Review: Code: Blue (Atrous #2) by N. R. Walker

Rating: 3.5🌈

Code: Blue is the sequel to N.R. Walker’s first book about a band in its last stages of its life. Code: Red was it’s last tour and the romance between its singer Maddox and his manager Roscoe.

Code:Blue , the last album, signals the turmoil that’s ongoing between the band’s label, the band members and the unhealthy physical and mental health conditions they now find themselves in after years of constant touring and stress.

Jeremy, the other band member that’s been a well defined character in Code: Red, gets his story and romance now. Jeremy is physically breaking down under a decade’s worth of abusing his body and not listening to doctors instructions. He’s a diabetic and his lack or inability to stay on target to the nutritional structure he needs to stay healthy has finally taken its toll. He’s a mess.

And no one knows the full extent of how bad it’s gotten.

Jeremy is a wonderful character. He’s well developed, and his personality as well as his diabetes is worked into this story extremely well. We get to know him, his trust issues, and his confusion over his sexuality.

We “see” him through the loving eyes of his security manager/guard, Steve Frost. The story is told from Steve’s perspective. A issue I talk about below.

Steve is another terrific character. Older , with a painful history, that tbh, didn’t seem realistic to need to be hidden given its the music industry. He’s protection/security. That element seemed a bit contrived. I liked many aspects of Steve’s personality but there’s also others that fell short given how long he’s been in the business.

When the danger to Jeremy becomes clear, Steve does up Jeremy’s security system. But then the couple , together and separately, proceeded to take chances , that I can’t see any professional security manager or team doing. Even with the emotional involvement.

You know the cameras, drones, media are looking at you everywhere… yet they do things that make you smack your head.

So yes, I liked perhaps loved and got behind this couple’s romance. But it took an occasional suspension of belief in the professionalism here.

I had to wonder why I was having issues with both stories. I honestly like Code: Blue better then the first book.

And I think there’s several answers.

Sexual Identity: Let me tackle the sexuality aspect first. Why was the only choice Jeremy has when he’s so confused about why he’s now suddenly attracted to Steve is you are either straight or now you’re bisexual. What happened to being pansexual or omnisexual? Both made more sense here, but it’s as though they didn’t exist on the sexual spectrum. That bothers me.

The Rock/Band/Theme:

This element needs several sections to deal with. First because both novels could be standalone stories, without any attempt to attach them to a band theme.

It’s that whole band theme is a one dimensional layer that’s just a element in name only, except for the songs written at the end of each story.

Why?

First, the books are about the band and it’s musicians/rockstars. But both are told ,not from the perspective of any of them but from someone who, however close, is not a musician and not a band member. For me, that’s a odd choice to begin with. That loss of an intimate viewpoint from a heart of a story is never made up for.

These voices stay missing in other ways too.

You have five members. The author makes much of the band’s symbol and the fact that they are brothers that can’t be broken apart.

The two books? Atrous the band? Nonexistent except that we see their label, managers, fans, and talking about the tours, the promotional lineups. Them actually on stage? Nopes.

Where’s the band? Where’s the on stage synergy ? That electric, everything is jamming, loud, louder, the crowds out of its mind, sweating, rocking, mind blowing synergistic feeling that rock bands truly exhibit only out on the stage? I know writers who know how to pull that into their narrative when writing about musicians and bands.

The band members. Except for occasional appearances, the only defined members are Maddox and Jeremy. The other three? One dimensional characters, basically character sketches.

We get the band as it’s ending. The last tour…we don’t actually get the tour. Just some written songs at the end. Plus they tell us it’s the last tour.

Code: Blue, the definition and reason for that name comes much like the first novel’s did, at the end of the story. It signaled the last album.

Ok . But we don’t get the guys putting together the album, the emotions, or anything at all of what it felt like to put a last album together. So why a band theme at all? It’s really missing in both books if you think about it.

These guys could be any celebrities and their manager/ security guard. Doesn’t change a thing.

Just seems like a half hearted effort.

Romances are fine. The main characters are nice, sweet, I especially liked the dog, but there’s not much foundation.

That’s not like Walker .

Read it for the romance and if you’re a fan of this author.

Atrous series:

✓ Code: Red #1

✓ Code: Blue #2

https://www.goodreads.com › showCode Blue (Atrous, #2) by N.R. Walker – Goodreads

Synopsis:

Steve Frost had dreams of wearing the national championship belt in mixed martial arts, maybe even going pro, but instead, finds himself working as a security guard for the rich and famous in LA.

Quickly earning a reputation for his blunt and precise people management skills, he lands a position on the security team for an up-and-coming boyband, Atrous. Years later, he’s head of security. He knows these boys, and with countless tours, flights, car trips, public events, concerts, he’s closer to one band member in particular.

Jeremy’s been a pillar for Atrous since day one, but even more so these last few months. Now the face of the band more than ever, he’s also got himself the attention of a delusional stalker-fan.

When the fame and stress become too much, when Jeremy’s health takes a hit, Steve becomes Jeremy’s lifeline. But as Jeremy knows already, and as Steve is about to learn, not even the brightest star can shine forever.

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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