Back in the 90s I was at the other end of the music spectrum and listening to Indie, Alternative and possibly Grunge; we kind of regarded ravers and their drug use with suspicion and just maybe a bit of snotty disdain (we got piss drunk instead, ha). So when I started this book I was a bit apprehensive as I still have little interest in reading about someone's drug experiences - I was pleasantly surprised, though. Yes, there is a lot of drug use, and yes, being high plays a big role, but I was
1. surprised how similar druggy party experiences are to boozy party experiences, and
2. impressed by the authors careful, non-judgy and simultaneously non-glorifying handling of the subject.
I guess you could call it "balanced", but I feel that doesn't quite capture the way the book works - drug use is an integral part of the novel, but the message, if you can even call it that, is neither that drugs are awesome and unproblematic nor that they're the devil's work and must be shunned at all costs. Tolerance, maybe. The novel is not a "novel about drugs", it's at heart a love story and also a love letter to the 90s music and rave scene, and the two combine to form an atmospheric, captivating story that's both cheerful and intense and actually packs quite an emotional punch. I got tearful at one point, which I'd never, ever have expected judging by the cover and blurb.
I enjoyed the smooth character development and relationship progression; the slow slide from the great life to "too much" was really well done, with little signs and incidents intruding and breaking up the happy obliviousness. I even recognized the feelings of sudden "what the hell am I doing"-clarity. The stages of love and building a relationship and of partying, music and drugs are intertwined and play off of each other - I seriously appreciated the careful strucuring of the book, but was also completely emotionally invested and sad when the book was over. Lovely side characters too, and Slinky Simon in particular had a great, profound scene.
Definitely recommended, will read again at some point.