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School's Out [Paperback]

Christophe Dufosse , Shaun Whiteside
1.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £7.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jan 2007

When a teacher is found dead, having apparently committed suicide, his friend Pierre Hoffman takes over class 4F and finds himself responsible for a group of strangely subdued, well-behaved and yet menacing pupils.

Assuming their behaviour to be a response to the trauma of their teacher's death, Pierre Hoffman at first takes it easy with the precocious class, refusing to embrace the hostility felt by other staff members towards the children. Over the weeks that follow, however, he receives a series of signals and warnings that cause him to question the motivations of his pupils and the circumstances of his colleague's suicide.

Refusing to believe that the situation can be any more sinister than his suspicious imagination, Hoffman applauds and supports class 4F's decision to organise a school trip to the Normandy coast. Only once the trip has begun, however, does Hoffman begin to understand the extent of their bizarre solidarity and their ultimate goal...

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099466724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099466727
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,548,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Dufosse's debut has garnered high praise in his native France and it is easy to see why. The narrative is fast-paced and compelling, the writing assured and witty" (Michael Arditti Daily Mail)

"The story hurtles towards a creepy climax with jet-black humour and style" (Kate Saunders The Times)

"The debut everyone is talking about... A brilliant first novel, that forcibly reminds one of Donna Tartt's A Secret History" (Elle)

"There is a vague air of menace throughout...Dufosse [is] a shrewd observer of eccentric behaviour" (Paul Bailey Guardian)

"Dufosse is roughly what you'd get if you crossed Houellebecq with Alan Warner. His writing is cool, sexy and sinister" (Esquire)

Book Description

A strikingly original, acidly funny and surreal French first novel, a cross between Michel Houellebecq, Alan Warner and Lord of the Flies. The stuff of which cults are made.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy and bleak 27 Feb 2007
By Trej
It's a remarkably smart story: ironic, self-deprecating, bleak and funny. The point of the book is not the plot per se, but rather the selfish, remote and alienated viewpoints of both the main character and his charges.

Yes, the book is filled with reflexive and amusingly supercillious French philosophy - sometimes it's just so silly you laugh out loud. At other times, one isn't quite so certain how frivolous the book is being: there are some disturbing descriptions and commentary in it, particularly related to adolescent alienation and loss. Dufosse is superb at describing the ambiguity of youth: a time when people are strong-willed and idealistic, but willing, too, to lose their own identity to further belief. And it's that confusion, that great philsophical muddle which make the book so complicated. Just how far should one be taken in? And just how possible is it for such terrible events to occur?

If you're looking for a book with a whizz-bang thriller plot, you'll be bitterly disappointed. But if you're looking for a very intriguing and somewhat strange read, you'll be more than satisfied. Fans of Houellebecq will probably love this book. Fans of thriller fiction and beach reading will be bored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic and sinister heart 25 Jun 2009
In a contemporary French school a young teacher jumps out of his classroom window and dies. Pierre, his replacement, finds that none of the other teachers are prepared to take over his class and, indeed, warn him to have nothing to do with them. Taking on 9F, he finds them strangely regimented and well-behaved, doing everything as a group rather than as a collection of individuals. And two of the pupils who try to break away, are brought menacingly back to the collective.

The cover blurb claims this book recalls Tart's The Secret History but, for me, it was far closer to The Midwich Cuckoos, with shades of Lord of the Flies and even The Turn of the Screw. Unfortunately, despite these literary allegiances, the novel fails to live up to its own premise. Rambling and discursive, it spends too long focusing on the life of Pierre when all the tension and menace of the book is imbued in the children of class 9F.

