Title: The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary
Author Name: Geonn Cannon
Publication Date & Length: March 13, 2013 – 439 pgs
Karen Everett isn’t looking to join a band the day she loses her notebook of poetry. She plays the cello and is unsure about what she wants in life, but she’s pretty sure it doesn’t involve being a professional musician. But a crush on the band’s beautiful lead singer Lana Kent, along with the desire to have her poetry shared with a larger audience, leads her to throw caution to the wind and play an audition that leads to her being invited to join the band at gigs. After a spur of the moment decision lands them a spot on national television, Karen and the band find themselves riding an unexpected wave of popularity. Soon they’re touring the country, recording albums, making music videos, and trying to find time to have a personal life amid all the craziness. Aware that their surge in popularity is due to a fortuitous comradiationcanarybination of popular trends and knowing they only have a few good years before their celebrity begins to wane, the ladies of Radiation Canary strive to make the most of their time in the spotlight before the public moves on. With one eye on the inevitable end of their fame even as their popularity hits its peak, the band learns that it’s not how high you fly, it’s how gracefully you fall.
The first–and best–thing about the story is, of course, the characters. They are marvelous. I’m used to reading about worlds populated by men in which women are peripheral or accessories, especially when the story is about the entertainment industry. This is a complete reversal–most of the men are relatively unimportant side characters. Instead, we’re treated to the rich lives of strong, competent, talented women. I left the story feeling like I’d made new friends.
There were plenty of terrific little surprises sprinkled throughout, including a few random 1980s/1990s pop culture references subtle enough to not distract but noticeable to anyone who recognized them. It made for a lot of fun as I spotted them.
There were a fair number of sex scenes, some detailed and some fade-to-black. I thought it was a perfect balance, especially since it’s not technically a romance. It was fantastic reading about women relating to one another in very real ways. And of course, there were plenty of nicely steamy moments to keep me happy.
There were only a few minor things to mention, and it’s those that bring my rating down by half a star. First, it was a little hard to get into after the first few chapters. The pacing was just a bit slow–not at the beginning but from about a quarter of the way in until about halfway. Second, it never seemed like there was much real conflict or tension. Some, yes, but it resolved fairly easily. I especially kept waiting for the women’s pasts to catch up with them, for someone to broadcast their misdeeds everywhere and for them to have to clean those messes up.
Outside of that, the writing is brilliant, the characters fantastic, and the story absorbing. There’s no doubt at all that I’ll be reading just about anything Cannon writes in the future.
I give it 4.5 stars.
Geonn Cannon was born in a barn and raised to know better than that. He was born and raised in Oklahoma where he’s been enslaved by a series of cats, dogs, two birds and one unexpected turtle. He’s spent his entire life creating stories but only became serious about it when he realized it was a talent that could impress girls. Learning to write well was easier than learning to juggle, so a career was underway. His high school years were spent writing stories among a small group of friends and reading whatever books he could get his hands on.
Geonn was inspired to create the fictional Squire’s Isle after a 2004 trip to San Juan Island in Washington State. His first novel set on the island, On the Air, was written almost as a side project to another story he wanted to tell. Reception to the story was so strong that the original story was put on the back burner to deal with the world created in On the Air. His second novel set in the same universe, Gemini, was also very well received and went on to win the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Best Novel, Dramatic/General Fiction. Geonn was the first male author to receive the honor.
While some of his novels haven’t focused as heavily on Squire’s Isle, the vast majority of Geonn’s works take place in the same universe and have connections back to the island and its cast of characters (the exception being the Riley Parra series). In addition to writing more novels based on the inhabitants of Squire’s Isle, Geonn hopes to one day move to the real-life equivalent to inspire further stories.