Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls

3

Starter for Ten

(Read 2013)

This is a book by the same author who wrote One Day (an excellent book whose review can be found here) and this was a birthday gift by someone who was sure I would like it, having never seen the film.

This is a book I put off for a while, and for good reason. The book itself wasn’t bad and enjoyed the general plot and setting. Nicholls has this talent which is used to good effect of writing books which exist in a very realistic setting and which are simultaneously mundane and interesting.

The film is a Rom-Com-esque affair, and the book is the same. Our main character is infinitely obsessed with his own self-appearance and finding a relationship with exactly the person he wants to be with while forgetting and ignoring more important aspects of his life. It’s a fairly typical coming of age story and the plot moves along nicely without plodding overly-much.

There’s very little I can say on the subject of the plot (beyond a typical synopsis) that can’t be said. It’s your average novel of a typical student and the things he gets up to in that and although it isn’t boring, it is infinitely mundane. The two things worth mentioning are the romance and the central event.

The latter is easier, so I’ll start there. The book is all about University Challenge- a British TV series which pits the teams of British Universities against one another in a competition of general knowledge, which is either very interesting and informative or dull and inane depending on which side of the fence you’re on. It’s essentially a daytime television so which is but more relevant. But the plot of the book is our protagonist wanting to be on this team and do well. He’s an intelligent lad and the entire thing is relevant mostly as a plot device, but in many ways I also felt it was a reflection of our MC himself because he obviously thought and ability to remember things meant he was intelligent and he concentrated on knowing facts. Maybe I’m just fundamentally different, but this irked me as a student myself because my degree (Maths) teaches that understanding supersedes just knowing facts because it is  way of thinking which they want to teach you and if all you do is memorise, then what have you learnt that you’ll actually remember? I find the whole things fairly bizarre, but then I have a poor memory for general knowledge. Maybe because I think of it as a little irrelevant.

The romance was...cringe-worthy. I won’t say too much on this because it reveals too much, but it was predictable and unsatisfying. It reminded me of One Day in that respect because Nicholls give you a (painfully realistic) non-perfect ending. It is a non-issue, but it makes the book weird and you can’t help but feel for the poor guy in his endeavours.

Not a bad book, but certainly not amazing. I think if you’re looking for an easy read over a period of time where you don’t have the hours to dedicate to reading, it’s easy going and not hard to follow. The downside of this is that I found it sometimes uninspiring thing to sit and read.


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