driving force throughout, with her charisma and looks. Her relationship with Karen is complicated but through it all they share a core of love and family. Cody Renton is the drummer and Lana’s best friend since high school and has a spirit that is perhaps a little freer than the others. Lastly there is Vanessa Grace on keyboard. It was her practice space originally but Lana convinced her to share. The three originals were good, they had talent, but it wasn’t until Karen came along that they were really a band.
Geonn Cannon has this ability to write real, engaging, and sometimes flawed characters that endear you to them. By the end of the book I felt like I was part of the band, like Karen, Lana, Cody, and Vanessa were all people I had known for years. While each one had individual trait that may not have been great, overall they were wonderful characters and those traits made them seem even more realistic in my head.
The Writing Style
The book is organized like tracks on an album and it follows the timeline of each album released by the band. It is sort of like a retelling of their history. For the most part the book is written in third person, flitting focus from one person to the next, depending on what the scene called for. Every once in a while it would switch to the first person viewpoint of Karen. Normally switching view like that would be book doom but the author did it so well and so flawless that it left nary a ripple in my subconscious. It was right for what I was reading at the time.
To date, I’ve never read descriptions of music and live performance that are as emotive and spot on as the ones written by Geonn Cannon. With his words I watched each show, I played in each show…I was both fan and performer. When the audience cried, so too did I. And when the band cried, I felt it in my heart. Before reading The Rise And Fall Of Radiation Canary, I would have said it was impossible for a book to invoke that exact feeling within my chest I get when listening to music that raises the hairs on my arms and causes my heart to race.
I loved the language used by Geonn Cannon. He put heart and soul into each and every character in this book but his lyrical style and descriptive prose put a depth of emotion into each performance that few other can accomplish.
There were aspects of the character’s personalities that could be annoying but for the most part you could take them as just part of the whole human package. One thing I noticed about Geonn Cannon’s writing, is that he doesn’t always take you where you expect, or even want to go, but you eventually get to the place that is write for the story.
One thing I found muddled was in my physical mental image of the band members. While I had an excellent image of their personalities, I found it harder to imagine what they looked like in my head.
I rated this book, and its sequel, a five out of five. That is not a score that I take lightly.
One I can’t finish, two means I’ve read it but I didn’t like it at all. Three probably encompasses the most as being good to average. Four is excellent and I’d read the book again. But five…five means the book touched my heart and stayed with me long after I put it down.
Five means I’ll read that book again and again throughout the years, and I will actively seek out other books by that author.
If you love fictional books about bands or music, this read is for you. If you love books about engaging characters seeing their way through adversity to triumph in the end, this book is for you. If you love romance and discovery of new love, this book is for you. But you know what? Don’t take my word for it, just read it. And when you’re done, you’ll thank me as you buy its sequel.
Excerpt from The Rise And Fall Of Radiation Canary by Geonn Cannon
“—K, you can sit this one out.”
I feigned indifference. “Do I get paid the same?”
Lana flashed her teeth. “Yeah, you get paid the same. Uh. I’m a little nervous. I’m not used to playing music without Karen backing me up. So I hope it’s not too hard to hear. I hope you enjoy it.” She began to play, and I held my violin at my side and sipped my water as I listened to the mystery song. The music was beautiful and ethereal; I could almost see Nessa forming circles in the air over her instrument, a hypnotic swirl of music that wrapped around the words when Lana began to sing in a soft, reverent voice.
“She’s filling the pages of her book
With all the words she doesn’t know how to say
All the times I never gave her a second look
She just sat silently and listened to us play.”
I put down my violin and turned, leaving the stage before the audience could see me cry. Lana either didn’t see me or didn’t let it deter her. Nessa’s melody softened to give over the power to Lana’s voice, and I grabbed the first soft thing I could find to bury my face in it.
“I didn’t have a voice until I found it in her pages
And now I’m singing to the world, standing on its stages
She gave me a voice, and let me share it with you all
I’m only standing her tonight ‘cause of the girl on the wall…”
The music slowed, with Lana’s guitar fading to be replaced with Nessa’s keys and a steady beat from Codie. I focused on the sound so I could make it through the next verse. Lana’s voice was reverent, reminding me of the opening of “Prayer,” and I wiped the tears from my cheeks. A stagehand asked if I was okay and I could only nod.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN: 9781938108303
- Publisher: Supposed Crimes LLC; 1 edition (March 13, 2013)
Geonn Cannon Online
Note: I purchased The Rise And Fall Of Radiation Canary by Geonn Cannon myself. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.