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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'A' for entertainment value
Way better than the cop-out film version, Starter for Ten is funny, clever and a wee bit more subversive than you might expect. Leading `man' Brian Jackson flounders about in the shallow end of adulthood as he sets out to make his mark at an unnamed university during the 1980s. Ah, the decade that taste forgot - cue deely boppers and Rubik's cubes, you might be thinking...
Published on 25 Aug 2007 by International Cowgirl

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not what I had hoped for
The comments on the cover and most of the previous reviews led me to believe I was in for a right laugh with this one. It wasn't the case and only occasionally laughed but not out loud. It is a well written, intelligent book with some laughs and a harmless, light meandering story.
Published on 12 May 2004 by Miss Samantha Courtney


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'A' for entertainment value, 25 Aug 2007
By 
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
Way better than the cop-out film version, Starter for Ten is funny, clever and a wee bit more subversive than you might expect. Leading `man' Brian Jackson flounders about in the shallow end of adulthood as he sets out to make his mark at an unnamed university during the 1980s. Ah, the decade that taste forgot - cue deely boppers and Rubik's cubes, you might be thinking. But you'd be wrong. From right-on Rebecca to Brian's taste in music, even the archaic price of a dinner of two... Starter for Ten is resolutely `eighties', without ever forcing it down your throat.

There's nothing earth-shattering here, let's be honest. The slightly careworn plot tells the age-old tale of acne-strewn adolescent chasing unattainable blonde bombshell. But the joy of it is that Nicholls is brave enough to portray young Brian in all his spineless glory. Whether handling a prickly Glaswegian or offering solace to his oldest friend, when it comes to moral dilemmas our `hero' has a refreshing knack for doing the wrong thing. A man for whom the phrase `faux pas' was surely coined, he's also a dab hand at saying the wrong thing, to genuinely quite side-splitting effect. As you might expect from a TV scriptwriter, Nicholls has a real gift for dialogue. The ending isn't entirely unexpected, but gets a fresh twist that makes it happy and sad at the same time without selling out. Recommended.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light weight but very funny, 27 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
This book is a quick and very funny read - I picked it up in an airport based on the fact that it was set in my era, and it was a light read for my journey.

I disagree with other reviewers comments that none of the characters are likeable. In particular, the main character, Brian, a spotty geek who tries too hard to be liked with his cringe-inducingly inapproprate jokes is engaging.

Set in the 1980s, Brian is off to university. He struggles to keep his drop-out school friends, fit in at university and pull the girl of his dreams by joining the University Challenge team. If only he were cool enough!

I won't give it away, but the book builds to a crescendo a couple of times with episodes that had me almost gasping with horror whilst nearly wetting myself laughing at the same time.

Would make a good TV drama.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I'd read in a long, long time, 17 Feb 2006
By 
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
This book resonates with my own life and experiences on so many levels; an Essex girl myself, familiar with all Brian's Southend haunts, I read this book during my difficult first year at University. I would come back from lectures, deflated, disappointed and lonely, brew myself a cuppa, reach for the HobNobs, and curl up in my room with this book. So many of his experiences seemed to parallel my own, and perhaps this is why I found it so enjoyable (and laugh-out-loud funny), and certainly allowed me to look at my own situation in a less serious light. Two years on I'm writing my dissertation and about to graduate, but I still continue to recommend and lend this book to anyone who will listen.
Buy this book (along with 'Swallowing Grandma') for anyone you know who is about to leave for University, it will certainly cheer them up in their lonelier moments and help them feel less lonely and weird. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortably exact, 21 Aug 2008
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
I borrowed this off a friend last week, and read it very quickly in a paroxysm of embarrassment for the hero as he grapples with the pitfalls of fashion, popularity, love, learning and personal hygiene that beset male adolescents in their first year at university. The story moves along at a brisk pace, centering on his twin obsessions (the beautiful Alice and his participation in "University Challenge") but also taking in his relationship with his widowed mother and his left-behind schoolfriends. Some members of the supporting cast are more credible than others: I particularly liked the feisty Rebecca, but thought it wasn't clear what the role of Brian's posh housemates in the story was supposed to be following their introduction.

