Publication Date: December 17, 2012
In Soul’d Out by G.E. Butler, Beatrice Ball has been famous for a long time and her overprotective mom has sheltered her from much of the music world. She and her friend, Nic, have taken to “ghosting” (going out disguised). One ill-fated night, Nic takes Bea to a party given by a notorious host and, by morning, Nic is dead. What follows is a murder mystery involving a child pornography ring and, for Bea, a side of the music industry she never wanted to see.
I am in awe of the complexity of the characterization and plotting of In Soul’d Out. All threads lead out and, eventually, all lead back in. We see varied characters at stages in their lives and development in great detail. We know why luxury is important to Tammy — why God is important to Elie — why Mezziah is motivated by success and not overly bothered with ethics. There are so many examples that I could give potential readers, but all of them feel spoilerish because this is an author where just about everything is relative to the advancing story line There are few wasted scenes.
In a lot of cases, the narrative in In Soul’d Out is disturbingly graphic. The opening scenes involve a party highlighting the worst of Hollywood excess. Sex and drug use is graphic and perhaps a little shocking, but not gratuitous. Most of what happened in that scene ties into the story line in a meaningful way. Our first exposure to the hedonistic lifestyle is also Beatrice’s. In putting the character and the audience in that situation together, we know that Bea is an average girl who got into a situation over her head because, like us, she never imagined this world was out there. In another scene, a child who has been living in a bank of cages with other children and animals with just enough room to lie on her back, witnesses a newborn being put in a hot oven and baked. These scenes are well spaced and, as stated, not gratuitous but hard to read. So hard to read. When given that child’s back story, the reader really thinks about missing children in America and the thought weighs on the soul, but isn’t that the point of good literature? To make the reader think?
I don’t know the music industry, so I couldn’t say if varied characters are based on real people in the industry. Some of the things that Vanessa did recall were stories read in tabloids about Brittany Spears. Vanessa was extreme. If Brittany suffered a quarter of the dysfunction that Vanessa does in the story line, she could be forgiven for going off the rails as she did. Vanessa was a pawn to be directed and discarded at the will of the person running the show.[easyazon-link asin=”B00AQ2ICBG” locale=”us”]Soul’d Out[/easyazon-link] is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t mind graphic descriptions and grit, this is a great story–well written and expertly crafted. Despite the copious amount of back story, the novel flowed and, in the end, all tied together. Normally, I would suggest it for fans of a certain author, but if this novel has a peer, I haven’t read it.
I received this book as an advanced reader’s copy on its release day from the author. My review is a true reflection of my opinion of the novel.
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