The first thing you feel is its weight in your hands, which screams, this is an important book. First Step 2 Forever is a hardcover, multi-colored monstrosity that clocks in at 240 pages... half of which feature full-page pictures of the 16-year-old Bieber. This should please the majority of his pint-sized fans, who are looking for nothing more than a visual companion to Bieber's equally sugar-coated albums.
Although the autobiographical Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story (HarperCollins, 2010) "isn't a memoir" according to Bieber himself, it is billed as "the story of how my world changed so much, so fast." Sounds like a memoir to me.
If you're looking for a behind-the-scenes rock-n-roll biography, pick up Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries. If you want the world's most narcissistic high school yearbook, however, First Step 2 Forever is your new bicycle.
There's no way to accurately convey the inherent absurdity in reading a memoir written by someone who is only 16 years old. I'm reminded of this Friedrich Nietzsche quote: "Gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Early on, Bieber tells us the secret to his fame: "the success I've achieved comes to me from God." First Step 2 Forever is filled with corny lines like this that do little more than to reaffirm my belief in a secular universe.
Bieber spends an inordinate amount of time talking about girls. As he writes in big letters that fill an entire page: "I really like... girls... girls... girls... girls... girls... girls... girls..."
But don't peg him as a one-trick pony: "There are lots of things I really like besides girls. Like pizza.... And CHUCK NORRIS." And boy does he ever love Chuck Norris, whose name appears in all caps every time he's mentioned. Which is quite often, much to the chagrin of this reviewer.
He also likes "pranking," which, if the pictures are to be believed, consists of shooting his friends and bandmates with a giant super-soaker water gun. No, I don't get it either. One of those, "You had to be there" things. Or maybe you can be there, when Bieber takes over hosting duties on MTV's Punk'd for Ashton Kutcher.
Bieber even takes a few pages to debunk some rumors that have apparently been swirling online about him:
- Im not dead. I had to check on this one... but it turns out Im alive
- Im not Peter Pan... Im growing up and my voice will change...
- I am not 10 feet tall and I dont shoot fire balls from my ass... that was BraveHeart
- No CHUCK NORRIS is not my real father... although he did birth to Hercules
Those aren't my grammatical or spelling errors, by the way. The book simply reproduces many of Bieber's Tweets without fixing them for grammar or spelling. Will his fans really care?
This isn't to say that the book is all bad. In a few places, Bieber slows down the breakneck pace of his young life to wax poetic on the state of the North American family circa 2010. "If you feel like a freak because you don't have a normal family, I've got news for you: pretty much nobody does," he writes in one moving chapter about his own family.
In one sentence, he says pretty much what took Jonathan Franzen 576 pages to say in The Corrections -- more or less. Could First Step 2 Forever be the next Oprah Book Club pick?
The reviewer, reading Bieber's book under his cloak.
Follow Andrew Shaffer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/andrewtshaffer