Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
on 11 February 2007
It is perhaps no surprise that this book has garnered such diverse scorings on Amazon and similar sites. Those who give it a low score tend to attribute this to the fact that thay cannot "identify with" most or all of the characters, and those who praise it seem to focus on Hornby's ability to portray different character viewpoints and the cleverness of the conceit.
Neither of these viewpoints is wrong. If you read a book hoping to identify and sympathise with a character, then you are bound to feel alienated from at least three of the protagonists - it's more than possible that you will not identify with any of them.
On the other hand, if you are looking for literery conceipt and the ability to switch between viewpoints, you will find it here in abundance. Pay your money and take your choice.
Trying to steer between the two stools is difficult. The multi-person narrative is a device that allows the author to flash a few of his skills, but ultimately is does make it difficult to care about any of the main protagonists in particular. Given that the central plot drive is "will they or will they not sort their lives out?" this is a serious flaw, but not fatal, as the characters and their voices are at least believable. I am also heartened that Hornby didn't try and create some unbelievably sugary ending that tied everyone's lives up in a happy ending that so rarely occurs, and that I still feel that each of the characters has a life oustide of the book that I wish to explore in more detail.
To me it's a clever little tale that never quite pays off, but which is at least not predictable and does remain in the memory