My Favorite Band Does Not Exist
by Robert T. Jeschonek
Idea believes he is a character in a novel written by a malevolent author. He fears that his death is coming ever closer. Soon Chapter 64 will come, and after that he will no longer exist. He spends his time running a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and Youtube channel for a band he made up named Youforia. He did it for fun, but now more and more fans are gathering to the imagined band.
And then someone releases a track for the band. The public goes wild. Idea isn’t that bothered by the fact that someone is cashing in on his idea. Instead, he’s wondering why the track sounds exactly like he imagined the band would sound like.
Reacher, lead singer of the secret band Youforia, is perplexed by the band’s website. Who designed it? And how does that person know what Reacher is thinking before he even announces it to his bandmates?
Someone is pulling the strings in both Idea’s and Reacher’s lives. Someone has put them on a collision course with each other.
And when they meet, it could mean the end of universes.
Jeschonek has created a truly unique work. The tone strikes me as a mix of Watchmen, Brazil, and Donny Darko. There’s a playful sensibility mixed in with just plain weird. The beginning of the book left me intrigued and yet cold to the characters.
Something really neat happened, though. First, both main characters are reading the same book: Fireskull’s Revenant. It’s a book about… well, a man with a skull that’s on fire. The novel-within-a-novel is so over-the-top dark fantasy that I couldn’t help but laugh at it. However, it soon becomes apparent that Reacher, Idea, and Fireskull all follow similar paths. Jeschonek plays on expectations well; as soon as I figured out that Reacher and Idea were linked, I found him playing on that expectation in delightful ways.
The novel takes us on a wild trip, but I wasn’t entirely convinced I liked it.
Until the last few chapters where everything comes together (conveniently, in Chapter 64). In those last few chapters, the characters try to break free of the author’s control. It reminded me a bit of those old Looney Toons where Daffy would yell at the animator, and the two would get into a fight. Well, imagine that played relatively straight. And then imagine it working out well. The sheer idea of characters in a book fighting against the malevolent author made me sit up and take notice.
The feel of the last few chapters reminded me a lot of the first viewing of The Matrix. (I still haven’t seen the sequels. I have been told not to bother.) At the end of The Matrix, Neo has realized who he is. You have this sudden moment when everything comes together, and you’re straining to see what will happen now that Neo has become what he will become. And then the movie ends!
Jeschonek ends the novel on a similar note – and it’s so pitch-perfect, I hope he’s not planned on doing a sequel. Any sequel would just mess up this delicious climax.
I will not recommend this if you’re looking for a “normal” read. While it’s not particularly challenging (unlike, say, House of Leaves or S.), it is so strikingly different that unless you’re feeling up to bathing in some strange, stay away.
On the other hand, if you’ve just finished another readthrough of Sandman and you’re looking for something a little out there that doesn’t demand the sheer weight of literacy and thought that Sandman does, this is a great place to go. And like I said, the ending is well, well worth it.