A Rock N Roll Band To Die ForWhen Fourteen Year Old Callie McCallan Scores A Backstage Pass To Interview The Lead Singer Of The Famous Band Brass Rat, She S Thrilled Peter Gringras Is So Cool When He Plays His Flute, It S As If He Has Some Kind Of Hypnotic Power But There Is Something Strange About Him, Something Callie Can T Quite Put Her Finger On Then, On Halloween Night, Callie S Little Brother Nicky Disappears, Along With All The Other Children In Town It S Crazy, But Callie Thinks She Knows Where The Children Have Gone And Who Took Them To Prove It, And To Rescue Nicky And The Other Children, Callie Must Journey To A Mythical World Filled With Fantastical Creatures A World From Which There May Be No Return Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma which reading list to follow it up with Variety is the spice of life, so I ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously This book falls into my LOCUS Y A list.I think I ll always have a soft spot for imaginative young adult speculative fiction and as the good people at Locus did such a grand job with picking their Sci Fi winners, I ll trust them to single out some special y a books too.Ugh How did Pay the Piper ever win a Locus award 2006 cannot have been a great year for YA books It s not a bad book, but it very, very OK.American, teenage girl, blah blah blah, quirky name, blah blah blah, a rock folk band retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, blah blah blah, fairy politics, blah blah snrk Did I drift off there for a minute Look I m not terribly good at writing negative reviews I like books and I appreciate the effort put an author puts into telling a story Because I ve been working my way through award winners for the last couple of years, I ve become somewhat spoilt I expect the cr me de la cr me Instead I got vanilla yoghurt Nothing wrong with vanilla yoghurt, but I ve never deliberately bought it.There are two halves to this story worth discussing the concept and the execution The fantasy concept isn t too bad really Who was the Piper Why did he lead all those kids into the mountain What s his backstory What if he was still around So we ve got an immortal fairy prince, banished to the mortal world for killing his brother, forced to pay a tithe of gold or souls every seven years or become mortal himself Because of his innate fairy gift for music, his bounced about over the centuries, trying to scratch up enough cash to pay the tithe or, as a last resort when he s broke stealing children Nice guy, real likeable, huh In the modern era he s the frontman for a folk rock band playing flute and singing at the same time and writing songs which are all about himself and his plight, because he s self absorbed, arrogant prick like that So the band do a gig, the night before they have to pay the tithe, and it s the last paycheque they need to raise enough to pay the fairy king But the damn fools didn t read the fine print it s a charity gig and they ain t getting paid And you know what The Mask says can t make the scene if you ain t got the green so they re forced to steal the children instead.The Piper makes out like he hates taking children and, woe is me, he feels much, much guilt But this sympathy shuttle s never ever gonna fly How irresponsible do you get, to leave it until the night before the bill is due before you fill the piggy bank And to not check the contract on a charity gig under those circumstances And then there s the alternative take the hit on the chin, pay the price yourself and become mortal yourself Nope Okay, so I m totally cheering your corner in your quest to beat the Fairy King s curse and get back home to fairyland, you brother murdering twat.Which puts all of the empathy burdon on our heroine, the bright as button, quirky little fourteen year old, Callie She must be quirky, right Because she has a quirky name And her siblings Mars and Nicolodeon have even quirkier names so this must be one hell of a kooky family Except it s not it s boring She s boring Her teeny bopper chitter chatter with her buddies is annoying as hell And her family are just so annoying petulant foot stamp and pout And gosh darn it, it s just so hard to write a review of a gig when you overheard the band talking about tithes and stuff Let s have a strop, huh She s immature if you haven t gathered.When I was fourteen I was going to xxxxx with my xxxxx and xxxing her actually that s a little too much personal detail for this review but let s just say my real life was considerably gnarly at that age than that of Callie and her picket fence crew If I d met Callie then, we wouldn t have been friends The girl is sheltered, conventional, hasn t got a drop of alternative attitude in her constitution despite the rock and roll allusions of the series and this story doesn t exactly push her out of her comfort zone She just sort of doddles along and solves the conundrum at the end.So an annoying child breaks a fairy curse and lets a murdering child thief go home Happy ever after BarfIf you want to read an excellent story of fairies playing rock and roll read War for the Oaks by Emma Bull that is everything that Pay the Piper should be.If you want to read an excellent modern, re imagining of the Piper with drum n bass instead of rock read King Rat by China Mieville.Save your time, skip Pay the Piper.After this I read I Shall Wear Midnight Not bad I would have loved this ten years ago, but I think it s one of those children s books that doesn t really transcend to