Kip, Leslie, and Kira are outliers—even in the metal scene they love. In arch-conservative Gulf Coast Florida in the late 1980s, just listening to metal can get you arrested, but for the three of them the risk is well worth it, because metal is what leads them to one another. Different as they are, Kip, Leslie, and Kira form a family of sorts that proves far safer, and more loving, than the families they come from. Together, they make the pilgrimage from Florida's swamp country to the fabled Sunset Strip in Hollywood. But in time, the delicate equilibrium they've found begins to crumble. Leslie moves home to live with his elderly parents; Kip struggles to find his footing in the sordid world of LA music journalism; and Kira, the most troubled of the three, finds herself drawn to ever darker and more extreme strains of metal. On a trip to northern Europe for her twenty-second birthday, in the middle of a show, she simply vanishes. Two years later, the truth about her disappearance reunites Kip with Leslie, who in order to bring Kira home alive must make greater sacrifices than they could ever have imagined.
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.