Once There Was a Way: What If The Beatles Stayed Together, by Bryce Zabel

beatlesI am a music fan. Especially “older” music. While my fellow high schoolers were fan zoning about Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and Culture Club (I mean, I liked those too), my favourite band was The Beach Boys. The same friend that went to Beach Boys concerts with me, also sat with me in her parents basement while we listened to (and sang along with) Beatles records.  I have been a fan of the Beatles for a long time.

When I came across this book that asks the question: what if The Beatles stayed together? I had to read it.

I quickly got sucked in to this story. It was so well written. The slant is that it’s written by a music magazine and it has that vibe. It’s like you are reading an extended Rolling Stone article. The attention to detail is amazing and the way the author weaves in truth and fiction is remarkable. There were times when I was like, wait…did that happen or did he make it up? And then Googled it. (It was a 50/50 split on made up vs. real.) I do appreciate the end chapter where the author clarifies which big plot points are real and not, and why he chose the paths he did.

The thing that I was the most curious about was how the author was going to deal with John Lennon and George Harrison’s deaths. I won’t spoil it for you, but I do think he did a good job of dealing with both situations.

There was a point in the book where I got a bit emotional, which I was surprised at. I can’t reveal what exactly it was, because I don’t want to include spoilers. I think that part of my reaction was melancholy over what could have been.

Whether I agree with all of the alternate history points that the author chose or not is beside the point. Part of the fun in reading the book (and I am assuming writing it) is to imagine all the cause and effect and (mostly) infinite possibilities that could exist. It’s like the butterfly effect – a small change in the early days, morph into these larger changes later.

If you are a Beatles fan or a music fan, I would highly recommend this book. It is engaging, interesting and thought provoking.

I rated this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review. (Thanks NetGalley!)

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