Book Review: Davey Havok’s ‘Pop Kids’

Being a pretty big AFI fan, I was really excited to read the lead singer, Davey Havok‘s debut novel ‘Pop Kids’. To summarise, its the story of the young famed-obsessed Michael Massi, a self-proclaimed straight edge vegan growing up in a small town in California. Rebelling against his meat eating Italian parents, Christian neighbours and outcast social status, he sets up film nights in an abandoned theatre, dreaming of propelling himself to the heights of reality TV stars and the bright lights of LA.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who began reading this and immediately thought of Havok writing himself as the lead. Written in first person, its hard to differentiate the character’s thoughts from that of the author. The references to AFI’s lyrics are also easy to spot (for those of us who’ve listened enough), the Phoenix Theatre, the ‘candle wax and dried up flowers’.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t find the lead character likeable. I found him increasingly unlikeable. Without giving away too much of the plot, his judgements on women, criticising a friend’s girlfriend for refusing to perform OJ (oral joy, as he calls it..), then his obsession with the vegan blonde Becca, who he admires for her purity, whilst applauding Stella for her impurity. It’s vaguely hypocritical. Oh, and the constant referencing to clothing brands. Not being American, many times I had to Google the name, just to find out which item he was actually referring to.

Havok’s music taste, I’ll allow without judgement. Michael’s neverending quest for fame though, just feels cheap. I want him reach into the book and ask him why he needs it so much. Why he’s risking everything he has for it. Why he’s so devoted to the vapid Stella.

Feeling worlds apart from Michael, its hard for me to understand his goals. He grew up with the LA stars on the horizon, I grew up with the faint glow of London. Perhaps I’m simply more grounded in reality. Perhaps some are just born with loftier ambitions. Either way, the dissosociated youth presented in the novel is quite detached from my own experience. I can imagine his world exists, somewhere. Maybe at the parties I wasn’t invited to, amongst the ‘cool’ kids that I never fitted with.

It was a great relief when I read that the author doesn’t see himself as the lead either. I’m afraid I was starting to pass judgement on him, based on the character. However, its done nothing to deter the idea that I missed out on a lot in my teen years..

RC xx


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Davey Havok’s ‘Pop Kids’

  1. I agree, Score is an increasingly unlikable character. He really doesn’t know at all what he wants and seriously lacks conviction in his approach to just about everything.

    From what I’ve read, heard and seen, Davey’s primary intention was to emphasise the shallow, consumerist, fame and celebrity-obsessed youth of the present. Despite the continual misspelling of ‘breathe’ and some ill-placed apostrophes, I did enjoy the prose and it is a very readable (and oft-times humorous) novel.

    • Exactly. I did enjoy the book, it was an interesting insight into the lives of people in these situations. My main worry was that maybe Davey actually thought the same way that they did! Having read a few interviews with him about it, I’m pretty convinced he doesn’t. Which is good, because he’s someone that I really look up to..

      • It does feel a little difficult to separate the characters’ thoughts from the author’s at some points, not helped by the protagonist’s music taste and love of cats. Davey tends to make quite a point of expressing his disapproval of celebrity culture though, so perhaps the ambiguity is also a way of illuminating the fact that really, we don’t know him. I did also develop the sneaking suspicion that perhaps he wrote Michael how he (Davey) feels he may have turned out, had he been born twenty years later.

        I got a little concerned for Davey’s sanity when I first encountered the characters’ Twitter accounts before the book’s release, but my faith in him has been restored. Now we play the waiting game until September!

      • Twitter accounts? I didn’t even see them.. Please link me?
        Yeah, I think that’s a fair point. Let’s be grateful that Davey grew up as himself and not like Michael!

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