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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Battle Creek: The 500 Song Rock and Roll Daydream by August Wanderlust follows the ambitious Hal, who dreams of creating a successful rock and roll band. Despite the eclectic mix of punk, metal, and classical influences from his current members, the band isn't complete until country guitarist Ricky joins. However, Ricky's peculiarities — attracting animals, vanishing at night, and misunderstanding modern life — increasingly become impossible to ignore, especially when a new, unsettling talent surfaces during a crucial concert. Forced to confront Ricky's mysterious nature, Hal struggles to maintain band unity and retain Ricky's exceptional skills, which could be jeopardized if his secrets are exposed. The tension between revealing truths that could disrupt their unity and the need for understanding threads through the narrative, creating a compelling fusion of mystery and music.
Going into the novel Battle Creek, I did not actually know that author August Wanderlust would actually dish up 500 rock and roll songs, and what a time I had ticking my favorites off the list! Who knew that Kenny Rogers, Ozzy Osbourn, and NSYNC could all be combined in a single breath? Such is the skill of Wanderlust in a story that is the most perfect symbol of pop culture fiction I have come across in a long, long time. From a literary standpoint, the writing is clean and the characters are fully developed. Another surprise was metaphysical elements that are not the result of drug use. You'd think a seed sprouting from a nut could only come from whatever Ryan and Mason were doing, but when you're in the scene as the story unfolds, it starts to come together. Battle Creek is lengthy but it doesn't feel unnecessarily so and, as far as genre-bending goes, Wanderlust hit all the right notes. Very highly recommended.