An epidemic of violence is sweeping the country: musicians are being murdered onstage in the middle of their sets by members of their audience. Are these random copycat killings, or is something more sinister at work?
... [a] wild roar of a novel ... Writing about music is tricky. Ninety-nine percent of the time hearing the actual song or going to the actual concert is far more revealing than any paragraph describing it. But Jackson pulls off this near-impossible feat, pulling the reader past the velvet ropes into the black-box theaters and sweaty, sticky-floored stadiums ... The prose can feel as cool as Rat Pack-era Sinatra and as sad as Lou Reed singing about a perfect day ... For all his insider knowledge and passion for music, Jackson is also at ease writing about the odd details of the everyday.
Destroy All Monsters taps into this fundamental aspect of the human experience, nonbelonging, illustrating how those on the fringe coalesce forming tribes just as difficult to crack and complex as the mainstream groups they are eschewed from ... Jackson paints in sepia tones, his words create a filmy, nicotine-stained haze giving rise to a discordant lifestyle born from the ability to alienate and repel external understanding ... Jackson artfully eliminates distance between action and the reader, hijacking with a propulsive style into real-time dilemmas of belonging, assimilation, acceptance, and attachment ... effectively reveals the dichotomy of loving and hating something simultaneously, a space where what was once embraced and slavishly followed, ultimately becomes reviled, a demon to be exorcised.
The carnage erupts on the opening pages and threatens to continue throughout. Yet Jackson keeps us wondering how the horror will go down. Once or twice the ugly business feels a tad familiar, but far more often the author delivers canny surprises ... Importantly, the violence isn’t political. The novel isn’t cautionary like The Handmaid’s Tale; rather, its rampages could be punk-rock. The killers weasel around security the same way anyone else would, and, if they survive the melee, they linger on the crime scene ... A mere gimmick in lesser hands, Jackson’s twice-told tales 'each absorb and expand the narrative' ... Questions concerning art hang over everything no matter which direction you’re reading ... Even the ecstatic promise of rock winds up another delusion, a monster that someone ought to destroy.