I don’t get many books through for review, but I’ve covered almost all of Sarah Tipper’s as she’s been nice enough to send copies! The Very Metal Diary of Cleö Howard is a prequel to the (currently) 4-book “Eviscerated Panda” series, but it a) won’t spoil the series if you’ve not read them yet and b) is full of original stuff that still makes is an enjoyable read if you have.
Obviously being influenced by Sue Townsend, Sarah’s gone for an actual diary approach of one entry per day over the course of a full year. It’s the life of Cleo Howard, aged 15-16, as she deals with all that life throws at her (and she deals with more than most) in terms of life, love, school and the pursuit of heavy metal.
I do wonder how much of the content is autobiographical! However, it’s a very easy read, even for a bloke. In fact, as a metal fan of that age and around that time in the 1990’s, I can sympathise with a lot of what Cleo goes through in the book, certainly relating to the musical side of things at least.
By having Cleo as an avid reader, it gives the perfect excuse for her imaginative writing rather than the badly-spelt crap you’d generally expect from a 15 year old, and lets the author get away with some nice turns of phrase and plays on words. It’s definitely a bit “sexy” in places, but cast your mind back to the days of puberty… It’s a pretty honest depiction!
One of my issues with the novels in the later series is the inclusion of a lot of lists – the songs played at a party, or the list of people someone wants to sleep with. They stand out as too conversational in the text. However, those same lists fit perfectly in this diary setting. Overall it’s a pleasant, easy read and because the “chapters” are so small it’s very easy to pick up and plough through or read in bite-size chunks as time allows.
I spotted one flaw in the metal-related facts within, and told Sarah about it. She’s undecided as to whether to fix it or leave it in to see if anyone else spots it!
Overall I think I enjoyed this more than the novels. It comes across as personal, and funny. It brings back memories of being that age (even as a male, as I’ve said), and has moments that will make the reader smile… and others that are quite shockingly sad.
[credit to Bernie Galewski for the header photo]