Review: The Five
I’ve heard a lot about Robert McCammon’s novel, THE FIVE (Amazon). Mostly, I heard that it was “different”. I finally got around to reading it, and everyone was right. THE FIVE is different. But it was still easily recognizable as a McCammon novel. It was still Horror, though in a different way than we are used to seeing from the author. And it was still awesome.
So yeah. Business as usual for McCammon.
THE FIVE is a novel that clearly shows McCammon’s love of music. If you think about it, it isn’t too often that we get a window into an author’s likes and dislikes. I love seeing what makes an author passionate. THE FIVE is a book about passion. McCammon’s passion for music. That passion seeps into every layer of the book for a unique experience in speculative fiction.
THE FIVE follows an indie rock band called The Five. They are going out on their summer tour, and they think this is going to be the tour that makes them big. New song. New video. Everything is going the way they want. For the first, oh, three pages. You know the story, right? Members of an indie band doubt they will ever make it big, and they decide to move on.
This is a very character centric novel. We have the band members: Nomad (guitar/vocals), Mike (bass), Terry (keyboard), Ariel (guitar/vocals), Berke (drums), and their manager, George. THE FIVE gets really deep into the lives and pasts of these individuals. What I found so stunning was how quickly McCammon was able to make me care about the turmoil the band begins to go through. Some of them want out, and the emotion there is feels so incredibly real. Remember, this is Chapter 1. We don’t know these characters at all, and yet we automatically are interested in them and their plight. This may have been the quickest in which I latched on to McCammon’s characters.
For a while, the novel just seems like it’s going to be about the band’s journey. And then the band gains the notice of a war veteran with severe PTSD, Jeremy Pett. Thus begins the Horror novel as Pett decided to hunt them all down. I’m going to leave the rest of the plot alone for you to discover and enjoy.
Horror isn’t always supernatural. It’s a common misconception. Horror, as McCammon himself said in an interview here at EBR, is like a snake slowly encircling you and squeezing you until you are caught. Horror is also about a lack of control over your situation. Without question, THE FIVE is a Horror novel for the band members. But it is also a Horror novel for Jeremy Pett. While the novel doesn’t have a supernatural angle, the fact that it is so grounded in reality makes it even more terrifying.
It is because of this tone, and because of the terrific character building, that the other themes of loyalty, faith, friendship, love, and even stubbornness stand out and work so well.
Understand, THE FIVE is not a normal McCammon novel. There is much more time devoted to the history of rock, and the love of music and the instruments and people that make it all go. Many, many pages are devoted to the characters than you would normally see in a McCammon novel. But make no mistake, THE FIVE is one of McCammon’s best works.
- Recommended Age: 17+
- Language: Rock stars? Yeah. Tons of language.
- Violence: McCammon novel? Yeah. It can be pretty shocking.
- Sex: There is a pretty disturbing, detailed scene pretty late into the novel. And then tons of references.
If you like rock, or just music in general, this is a terrific novel. If you like McCammon, or just Horror in general, this is a terrific novel. If you like both those things? Quit reading this and go buy it.