Ultimately this could have been a remarkable novel - ambitious, ambiguous, open-ended - but everything fascinating and menacing at its centre seemed to have got bogged down and also covered over by the rambling musings of the first person teacher narrator. So huge potential, but ultimately dissatisfying.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 24 Mar 2007
Life is too short! What a waste of good reading time. Boring. Bad translation. I only finished it as I hoped the end would make it all worth while....wrong!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One star? I'd give it less if I could... 6 April 2007
The novel starts with the apparent suicide of a young teacher who jumped from the window of his classroom. The class is taken over by Pierre Hoffman, despite warnings from an emotionally disturbed student who tells him that the class will 'get inside your loneliness.'

The novel is bleak, over descriptive and lacks focus. There is almost no plot. The characterisation is implausible and characters continually speak as if they are philosophers (even though most of them are 13 years old). Just as an example, Pierre talks to his brother-in-law about his sister;

'So when did she discover reality?'

'A year or two ago. It's got worse recently. What do you call reality?'

'A way of accepting things, letting your grievances invade your body, coming out of denial.'

Do people talk like this, late at night and on the phone, when they are concerned about their sister's wellbeing? I don't think so.

One to be avoided.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars don't read it 27 Mar 2007
This was one of the worst books I've read in recent times. It's getting one star because it's not possible to give less. Perhaps if it hadn't been promoted as a thriller it might have been better. It's really about the very uninteresting life of the narrator. It keeps going off on non-productive tangents. Deeply irritating.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A real let down. 20 Mar 2007
The cover synopsis lead me to believe that this was a dark and disturbing thriller, I often wondered if I was reading a different book.

I felt that the "strangely menacing pupils" were almost an afterthought and the story concentrated too much on the teachers' life which made it slow and at times rather boring. The last quarter of the book showed some promise, but then the end fizzled out to nothing.

It left too many unanswered questions and nothing was explained. Perhaps that was the whole point of it.

Perhaps I just didn't get it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polarised reviews 18 Mar 2007
This novel seems to polarise responses from readers. Despite the fact that it came highly acclaimed, I was not overwhelmed at all: none of the characters were empathetic or engaging; the plot dripped along without any real tension and the ending was a relief rather than a shock. If it was intended as a psychological thriller, it didn't succeed. For a powerful analysis of the negative power of groups, look no further than Lord of the Flies.
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2.0 out of 5 stars School's Out by Christophe Dufosse 4 April 2013
By Kate
As an ex-teacher I try to avoid books about schools but I read this for a book group. I was almost relieved when I realised it was set in France as it was too unconvincing to be set in UK. The translation would have been better if it had retained references to the French educational system instead of trying to anglicise them. Although some of the prose was witty and amusing, on the whole I felt it rambled on and on, with too much emphasis on Hoffman rather than on the pupils in his class. Hoffman as a character was totally boring and unlikeable. His apparent lack of interest in his pupils or teaching didn't make me warm to him either. The children were equally unattractive. All in all I thought it was a very bleak read with a predictable ending and I couldn't recommend it to anyone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak conclusion
Like the others I bought this book expecting a tense thriller but it did not live up to expectations at all. Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2009 by F. Redmond
1.0 out of 5 stars Over hyped!
I struggled to get through too, determined that I must have missed something, given to cover blurb and the fact it won a prize. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2007 by L. Lefevre
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
I had to force myself to finish this book, because reading has been incredibly boring. The amount of details, that sometimes are interesting, is useless and slows down the reading. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2007 by titta
1.0 out of 5 stars School's Out - A Review
I agree with all comments left by reviewers who awarded just the one star for this book, especially the one regretting there being no minus stars available. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2007 by Mrs. T. Woodin
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
I wish I could give it minus stars. This book sounded so promising but disappointed hugely. It was long and tedious and didnt seem to have apoint to it. Read more
Published on 3 July 2007 by Tracy Young
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I bought this book after seeing it in a bookshop and being captivated by the alluring cover and teasing lines about a tense thriller, with a teacher tormented by his students. Read more
Published on 6 May 2007 by MadamJMo
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and pointless
Like other reviewers, I bought this book because of the complimentary comments adorning the front and back covers. Read more
Published on 6 April 2007 by M. G. Gilbert
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