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Earworm: reviews

'Earworm' is a novel about the music industry that reveals what happens when somebody discovers the perfect song. Here is a selection of reviews from when the book was first published under the title 'University of Death'.

Net, Blogs and Rock'n'Roll cover

"McManus keeps the action moving at a good crack, and the ideas trip out lightly in snappy dialogue. All round, the novel is a great genetic splicing of ideas and action, culminating in an incendiary showdown almost worthy of a Bond movie. Along the way it slips in telling observations about taste and commerce, culture and technology, creativity and consumption."

- David Jennings' blog for his book Net, Blogs and Rock'n'Roll (March 2010)

Record Collector issue 350 cover

"Raising a number of surprisingly sophisticated issues, this book is enjoyably cynical about the seemingly cold-hearted and impenetrable nature of the record industry and peppered with a number of highly comical cameos from the cream of rock'n'roll, which ensures that it never feels like heavy going."

- Lewis Heritage, books reviewer, Record Collector magazine issue 350 (June 2008)

Metal Hammer September 2008 cover

"A fun novel about the problems faced by musicians in making their mark on a music industry thatís falling apart. A bitter satire that works its way up to a memorable finale."

- Metal Hammer magazine (September 2008)

MusicTech November 2008 cover

"The novel satirises the music industry and the clichéd types that populate it, the lead character an affable fellow who you can't help but like - his meditations at his monitor screen, desperately trying to sort ideas, will be familiar to most of us who create music either for a living or for love. Amusing and well written."

- MusicTech (November 2008)

Colin Vearncombe

I cried 'til I laughed. There are some great ideas in here... and a few I hope the industry never hears about!

- Colin Vearncombe aka Black, multi-million selling songwriter of 'Wonderful Life' among others and independent record label manager.

Jesus Jones

University of Death is the most enjoyable, imaginative and perceptive insight into the plight and possible future of the music industry, a novel that illuminates as well as entertains. The best thing about it is its insight into how the music industry works, why it is dying and where it may very well be going.

I particularly enjoyed the way it shows how technology is abused by marketers to manipulate our subconscious. This rang true because some of the technology used in the story already exists and has been used in similar, albeit not quite as sinister (yet?), ways.

University of Death has a love-hate relationship with the music business, being cynical and reverential at the same time. The portrayal of the industry is both accurate and funny - it's hard not to identify with many of the characters in there.

The twist at the end fooled me but fitted in perfectly with the themes of the book. When I finished reading, the story made me feel optimistic, that there was an exciting new beginning for the music business.

University of Death is well worth buying if you like pop music itself or if you're interested in the machinations of the music industry.

- Mike Edwards , best known as the singer, songwriter and guitarist in Jesus Jones, whose Top 40 hits include 'Real Real Real', 'International Bright Young Thing' and 'Right Here, Right Now'. Mike has worked extensively as a producer, remixer and songwriter, both for major label acts and for independent artists.

book cover: Drive to Nowhere

I thoroughly enjoyed Sean McManus's clever take on the state of the bland, manufactured, brand-saturated music industry we live in today -- and the measures companies will go to in their relentless bid to get you hooked to the latest catchy tunes.

Mixing surrealist scenes, retro references, 'guerilla' campaigning and the internet, University of Death (the name of the main band in the novel) is a must for true music lovers. I won't give too much away, but read the first couple of chapters and you'll get a good feel for the novel.

A word of warning: there are a lot of groan-worthy puns in this book (a lot!) but I forgive the author for them!

- Kim Gilmour, author and self-publisher of teenage thriller 'Drive to Nowhere'

Photo: John Hartnup

'University of Death' is easy to read, funny, thought provoking, and contains realistic, well fleshed out characters.

It presses many of my personal buttons -- music, computer technology, and the way Internet culture impinges on real life. I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who shares any of those buttons.

The puns -- they're a big part of the fun.

- John Hartnup, blogger

A cracking read: I don't read a great deal of fiction these days but this book -- mixing the U.K. music scene, dingy London suburbs, and old computer games in a new conspiracy theory -- was just too good to miss.

- Anonymous reader, Lulu.com

Discover Earworm

Find out more about my novel Earworm here, and order your copy from Amazon using these links.

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