Thursday 3 March 2016

Reviewed: The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas by David F. Ross

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas was published in ebook by Orenda Books on December 24, 2015.

Thanks to Karen at Orenda for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Last year I read and loved The Last Days of Disco by David F. Ross, so I couldn’t wait to see where he would take the eccentric characters next in The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas, and what new personalities he would bring us too. Though this can be read as a standalone, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of the first book anyway because it’s a great book, full of humour and nostalgia and a story that had me hooked. The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas, however, is just as good or maybe even a little better, a comical yet touching tale of the lives of various characters living in Scotland in the 1980s and how they intertwine in a chaotic and wholeheartedly fun fashion.

The writing is completely fitting in its representation of Scotland 1980 and what it was like to live in that time. From the dialect to the cursing, the banter and the wit, to the musical and cultural references, the bold and brash characters, as mad as the whole story sounded you can kind of nod your head and believe it too. The author knows what he’s writing about and it pays off – dragging you as the reader into 1980s Scotland and keeping you fully engaged right til the end until you’re left impatiently waiting for more. The final book of the trilogy can’t come soon enough.

The band of the Miraculous Vespas are obviously at the forefront of this book but they are not the only characters of interest. There are several of them but don’t let that put you off because the author manages to ensure it’s not a challenging task keeping up with them all. They’re all so different and memorable and really add life to the story. I love or at the very least love to hate every single character David writes. Somehow amongst all the chaos and the sweary nature of this book, throughout pages of car-crash situations and jaw-achingly good wit, the author creates vivid characters with such depth to them that you begin to like them and grow attached to watching the crazy way in which everything unfolds for them.

In my experience, you don’t even need to relate to them. Other than a taste for the 80s soundtrack across the novel, I clearly had nothing in common with the characters’ lives or interests but it was almost irrelevant because I was wholly invested in their lives. I felt for the band throughout all the hope and despair, trying to make it and not always getting what they wanted. Max Mojo and his mental health also contributed to a lot of the emotional impact this story had. I was even moved by Fat Franny Duncan of all people, throughout his relationship and bond with his mother.

The writing in this book excels because it takes what would ordinarily be page upon page of humour and one-liners, keeps them, embraces them and yet at the same time the story is poignantly crafted, the wit balanced out with pure, genuine emotion. Having said that, that’s not to underestimate David’s one-liners of which there are too many to mention but you will laugh reading this book and I mean really you will.

My time spent trying to decipher the Scottish dialect in this book was made well worth it with a brilliantly entertaining story and one that really had all you could possibly want in a novel from the gritty themes of mental health, death and destruction to the lightness of laughter and the undeniable carnage brought through love and music. No moment goes wasted in this book as everything leaves an impression on the reader, whether it’s one of laughter or a feeling of nostalgia inspired by all the cultural references. The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is page-to-page entertainment and pretty unforgettable at that.

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