Adult / Fiction / Realistic
I gave this book 4 out of 5 Stars.
In Kill the Balloons, the 2000s are under way, and it's a typical Saturday for a group of twenty-somethings, living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. These hipster friends share a common set of ambitions: getting high, getting drunk, and hooking-up, and while each has an occasional thought of a better life, none can be bothered to do anything about it, opting instead for the comfort of here and now. With a playlist of musical references and photos of places around Brooklyn, author Anthony Joseph Morrone paints an often dreary, aching picture of a generation with a markedly bleary identity.
Morrone provides a cast of eight or so primary characters, introducing the unique traits of each in order to create a distinct impression on readers. Morrone's strength is in his use of figurative language -- often extensive -- to provide vivid snapshots of his characters and their surroundings. For example, in describing the setting of a dismal Brooklyn neighborhood, Morrone writes:
A plastic garbage can rolled around in the wind, banging itself back and forth on the curb like a confused inmate, arms strapped behind her back in the corner of a padded room, rocking herself against the wall in an attempt to make sense of her surroundings.
Where the book suffers is in the lack of editing -- which bothered this reader but may not be an issue for others -- but more so in the narrow audience. A reader unfamiliar with Brooklyn will not appreciate the insider references; a reader unfamiliar with the music of "the singles," will not understand the soundtrack to these characters' lives; and a reader who was not a twenty-something during that decade will not understand the lack of ambition and choices made by the characters. Quite honestly, I found very little to like in any of the characters and found the book terribly depressing.
Kill the Balloons is not a book where I could ever find a connection to or understand the characters; however, their dialogues are realistic and memorable. Anthony Joseph Morrone shows promise as a skilled writer, and I will not soon forget being along for this Saturday in Brooklyn where the cry of “kill the balloons” hides many different stories.
This book was reviewed for Readers' Favorite, which provided me an eBook copy in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.
PERSONAL NOTE: Yes, the book needs editing, and yes, the book is full of sex and profanity and excessive drinking and drug use and aimless young adults who need to grow the hell up and do something productive -- all things I don't enjoy reading about. This book was not for me, and I didn't like it, but that doesn't mean it's a bad book. If you read it, I'd love to know your thoughts.