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Submarine [Hardcover]

Joe Dunthorne
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Feb 2008
Hello. I'm Oliver Tate, the protagonist. I am likely to use words like protagonist and, moments later, words like twonk. My ambitions are as follows: 1) To find out why my father sometimes stays in bed for days at a time 2) To find out why my mother's getting surfing lessons – and probably more – from a hippy-looking twonk 3) To lose my virginity before it becomes legal – in just over a year I am monitoring my parent's intimacy via the dimmer switch in their bedroom. My parents have not had sex in two months which, my research suggests, points toward impending marital breakdown. There are other, lesser characters in the book: Jordana, who is my love interest, despite her eczema. Zoe, whose only real schoolfriend is a dinner lady. I feel sorry for Zoe which, in turn, makes me feel better about my own life. Then there's my friend Chips, an outstanding bully. He made our Religious Education teacher cry. This book might not change my life. But there is no telling how you will react.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton; First Edition edition (7 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241143969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241143964
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 686,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"[Submarine] has a poignant undertow, along with [a] wealth of excruciatingly funny incidents and cracking gags...a richly amusing tale of mock GCSEs, sex, death and challenging vocabulary" -- Time Out

"Joe Dunthorne's cheerfully peculiar 15-year old narrator is a worthy successor to Adrian Mole...Funny, in a deadpan way. This feels like an authentic portrait of someone floundering around in an attempt to discover his own identity as he grows up" -- The Guardian

"Oliver's anxieties are so well observed as to make you wince...Dunthorne commands wordplay like a mature poet and imagines foreplay like a teenage boy" -- Financial Times

"This first novel by a young Welsh poet is the sharpest, funniest, rudest account of a periodically troubled teenager's coming-of-age since The Catcher in the Rye... This brilliant novel is laugh-out-loud enjoyable" -- The Independent

"This is a brilliant first novel, by a young man of ferocious comic talent -- Oliver is the finest teenage narrator since Adrian Mole"
-- The Times


'Brilliant...The sharpest, funniest, rudest account of a periodically troubled teenager's coming-of-age since The Catcher in the Rye' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
It is Sunday morning. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Submarine 3 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had really high hopes for this book, as it is fairly critically acclaimed. However I found myself rather disappointed. I found it very difficult to follow the timeline of this book; if it was not for Oliver, the narrator, stating his age at certain times I would not considered this novel spanning out over 2 years. There are some lovely and funny anecdotes but I was lost in the writers babbling.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It may have been because I was reading this alongside the headspinning, quantum theory-heavy "The End Of Mr Y' by Scarlett Thomas, that I found this a bit of a slight, frothy, inconsequential read at first. On reflection, however, there are many brilliantly observed set-pieces that capture the excruciating nature of adolescence and the literal, one-track pubescent mind of its precocious narrator, Oliver, perfectly. It is set in 1997-8, possibly no accident, as this arguably represents the point at which the Internet went truly mass-market: there followed a generation for whom sexuality suddenly became "learnt" via the readily available, highly fantastical imagery of online porn. While this has arguably made today's youth less repressed than their predecessors, Joe Dunthorne rightly poses the pertinent question of at what cost this has taken place. Oliver is erudite, witty, and verbose - and for those who are bothered by verisimilitude, like in the film "Juno", it is sometimes hard to reconcile such a sharp narration with our own memories of what we and our peers were like as 15-year-olds. For those happy to wallow in the fiction, however, there are moments of anti-heroism so startling that Oliver seems to be tipping into autistic territory, a la "The Curious Incident Of The Dog At Night-time". Dunthorne's poetic background - and the inevitable metaphor and simile-heavy effects it has on its writing - started to grate a little towards the end. That said, this is an engaging, mostly well-paced story with hidden depths. One suspects - or hopes - that Dunthorne's best work is yet to come however.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not a convincing yarn 30 July 2013
By Tony B
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The plot tried too hard to show the inner workings of a teenage boy's mind and became unconvincing. The characterisations were not completely believable. The story line flitted around and was, at times, difficult to keep in focus. This is not a book I would recommend to others.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moon Cup. 20 Aug 2010
By Monk
I read this about a year ago whilst on holiday in a log cabin high in the Czech mountains.

It is a stunning first tome from a talented and imaginative writer. So why only four stars I hear you cry,well,moderation in all things is the key to a fulfilling life!

Forget Harry Potter, Adrian Mole, et al,get involved in the teenage mind set of 15 year old 'virgin' Oliver Tate and his pretty much dysfunctional parents, throw in his fire starter girlfriend Jordana and you have a reading experience that is seriously incendiary, to say the least.

