Author: Joe Dunthorne
Date Finished: 26/06/12
Re-Read? : First time read
Challenges? : No
Overall: 3/5 – just average
Well, you can’t get much further away from Dickens than this (my previous book was Great Expectations). This is another British book about a boy with problems. It is set in Swansea, Wales and takes the form of Oliver Tate’s diary, a 15 year old only child dealing with the usual problems of teenage boyhood: girls, school and parents.
Firstly, the plot is very average. Certainly nothing special and at some times completely ridiculous, although having said that it was very readable and I wasn’t totally disinterested. I cannot abide certain male authors who think the only way to be funny/witty is to put in swear words and sexual awkwardness. These things do not (usually) make me laugh. For another book (like I though with The Understudy) the blurb completely overrates the book and claims it to be a lot funnier than it really is.
The characters a very very average too. To be fair, Dunthorne has obviously tried to make them unique and interesting, but by the very nature of the story – to be something we relate to our own adolescence – the characters are quite normal. There are nice touches, like Oliver’s obsession with long words (hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliomania) and Jordana’s pyromania, but I know that I will forget all of the other characters within a week.
The prose was reasonable. A very wide range of vocabulary (due to Oliver’s obsession) was good but again I was fuming – the use of ‘I was sat’ again in a printed book!! IT IS INCORRECT! I don’t care if it is an ‘accepted inaccuracy’ – it is still inaccurate and so easy to correct. As you can tell, it is one of my pet peeves.
I liked the way Dunthorne used some Welsh terms for things during the book – any language makes me happy; I’m not fussy.
All in all, this book was hard pushed to reach a three and I am still unsure whether I should have given a two. Maybe the use of lots of long words and a bit of languages just swung it! If you’re after a laugh then probably you should read something else…likewise if you are a stickler for correct grammar…