Anthony has finally achieved his dream as today is the day he receives his doctorate in Musicology, which is his third degree. His knowledge of music history is vast and he plays the piano the way that fits him best, but jobs in his field are hard to come by. After his parents died, Anthony was raised by his uncle and the man tolerates him at best. Anthony certainly does not give off a positive vibe. He is angry and spiteful and his negative feelings continue to consume and rule him even when his uncle offers him a job as a handler for a rock star.
Nik is a musician with an enormous cult-like following. His views on music are vastly different from Anthony’s and the men clash before they even meet. Nik’s concerts whip the crowd into a frenzy of sex, violence, and madness. The reason for the chaos is that Nik claims to be the Greek god Dionysus and people believe. Anthony is one of the few that refuses to believe Nik is what he claims to be until Nik’s music gets under his skin and in his head and he can’t tune it out or hear anything else. This definitely was not supposed to be his life.
This was a difficult book to read as a clear plot never evolved and at the end of the book I’m left with clues, mostly thinly veiled, as to what this book was truly about. I like books that are different and even ones that make you work for it, but at some point the plot and the reason has to be shared with the reader, even if it’s just enough to form our own conclusion, and this was not the case here for me. This read as if the author weaved a thought altering tapestry of a story for the characters in regards to Nik’s persona and influence, but in the end still didn’t want to fully share what was in her mind.
The book is told from Anthony’s first person POV and first person is a style I will often seek out. But let’s see…Anthony is miserable throughout the entire book. There are no instances we are shown that Anthony has ever been anything but miserable for even a moment and he alternates between being cranky, depressed, mean, and disillusioned. He believes his views on music are the only correct ones, that he is better than everyone, and refuses to even acknowledge that there could be any validity to any other viewpoint. He’s so outraged at having to take this job handling Nik that he is obstinate from the first word, even when he takes up residence in the man’s home. Everything we see of Nik is filtered through Anthony, but it’s all skewed because he despises Nik and doesn’t believe in him until he does…maybe.
Nik could have been an interesting character, but we are never allowed to see anything of him other than through Anthony. What or who Nik is exactly is completely left open to interpretation, but there’s not enough of him shown to form an opinion as to whether he truly is god or mortal. No one knows his real name, he refuses to leave his signature on anything, and his entire history is shrouded in mystery. Even at the very end, more mysteries are introduced with zero resolution.
This book is certainly not a romance and it’s not a relationship or even a friendship. Anthony is gay, but not out, and Nik is overtly sexually with any gender and many of his concerts culminate into orgies with the majority of the details being off page. The first time the men touch, it’s mostly shown in Anthony’s mind through a haze similar to a drug induced hallucination and even he is unclear as to what is exactly happening. There are several other instances where Nik crawls into Anthony’s head and it was presented as if Anthony was in a dream-like state on the verge of madness and his reality was then called into question.
There were areas of intelligent writing as the author appears to be well versed in music history, but if it is a subject that you are not familiar with, much of the banter and inside jokes will be lost. At the end, I was left with the feeling that many of the plot’s details were never exposed and compounded with an ambiguous and incomplete ending, The Backup would be a difficult book to recommend.