adults that well very quick read with some lovely creative quirks. I had picked up this book in one of my usual library raids amongst a stack of other fairytale books I was actually really excited for it because of the whole, a rock n roll fairytale aspect thinking it would be similar to one of my favorite books, War for the Oaks, also a fantasy book revolving around rock n roll And a modern retelling of an old story always has its possible upsides, especially since this one was about the Pied Piper, certainly a tale that has yet to be overdone But my enthusiasm for the book was soon quashed While it has a lot of potential to be something good, the writing is nothing special, the story too one dimensional and the characters no one to care about My biggest qualm was the main character, fourteen year old Callie, written to be a stereotypical, embarrassed of her family teenager whose dialogue and attitude is that of a nine year old rather than a freshman in high school I m not sure which of the authors was most in charge of her but, whichever one, they highly underestimate the intelligence of young teenagers and write them to be far ignorant than any I know Without a main character I can get interested in, it s very hard for me to care about the rest of the story.Now, whoever wrote the fairy side of the story was pretty good The writing was well done, the characters far interesting and the story well developed But it just wasn t expanded upon enough There s potential for a really good story But the caliber of the authors didn t really seem strong enough to handle it Instead, the book was short and admittedly weak Not enough time was spent in the fairy world versus the real world and I just couldn t find myself invested in the story in the least.This certainly isn t a bad book I ve definitely read worse But, there s really nothing special about it at all aside from the very initial idea That s not to say that it shouldn t be read I mean, it makes a good enough children s book, I wouldn t recommend it for anyone older than maybe eleven But I don t expect this to make its way into many readers list of favorite books. I only got about 30 or 40 pages in This was terrible Honestly, it was terrible. The characters are cardboard and unbelievable, and my God, the dialogue I have never in my life heard children that speak like this I was actually sitting there flailing around angrily at how stiff and inexplicably unbelievable the dialogue was, yelling HAVE YOU EVEN EVER SPOKEN TO A TEENAGER Plus, a whole high school all excited about a folk rock band with a medieval schtick coming to town Idk, maybe there are places where that would happen, and I ve just never encountered it, but I found it hard to believe Let s not even get into how embarrassing I found that first rock show scene I gave up soon after that I was surprised by how awful this was, considering I ve read a couple of Yolen s works before and thought them pretty decent. I was very disappointed with this book Usually Jane Yolen writes fabulous tales, but Pay the Piper just didn t keep me interested The story was flat, the characters wooden and the ending a little too obvious The main thing that annoyed me was the constant defining of difficult words Yes, I understand the authors were trying to help their younger readers, but it really detracted from the flow of the story A glossary in the back would do just as well Or even a well written sentence explaining the word I don t need the Websters dictionary definition This was a riveting extension of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, grounding the story in the exile of a Faerie murderer who owes a tithe to his father every seven years Silver, gold, or human souls Modern day Callie, doing a story on the folk rock band Brass Rat for her high school paper, discovers that two of its members are exiled Fae with dangerous intent Somehow she has to turn what she knows into a way to save the kids of her town, including her little brother, when they vanish while trick or treating the next night Halloween. Good consistent story with historical connections the idea of a modern day pied piper ala Ian Anderson makes for a fun read The wording was a little rough in places, but nothing an edit pass or a little rewording wouldn t fix Fairly short chapters, made for good bedtime chapter book reading.Read with daughter, 12, who received the added opportunity to look up a few archaic and obscure words. Gosh, I wanted to like this, but it was just terrible The writing was uneven and weird The story didn t always quite make sense or hang together The rock n roll sections were just embarrassingly bad Yowch I flipped through to see what would happen, but it just got weirder and worse An unfortunate offering from Yolen, who is usually So Very Good. I really enjoyed this book, maybe because it was a short, quick read I thought the premise was fun and the characters were quirky I ve not read a lot of Yolen s work and what I have is the Children s lit not YA so I can t say how it compares to other books, but I would certainly read after this one. Jane Yolen, practically the Pied Piper herself of children s fantasy lit but in a good way, ho ho and her adult musician son have kickstarted a fun series with this first book Turning classic fairy tale lore into modern day teen angst and mystery works well, and I think will find a wide audience.
- 192 pages
- Pay the Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale
- Jane Yolen
- 18 October 2019 Jane Yolen