The Punk Ethic

The Punk Ethic by Tim Decker (Received an advanced copy through NetGalley)

When musician/slacker Martin Henry is handed back his English paper on landmines his teacher doesn’t laugh at the topic. He doesn’t judge the grade or debate the amount research that went into Martin’s paper. He simply asks Martin a questions: What are you going to do about it?

Do about what? Landmines? How can Martin Henry, who has absolutely no ambition do anything about this problem, do something to solve it?  Besides, if he were to do something it will cost more than he could afford. He can barely afford a ten dollar gift for his friend never mind the three hundred dollars it will take to adopt and deactivate one landmine.

But the more Martin thinks about landmines, that nagging questions keeps coming to mind. What can he do? Martin may not have a lot, but he has talent. And he knows people who are semi-talented.

Martin decides to take a chance, to do the one thing he knows he can do to raise three hundred dollars. He convinces the owner of The Church, his small town’s most popular concert venue to donate the venue in the hopes of putting on a charity concert.

With an odd array of acts ranging from a God-loving ska bank to a hip-hop cellist, will Martin be able to raise the three hundred dollars he needs? Will he be able to adopt a landmine and possibly save one persons life?

The Punk Ethic written by Tim Decker is an ambitious book that is based upon a truly one of a kind subject – the landmine – or rather the disarming of one landmine.

Decker’s writing style is sharp and concise. It’s in your face, yet there’s a lyrically smooth quality to it. Just like his characters don’t beat around the bush, either does Decker. And there’s something punk rock about that.

But Decker’s writing is not enough to save this book. It seemed that The Punk Ethic got started just as the book was wrapping up. Clocking in at only one hundred and eighty-eight pages, the book doesn’t drag. In fact it’s quite opposite. However Decker introduces several important issues – other than landmines within the pages but doesn’t develop them. Issues like complex relationships, sexual abuse, and mental stability that deserve more attention than they actually get. They are brought up, but never really discussed or rectified, making these issues seem almost pointless since they don’t add to the over story line.

As a music lover I wanted to love this book, or at least like it a lot more than I actually did. But there were several prominent factors that stood in the way of really enjoying it. Main character Martin is not a likable character. His attitude is a far cry from punk rock, it’s down right miserable. His sudden charitable interest isn’t believable. And to make matters worse, he seemed one note and underdeveloped, as do all the characters that grace the pages.

Readers will appreciate that The Punk Ethic isn’t bogged down by musical jargon. Even though a big part of the plot centers around music and the art of creating it, it does not get caught up in the technical side of chords and frets. But honestly, there isn’t much to get caught up in to begin with.

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