The writing is very good (a simile that compares the smell in a teenaged boy's room to that of "the back of a wrist-watch" was uncomfortably exact, I thought) as is the dialogue (hearing Brian say "Oh God, Faux-Pas City!" tells you almost everything you need to know about him). Although you can probably guess how the story is going to end, I thought the way it was handled was very deft, with a neat twist that had me laughing out loud.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not what I had hoped for, 12 May 2004
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
The comments on the cover and most of the previous reviews led me to believe I was in for a right laugh with this one. It wasn't the case and only occasionally laughed but not out loud. It is a well written, intelligent book with some laughs and a harmless, light meandering story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As with all his books it's very well written, but not half as good as One day, 18 April 2011
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
I read this book after reading One Day, I was keen to get my hands on anything else written by David Nicholls (undoubtedly a brilliant writer). I found this book a let-down after the brilliance of One Day, possibly because I couldn't get to grips with the adolescent male psyche.
Parts of it are incredibly funny and like One Day his writing is very real, as are the characters. The pace of the book was rather slow and the subject matter quite depressing, saying that I still read it quickly and was keen to see what happened at the end. It seems that everything built up to the final chapter which was over as soon as it started leaving me feeling rather unfulfilled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, 23 Jan 2007
By 
Ian Paterson "exiledscotsman" (Newcastle Uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
Very enjoyable book with a good few genuine laugh out loud moments. There's definately an adrian mole influenece here with the central character Brian being intelligent in trivia and completely inept at emotional intelligence.

Follow Brian through his first year at University as the working class lad from the small town tries desperately to adap to student life. His thinking that to appear on University Challenge will make him attractive to the opposite sex perhaps says it all.

Loved the chapters where Brian encounters the object of his desire Alice's parents. Nicely paced book not too long to start to bore but enough to let the author to not just have one dimensional supporting characters.

As mentioned Adrian Mole influence but I found this book had a similar kind of feel to Mike gayle's books. Liked how Nicholl's is able to make the reader see Brian is being mocked but without him knowing this despite his voice telling the story.

Definately worth a read.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, 24 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
I am the perfect demographic for this novel, went to uni in 85, chased posh gels without success, didn't fit in with the upper middle class. I bought this book on spec because I was bored, thought it might pass a few hours.
I expected it to be cringeworthy and rather lame. The reviews went on about hilarity and snorting with laughter. Who are these people, why are they laughing so much?
Nicholls's novel could have got bogged down in 80s references, trivia and cheap jokes but actually is rather poignant and quite moving. The dinner date scene early on is a great example where out of a potentially comically absurd situation he creates a air of some sadness and anger.
Essentially what I am saying is that this novel is a lot more serious than we have been led to believe. It is not really Hornbyesque but does capture humour and sadness in a similar way to High Fidelity.
Its rare that this kind of 'shick-lit for lads' actually works. I soon forgot the references, parallels with my own experience and the setting of the novel - the characters and their stories overtook them.
In the end it was a satisfying read, if you like Hornby or O'Farrell give it a try.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read. Enjoy. Thank god uni is behind you., 12 April 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
This book is not only very funny but it captures the experience of university in the late 70s/early 80s really well. (Like a lot of other people reviewing this book, I'm not sure he's got all the period details right for any given year.) If you went to uni thenabouts, it will remind you of why being young isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you know someone starting their studies now, give it to them. When you're 19, it's good to know your acne, troubled love life, slipping grades and sickening hangovers are things we've (mostly) all lived through. And if, like our hero, you're studying 'Eng Lit', it will remind you of why you used to enjoy books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this really that good?, 3 Mar 2005
By 
R. A. Mansfield "bertieronbob" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Starter for Ten (Paperback)
What a potential joy - a novel reminiscing about the 80s and including quizzes, with the added promise of some Sharpe-esque humour! The mix was too good to be true and so it proved in my eyes.
Although a lot of the elements were well-observed, especially the mix of student-types, the book left me feeling a little flat at the end. What could have ended in a slightly anarchic and different way, chose to cop out slightly, it seemed. Maybe I was expecting too much? Perhaps I have been spoiled by such wonders as Blott and Wilt.
As I say, well written and nicely observed, but perhaps not deserving of the plaudits it so richly garnered.
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Starter for Ten
Starter for Ten by David Nicholls (Paperback - 19 July 2004)
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