Published by Point on February 23, 2016
Genres: Comedy, YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine, YA Books Central
From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.
Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.
We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.
We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.
How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
Diversity Rating: 3 – Closer to Reality
Racial-Ethnic: 3 (Apple is Chinese, Isabel is Dominican)
QUILTBAG: 1 (one of the Ruperts is gay)
Intersectionality: 3 (Apple is a fat Chinese girl adopted by white parents as a baby)
Every time I open my mouth to talk about this book, all that comes out is an awe-soaked expletive like “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.” It’s that kind of book. I used to hate how the cover looked like a placeholder, but now that I’ve read the book, I don’t think there’s a better image. Pink to represent the femininity associated with boy band fandom (because they’re all supposed to be girls and bullshit like that) and black for the utter fucking darkness in the hearts of the four girls who end up kidnapping Rupert P, aka The Worst Rupert. You have no idea what you’re in for and that’s what makes it oh so good.
Unreliable narrators are my catnip and that’s exactly the kind of character our narrator is. Readers never learn her real name; her friends never use it and she gives names from 80s movies like Sloane Peterson and Lydia Deetz when asked–and this girl is supposed to be the sane one of the bunch. After all, Erin is the ringleader with a vengeful agenda in mind, Isabel is the enforcer who seems to be replacing our narrator as Erin’s best friend, and Apple is the girl whose money makes it possible for the girls to get so close to the Ruperts in the first place. The Ruperts more than earned Erin’s single-minded vengeance, but dear God, Erin, this is going a bit far.
Part one of the novel is all about the thrill of what happens when four boy band fans (for the Ruperts, it’s the Strepurs) get ahold of their least favorite member of the One Direction-esque band. Part two starts with a bang and will send your jaw right to the floor as things turn in more of a “mystery thriller” direction, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny even at its darkest. The madness only gets better (or worse) from then on and Kill the Boy Band becomes impossible to put down as the girls’ friendship falls apart, our narrator starts sneaking around with her favorite Rupert, and someone gets tossed off a penthouse balcony.
Making fun of the teenage girls who love Justin Bieber, One Direction, and the like is easy, but Moldavsky doesn’t do that at all. Girls love what they love for all sorts of reasons. In gorgeous prose, our narrator tells of how the music of the Ruperts helped her cope with her father’s death and connected her to Erin, her only “real” friend. Teenage girls love unlike any other group. Their kind of love is fierce and pure and terrifying and complicated. I may dislike Justin Bieber and his music, but I won’t make fun of his fans. They’ve all got their reasons and the wrath of a teenage girl scorned is one of the greatest forces on Earth. Harness that for war and you’ll be able to conquer whatever you please.
I’d also like to stop and appreciate the existence of Apple as a fat Chinese girl. Moreso than perhaps any other racial-ethnic group, Asian women are expected to be slender and those kinds of expectations can cause a incredible number of body image issues. By simply being, Apple subverts those expectations. She’s sheltered, she’s sweet, she’s complicated, she’s afraid of standing up for herself, and she is fat. These are the small but effective ways intersectionality works and makes a huge difference for readers.
HOWEVER. I want to point you to this Twitter thread for another woman’s views on Apple as an instance of poor representation of fat women. As a woman who has always been skinny, I don’t see her character the same way as a fat woman. Hollowell makes good points and I’d be remiss as both a reader and a feminist not to acknowledge and think about that.
Otherwise, I can’t think of a bad thing to say. Kill the Boy Band is utter madness in the form of a novel. If that’s not your groove at a given time, don’t read it until that is your groove and be prepared to get your jaw repaired. It’ll probably get dented a little bit when it falls away from your skull and ruins other books for you for a while.
People will always make fun of girls who love boy bands. It’s an unfortunate fact. This is the book that will make anyone smart fear and respect teenage girls, what they love, and what they will do to you if you push them to their breaking point. For the love of teenage girls who love fiercely and almost scarily, read this book.