1976 was the year everything changed. It was the year full of love, hate, passion, hatred and exciting things. It was also the year of William Bonney, Billy the Kid, the boy from Belfast.
Since the summer of ‘76, I have kept his secrets but times have changed. It’s time to tell the truth and to tell Billy’s story. I can’t even begin to tell that story though without explaining about Curtis Ray. He was cool, hip and the guy that every girl wanted to be with. ’76 was the summer that started everything. The beginning of our band was the beginning of the end…
What I thought
I’d never read a Kevin Brooks book before this one but I know a lot of people rave about his writing so when I got the review request, even though it didn’t totally look like my kind of thing, I decided to give it a chance!
Each character in this book was so unique and different from the next and that was something I really loved. The main character, Lili, is quite sweet and innocent at the beginning and a massive contrast to Curtis, the boy who takes her under his wing. In one way, I kind of think that Curtis corrupted Lili a little bit, showing her a completely different way of life and introducing her to drugs and drink but then on the other hand, I think maybe she might have turned out the same way anyway due to the era and what was going on. I liked Lili though, she brought a softer side to a very hard story and gave it the feminine edge that it needed.
Curtis and Billy were the most interesting characters though. Curtis is a complete wild child and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He just wants to live his life his own way and not have people telling him what he should and shouldn’t do. Although this gets him into a heap of trouble at time, I admired him for his bravery and determination. As crazy as Curtis was, he had a softer side to him that was rarely seen as it only came out when he and Lili were alone but it was good to see that he wasn’t totally wild. Billy was nearly the complete opposite to Curtis. Yes, he still drinks, sometimes does drugs and has a good time at parties but he was a much quieter and subdued character. Billy had a lot of hidden depths and it was great to hear his story being revealed at small intervals, always leaving me wanting more about him.
As Naked is about the story of a band in the late ‘70s, there are a lot of references to drugs, sex and drinking. Because of these things, Naked is definitely not a book for younger readers. I didn’t mind these things in the book at all though because they were so fitting with the setting of the book. I wasn’t even born in the ‘70s but I felt like all of these aspects helped to add to the atmosphere of the punk era and to make it possible for me to feel like I was actually there. Brooks’ writing was so vivid and intense that I could picture every skanky bar and party extremely well. The whole punk aspect of the book was something that interested me greatly as I had never read anything about it before, nor did I know anything about it beforehand. Another big issue which is brought up is the IRA and problems in Ireland during the time and again, I didn’t really know much about this so it really fascinated me and I think these things made Naked intense, interesting and complex.
The pacing in Naked is a bit hit and miss and felt all over the place at times. Just when it began to get really exciting, it would slow down completely for a large amount of pages and I thought this transition could have been a lot smoother. All of a sudden, the action stopped and the story would change to being dreary. Even so, these slower parts of the book really gave me a chance to get to know the characters better and to pay attention to the smaller things that they did or said which wouldn’t have been included I guess if there had been a lot more action and excitement.
I loved Kevin Brooks’ writing and how he is able to bring an era I wasn’t alive for to life. I am really glad I started with this book and because I loved it so much, I am desperate to get my hands on more of his books now.