Bobby Sky: Boy Band or Die by Joe Shine
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson is out of luck. His charm and singing voice—and penchant for bursting into song at all the wrong times—can’t keep him out of trouble anymore. When he’s arrested (again), he’s given a choice: die in juvie or become a shadow—the fearless, unstoppable, and top-secret guardian of a Future Important Person, or FIP.
With nothing to lose, Hutch accepts. After two grueling years at the Future Affairs Training and Education (FATE) Center, Hutch, now 16, can barely remember the boy he once was. Ready for anything, he expects to be plunged into a battle zone.
Instead, he learns that his FIP is someone named Ryo Enomoto: the soon-to-be front man of the boy band International. Worse, Hutch has to put his old talents to use. He must join the band and change his name to Bobby Sky. Is this for real? Has he really turned himself into a lethal killing machine . . . only to become a teen pop sensation?
ARC provided by Soho Press/Soho Teen via NetGalley for an honest review.
How can you resist that title? Combined with that cover you just have to give this book a shot. It ended up being a different read than I expected, it is darker and at times disturbing but still a riveting read that you won’t be able to put down.
“It’s okay if my story ends here, heck, maybe it’s supposed to. It has been a ride, I’ll give you that. I was betrayed, heartbroken, shot, stabbed, and run over. And that was just during my first year in the program. That’s not even the good stuff. How do plane crashes, death squads, car chases, and the Yakuza sound? Are you interested? If not, you need to seriously reevaluate what you are looking for in your entertainment needs, because that stuff should raise the eyebrow of a hairless cat.”
I liked Hutch/ Bobbly almost from the start. He is a bad boy with a heart of gold. He is also witty and smart, and his attitude often gets him in trouble, but it also gets him out of it at times to. The story starts with Hutch at fourteen but by the end he is 19 and an international rock star. How he gets there is pretty unbelievable, but through it all he manages to keep his heart and care about what happens to others, even those he doesn’t know. Even when the program destroys all of his friendships and threatens everyone he cares about he still does all he can to protect them.
FATE is one messed up place, and it is pretty brutal and cruel. At first Hutch refuses to hit a girl, but they beat that out of him. Through his 2 years there he has to kill or die. These are kids who were suppose to be dead anyways, so it doesn’t matter if they die during their training. Things are pretty bleak, but Hutch wants to survive and at times he enjoys his training, like when he learns to fly planes and all types of vehicles. He doesn’t want to hurt others, but he has to or be hurt himself. It is pretty messed up. I was happy when he was able to leave that life.
The story is all told by Hutch/Bobby in the first person, which makes it more personable. There are also some futuristic aspects to the story that puts it on the edge of science fiction. There is a drug that keeps all of the kids from feeling pain, useful when you are being beaten up on a daily basis. And then they use another device to bond you to your FIP, which is kind of messed up. If your FIP dies you lose your mind.
Because the plot covers a huge time span, there is not a lot of time devoted to his time in the Boy Band. I would have enjoyed reading about that part of his life a bit more. There are huge leaps in time, which were necessary but still jarring at times. Overall the plot was fascinating, fast paced and with some twists that made you want to keep reading. There was also a bit of a James Bond feel to the story, especially towards the end.
I thought this was a standalone, but discovered after reading it that there is another book that probably comes before the story in this one. Which now explains part of the ending that I was a little confused about. Bobby Sky can be read first, as I think it is a story separate from the first. But I will let you know after I read the first book, I Become Shadow. Hopefully there will be a third book, although there is nothing listed yet.
A gripping read for fans of James Bond or dark thrillers.