Outstanding ... Even if you didn’t spend your adolescence puking on your shoes in parking lots, flirting with calamity as distorted riffs thunder out of blown-out speakers or shutting your eyes while driving down the highway as you crank up to Fade to Black, Gone to the Wolves captures the feeling of loving something so intensely it just might kill you.
...masterfully portrays the heavy metal scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s through the eyes of Floridian teenagers. But don't let the topic scare you off; like any good novel about a subculture (or several), Wray's newest does not require prior knowledge of or interest in metal in order to enjoy it ... I was disappointed, however, with the characterization of Kira Carson, who despite glimmers of real human depth, reads all too often like a collection of damaged woman stereotypes, her sense of her own brokenness rendering her incredibly alluring to, apparently, all men everywhere ... Ultimately, Gone to the Wolves is a powerful and juicy novel about a particular time, subculture, and the ways people can find themselves in — or can deliberately disappear into — fandom.
As terrifying as the novel becomes, it’s also, at its core, a lot of fun. Its characters are kids hurling themselves at the world, escaping their past as much as finding themselves. They are reckless and headstrong but relatable. Each is essentially powerless when the story opens: traumatized, poor, displaced, angry, yet freed by the force of the music they mainline together. Gone to the Wolves is an anti-establishment treatise, bildungsroman and extreme love letter to the flame of youth.
Even as the story darkens, the writing remains light and campy, undermined by a constant barrage of chipper, laugh-track dialogue ... The result here is a jokey serving of ’80s nostalgia with a garnish of Satanism. That’s how I think of death metal, but I’m not sure Cannibal Corpse will be amused.
Wray deftly captures teenage alienation, the precarity of adolescence, and the way multiple subgenres of metal can provide solace, be it via glitzy fantasy or doomy angst ... A giddy, harrowing, manic, and often dark coming-of-age tale.
Masterly ... Wray writes about music with the enthusiasm of a fan and the precision of a critic, packing the pages with spot-on details and cannily capturing the allure of extreme music. The pages of this anthem are as uncompromising as the music they depict.