The Bottom Line: This quirky, one-of-a-kind thriller manages to be both funny and searing in its indictment of celebrity culture. Set in a world of unimaginably lascivious British entertainers, Hennerley’s world is darkly addictive one that you won’t soon forget.
While I Really, Really Want It does qualify as a thriller, it’s also a quirky and often hilarious novel told from alternating points of view. Writing in the first person, Hennerley first channels Janey Jax, an aging performer who makes it clear on page one that she’s jonesing for blood, and counting on the unlucky soul in her employ, Charlie, to get it for her.
Charlie: “Yeh, yeh,” replies Charlie, “there’s no stopping Janey.”
Andrew: “And how on earth does she stay looking so young, is it, erm, surgery?”
“Looking young, well…that’s kinda why I’m here…”
If you’re thinking this is another vampire novel, you’d be wrong. To reveal more about how Janey keeps up her good looks would be to giving away too much, but let’s just say that much of the book’s tension springs from Janey’s shocking beauty secret.
That storyline alone might have been enough to make for an irreverantly satisfying novel, but I Really, Really Want It gets much more layered, as we’re also introduced to an ensemble cast that includes Shelly (a starlet with a secret), Jack Brierly (husband/soccer star), and Johnny, who is Andrew’s boyfriend.
Until the novel’s midway point, I Really, Really Want It could have easily passed for a hilariously dark collaboration between Nicholson Baker and Augusten Burroughs. But once we start getting chapters from Johnny’s point of view, the book’s tone changes considerably. Here’s Johnny’s worldview: “There are lots of bad and stupid people in this line of business who occasionally need a short, sharp shock to remind them of the error of their ways.”
As Walter White famously said in Breaking Bad, Johnny is “the one who knocks.”
Those in search of a nice, neat ending will certainly not get one. If you’re okay with that, then you might just find the way Andrew manages to deal with all this madness well worth the ride.