Described by its author as "an adults-only teenage psychodrama set in the music industry", 'Cherry Bomb' is unlike any novel I've ever read. Its narrator is Nina Dall, who alongside her cousin Rose performs in the Parramatta-born pop-punk band The Dolls. The story charts their rise from small Sydney clubs to international success, with plenty of interesting detours and informed asides. Author Jenny Valentish is a music journalist of many years' standing, and a former editor of mine at Triple J Magazine; her knowledge of the personalities and egos drawn to the thought of making a career out of making music is on full display here.
Nina Dall is a narcissist and an alcoholic; a back-cover blurb by You Am I frontman Tim Rogers accurately calls her "as singular and mercurial a character as I've ever been charmed and terrified to meet". While Nina's narrative voice occasionally grates due to her sheer unwillingness to understand those around her, this is more a case of fine character delivery than any fault on Valentish's part. The ending leaves the door open to the possibility of a sequel and I'd certainly read that, too, as the rock-and-roll world the author has created here is so vivid you can practically hear the power chords roaring from the pages.