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Lord of the Flies is a classic piece of literary history documenting the rapid descent of a group of English schoolboys into chaos after being stranded on a tropical island.

Fyre Festival was a disaster of a different sort, with many promises being made to the would-be attendees about an island music festival that would never actually happen.

Goldy Moldavsky’s new YA novel, Lord of the Fly Fest is a beautiful and terrible blend of these two, otherwise unrelated things. Our protagonist, Rafi, is a young and (hopefully) upcoming podcast host with a show called “Musical Mysteries.” She’s staked the success of her show’s second season on snagging an interview with River Stone, the hottest musical act to ever come out of Australia, and also a bad murderer, maybe. His former girlfriend, Tracy, disappeared, and he was the last person to have seen her. So Rafi spends every last dollar she has to be at Fly Fest, an upcoming music festival that everybody who’s anybody on the internet has been promoting. Arrival on the island quickly proves that everything involved with the preparation for the event has gone wrong. There’s no staff to welcome the guests, few tents for shelter, and nothing but an abandoned shipping container full of inedible “cheese” sandwiches for food. Worst of all? None of the musicians who were slated to appear have shown up. None, that is, except for River Stone.

So now, Rafi is faced with a quandary. Does she band resources together to contact the outside world and summon rescue? Or does she let things drag out in the hope of getting that exclusive interview with River, getting the big celebrity shot her podcast needs to get the big endorsement deals (and, y’know, maybe some justice for River’s dead [again, maybe] girlfriend, Tracy). She’s got to navigate an island full of upset social media influencers and makeup gurus to make her plan work, one way or another. But what if getting River out on an island without contact with the mainland is exactly what he needs to kill again? What really lies beneath the surface of Fly Fest?

Lord of the Fly Fest is brilliant, combining the satirical takes of Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens (I’m looking at you, fictional influencer/musician Hella Badid, and bland interchangeable Paul and Ryan) with the atmospheric tension of Agatha Christie. My utmost thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan for an eARC in exchange for a fair review.

“For MJ”

We said our farewells to you
Over the weekend
Listened to elegant words
About you
And by you
The subtle jazz tones of a saxophone
Blown across the mountainside
Where we gathered
Wind rustling your favorite
Trees while a caterpillar
Slowly made the long journey
Past my feet
And a white butterfly
Caught the sun
Just right on its wings
And a honey bee
Sought some of the sweetness
Lost in your passing
Nothing to mar the blue
Sky above but our
Fading tears

Neil Peart died this week, and so I grieve.

I had the tremendous privilege of seeing him perform live on two occasions (August 2nd, 2013, and July 11th, 2015). I can’t pinpoint the moment in my life when Rush became my favorite band, but I know that there was always something in the lyrics, frequently penned by Peart, that spoke to me. I remember being absolutely blown away when I found out that the band was comprised of only three people and still capable of such a sound.

He was, and always will be, a legendary drummer and lyricist. I am grateful for his music and his books. I send my most sincere condolences to his family and friends, as well as to my fellow fans.

Rest in peace, Neil. Thank you.

“A Farewell To Kings”

When they turn the pages of history
When these days have passed long ago
Will they read of us with sadness
For the seeds that we let grow?
We turned our gaze
From the castles in the distance
Eyes cast down
On the path of least resistance

Cities full of hatred, fear and lies
Withered hearts and cruel, tormented eyes
Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise
Beating down the multitude and
Scoffing at the wise

The hypocrites are slandering
The sacred Halls of Truth
Ancient nobles showering
Their bitterness on youth
Can’t we find the minds that made us strong?
Can’t we learn to feel what’s right
And what’s wrong?
What’s wrong?

Cities full of hatred, fear and lies
Withered hearts and cruel, tormented eyes
Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise
Beating down the multitude and
Scoffing at the wise
Can’t we raise our eyes and make a start?
Can’t we find the minds to lead us
Closer to the heart?

On Friday night I got to see my first ever live RUSH concert. My mind is blown. From the opening notes of Subdivisions to the ominous closing words of 2112 Part VII: The Grand Finale, the concert rocked. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart may be aging, but they certainly don’t act any older. Alex can still play guitar like no one else, with beautifully melodic solos and an intense energy that is only matched and amplified by Neil’s focused drumming (I swear he doesn’t actually look at the drum kit and just KNOWS where each piece is) and Geddy’s bass, vocals, and skipping around the stage. There really is nothing else like it.

A complete setlist from their Denver show can be found here. Note that the string ensemble they had backing them during the Clockwork Angels tracks also played during YYZ. That’s right. YYZ. Live. WITH A STRING ENSEMBLE. I need to go lie down now.