I guess Joe Dunthorne, being, I think, 26 when he wrote the book didn't have too much of a problem homing in on male adolescent angst but he does it with serious panache and anyone who can should read this book, I could not put it down, and it is seriously laugh out loud.Luckily I was in the mountains so no one could hear me.

I also learned about the mysteries, to me at least, of the female menstrual cycle and the delightful real life invention that is 'The Moon Cup'!There is so much more between the covers of this book. Give yourself a treat and grab it now.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut by a supremely gifted writer 20 April 2009
Finally! A book that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Martin Amis's the Rachel Papers (which, if you loved Submarine, you must also read). Joe Dunthorne, who is, I understand, also a well regarded poet, has created, in Oliver Tate, a compelling and loveable hero; if you have teenaged boys in your life you will wince, cry and applaud - often all at the same time - and if you've recently been one I suspect you might offer up thanks that you no longer are.
This is a book with a clear sense of purpose; to document - unflinchingly (again, Amis springs to mind here) every detail of the business of being a teenager; the emotional, the physical, the metaphysical, the sexual. All set against a backdrop of a lovingly described Gower, peopled with characters who also resonate with truth, and situations (first love, sexual exploration, the anxiety of seeing cracks form in the security of his parents' marriage) that have universal relevance. I can't believe Dunthorne's parents (who MUST have been partly distilled to form Oliver's - if he denys it, I won't believe him) aren't still cringing, rictus grins in place, at the acuity with which their middle-aged peccadillos have been observed.
Don't, however, just expect humour (though there is much). This is a book with a dark side, and plenty of poignant and upsetting moments; darker, definitely, than Adrian Mole. A different animal altogether, to my mind.
It's also written in prose that manages to be that rare thing; beuatifully poetic without ever feeling pompous or overworked.
I can't wait to see what Joe Dunthorne does next.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Picks you up, then puts you down again. 14 Sep 2009
I'm about two thirds of the way through Submarine, and thought I'd pause, briefly, to decide whether or not I'm enjoying it.

I see what another reviewer means, that at about this point, this novel starts to lose its way. Though for me, the fault is that it rather over-finds it. I get the impression that Dunthorne feared nothing remarkable was happening in the trivial life of its hero, Oliver Tate, and so overcompensated with the 'retreat' scene, and other related scenes, later on.

In fact, it's that very trivia, which spookily evokes memories of one's own earlier days, which makes Adrian Mole, Black Swan Green-type novels so engaging.

Submarine has it in places, and that's when the pages turn. Unfortunately, when it loses grip with reality, it loses my attention.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read if you like something a bit different
I enjoyed the film which encouraged me to read the book. It's very similar in content. I liked the book a lot – I'm all for a bit of gallows humour but on occasions it tipped into... Read more
Published 1 month ago by uncle barbar
4.0 out of 5 stars Submarine
Very amusing, typical storey about teenagers maturing, What Adrian Mole didn't say
Published 1 month ago by Jeff Brookes
5.0 out of 5 stars Daughter loves it
Having seen the film, my daughter wanted to read the book and loved it. Quite different from the film, but a great read.
Published 7 months ago by Susan Kemp
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Very easy reading and in my opinion, much better than the film (which is good in it's own right). Arrived promptly.
Published 10 months ago by giggsy76
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, amazing, amazing!
I loved this product, great book.

The quality was brilliant, would definitely recommend it to everyone! Happy with this purchase.
Published 11 months ago by Tayler
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky funny book
Funny and moving. Very different from any other "life as a teenager" novel. Loved it and would recommend to readers of any age.
Published 13 months ago by Mrs Karen I Chegwidden
4.0 out of 5 stars Compass-point sharp
Submarine is a compass-point-sharp description of being a teenage boy lost in the process of growing up, a hybrid of Catcher In The Rye, Black Swan Green and Adrian Mole, and full... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Martin P
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I have been deliberating recently with myself with regards to, what sort of books I prefer to read. I now know that this is not one of them. Read more
Published 14 months ago by M. Beasley
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Simple and effective this novel perfectly delves into the mind of a confused, and complex teenage mind. A book destined for both adults and teenagers.
Published 14 months ago by taryn austin
5.0 out of 5 stars a quirky read
A strange little book following the troubles of a teenage boy. Its interesting and you find yourself engrossed in the main chacter, quirky and amusing, definitely worth reading.
Published 14 months ago by Lauren F
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