The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was one of my extra BOTM picks. I was drawn to the idea of an oral history account of an Afro-punk rock n’roll duo from the 1970s. I found myself wondering if it would be anything like Daisy Jones and the Six which I loved. While there are similarities in the way the stories are written, the topics of discussion are completely different, and equally kept me invested.
Opal and Nev were a dynamic music duo who rose to fame in the 1970s. Their partnership spilt after a tragic incident at a concert in 1973. Neither artist has spoken to the other since the spilt and now a reunion concert has been planned. Enter S. Sunny Shelton a music editor at a music magazine and who decides to interview the duo and anyone connected with them prior to the reunion concert. Through this interview, all of the secrets and the tensions within the duo are revealed for the world to see, and for the world to judge.
Opal and Nev are from two completely different backgrounds. They have different backgrounds, cultures, races, personalities, and behaviors. They have different ideas of what their image should be right from the beginning. Ultimately, the producers usually side with Nev and choose to shut Opal down or keep her in her place. I really enjoyed the structure of the set up of their backgrounds and how authentic they felt.
The set up of their backgrounds also provided the perfect set up for The Final Revival of Opal and Nev to create a powerful story about racism and sexism. The tragic event in 1973 has very deep racial undertones and it is set up by everything that has happened previously in the story. The incident also impacts everything following and the fragile relationships between the characters. It is an intricate look at social injustices which are still so pervasive in our lives. I personally really enjoyed the social commentary and the fact that much of it was coming from a strong and independent character such as Opal. Opal didn’t need Nev to survive and the events that occur are proof of this.
There is also an underlying tone of the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll that was in the background of this era of music. The use of drugs and alcohol impacts the characters abilities to function and to communicate. Thus creating a unique tension between them. This tension is obviously still present as they are setting up for the reunion concert. I found myself wondering if Opal and Nev would actually be able to pull it off without killing each other first. THAT is how real the tension felt to me.
All The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a bumpy right which kept me invested from beginning to end. I enjoyed the social commentary on race, sex, and justice from that era as well as present day. I also enjoyed S. Sunny Shelton’s role in the story and her connection to the events of both past and present. I also liked her editor notes- made me feel like I was reading a true biographical document. All in all, this was such a unique and compelling debut novel from author Dawnie Watson. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
Rating: 4 Stars