The Song Is You: A Novel

The Song Is You: A Novel - Arthur Phillips Beautiful cover, brilliant prologue, interesting premise, terrible execution. That pretty much sums up my review of "The Song Is You" by Arthur Phillips. Don't get me wrong, I love beautiful lines of prose (and Arthur Phillips can write very well - my hat tips to him) and I love music-themed books, but this was one of the examples of how not to use music within a story. The references to Julian Donahue's Ipod in this story were too much and more telling than they were showing in natural veins. As a result, the songs and the way they play out read very clunky and difficult to digest in spurts without really allowing the reader to digest the character personalities and situations naturally.One thing to keep in mind, this book is chock full of characters with very big flaws, and appropriate since it is tabbed as a "dark comedy". Even for that particular label, it's not well matched. It's not a particularly strong romance either, particularly since the scheme of events plays out the way they do to the very end.To summarize, the story revolves around the growing, yet distant relationship of the middle aged artist Julian Donahue and the flaming red-haired Irish rock singer Cait O'Dwyer. The two are an unlikely pair - Julian's a man who lacks passion in his career and has a dysfunctional relationship with his wife over a set of tragic events. Cait is a singer on the rise who has rather unstable relationships of her own. Julian and Cait form a relationship from a distance starting with one evening at a local pub when Julian leaves her a series of messages on illustrated coasters.I was concerned because Julian's pursuit of this relationship borders on stalkerish, as does Cait's relations with him as well, and for a developing relationship, I didn't like that aspect. I also didn't like how Julian's playlist isn't very clear cut (there's too many songs and they tend to get lost in the fray) and tends to be more "noise" than genuine ties to the scenes that Phillips illustrates. Overall, it had the potential to be a better novel than what it was, I think. There were parts of the prose I did like and that flowed quite naturally (like the prologue), while others seemed to overshoot the perspective. In addition, as much as I followed the characters throughout, I didn't care for them. It was hard to truly identify with Julian despite the problems in his life, and Cait was far too at odds for me to really like (though there were points where I thought I could like her). Very disappointing despite an interesting theme and plot tag.Overall score: 1.5/5