Oh how much did I adore Naked by Kevin Brooks?! If I'm honest, I was slightly worried about it beforehand. Even though I'm becoming an increasingly bigger fan of Kevin Brooks with each of his novels that I read, I was still a little bit wary about reading a book set in the late 1970s AND a book about punk rock. Mostly because I wasn't born in the late 70s and have almost no knowledge of punk rock.
Even so, I loved this book to bits. Kevin Brooks knows enough about the punk music scene in the summer of 1976 and has enough passion for telling this story that his enthusiasm for it has seeped into these pages, into these characters and into the story to make it irrelevalent that I knew nothing about punk beforehand. The characters of Lili and Billy the Kid, and of Curtis and their band felt fully formed. As I was reading Naked it really felt like *I* was there, that I became part of this wonderful story, sharing these personal moments between Lili and Curtis in the early part of their relationship, or the beginning days of Lili joining this punk band. Getting to know Billy the Kid. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Before all that, we have Lili. This sort of weird and quirky girl who has an interest in music, mostly classical music. And as she's playing the piano,Curtis walks into her life. Of course she's known OF Curtis for ages, he's cool and good-looking and she didn't think that he would ever have noticed her. But he did, and he thinks she'd be great as the new bass player in his band, Naked. And while Curtis helps Lili learn to play bass guitar as well as the band's songs, it feels inevitable that the chemistry between the two turns into something more. I loved read about this part of the book the most. When Lili's new relationship with Curtis and her introduction into the band feels so new exciting and special.
Because it doesn't always feel that way. While Kevin Brooks always delivers these wonderful descriptive passages about the atmosphere and how it feels to be playing punk music at gigs all over London, how people respond to Curtis' lyrics and behaviours and the giddiness and excitement of playing live-music, there's also the downward spirals of drug-taking and alcohol. There's violence and unreliability. Curtis seems to throw himself into this new punk scene where The Sex Pistols and other bands and leading figures are becoming more controversial and extreme. And then there's Billy the Kid. This mysterious boy who walks into Lili's life, joins the band, plays the guitar beautifully and changes Lili's life forever.
This is really such a brilliant book. I can't stress enough how much I loved it. There was such a great energy and passion about it. I felt very strongly about the characters right from the start, and was even starting to feel a little bit anxious as Curtis revels more and more in this dangerous and destructive lifestyle. While there's this sense of impending doom, I still so desperately wanted everything to work out OK. Especially for Lili.
I love, love, loved this book. And I cannot recommend it enough.