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42 of 44 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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8 of 8 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
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...
Published on 18 April 2011 by EmmaJ


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42 of 44 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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26 of 27 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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8 of 8 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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45 of 48 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Book With Only One Ingredient, 29 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Starter For Ten (Kindle Edition)
Contrary to what I had hoped after coming across so many glowing reviews of this book, I found myself jacking it in after only a few chapters. Up till now I have felt myself to be an unfailingly loyal fan of British writers, (as opposed to other English-speaking nationalities, primarily American). I've always loved the way that Brits rarely go overboard exaggerating for effect, or sugar-coating plots and characters for their readers' insatiable literary sweet tooth.

But even though this book has wonderfully tight sense of irony and genuine humour, very shortly I found that I just couldn't take any more of that quality which is being pointed out in the famous Pink Floyd verse,... "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way."

A reasonable dose of irony and self-deprecation does indeed, bring a sense of genuineness to a book. But when every single thing the protagonist does ends up falling flat on its face,.... after a while, the story line just becomes predictable and monotonous. It turns into 'sponge-of-time fiction' as un-believable as any of Walt Disney's portrayals of life - where everything, in the end, goes off like an unfailing skyrocket of success. I feel that for literature to represent life, it too, needs be a mixture of highs and lows, successes and failures. A solid mass of either one or the other just dulls the palate very quickly.
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and well-observed, 19 Mar. 2011
By 
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This review is from: Starter For Ten (Kindle Edition)
I bought this having thoroughly enjoyed 'One Day' by the same author. I had already seen the TV drama adapted from the novel, which meant that I knew what was going to happen, but I don't think this detracted too much from my enjoyment of the book, which I found humorous and evocative. (I guess it would have been even more evocative had I been a student in the Eighties rather than the Sixties.)

The hero Brian Jackson is a working class lad who fulfils an ambition to make it to university (is his name a deliberate allusion to the author of the seminal 'Education and the Working Class'?), and then an even greater ambition to appear on 'University Challenge'. He has many more downs than ups, however, including a barely-requited love of a beautiful girl, conflict with his old school friend, and a disaster on the TV programme he loves. Nichols manages to keep the plot moving and engaging despite his character's constant angst about everything from his acne to the way his books should be arranged in his bedroom.

There are some great one-liners, as you'd expect from an author who is well-known for TV comedy. Just one example: Jackson is invited to spend New Year at the home of his 'girlfriend' Alice, and is awed by this large rambling house. 'Opening the wardrobe, I half expect to find Narnia.'

Nichols offers some superb set-pieces too - a riff on the awkwardness of group conversations; reflections on the loss of virginity - which make me think of him as a latter-day David Lodge, who also often takes university life as his subject.

This is a first novel, and it is not entirely satisfying - the ending, for example, is predictable and lacks a coda - but it is funny, very well-observed, and makes a rewarding read.

David Williams, Writer in the North
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comic Tale of a University `Rite of Passage', 10 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Starter For Ten (Paperback)
Our anti-hero struggles gamely with his awkward age, social class, and level of self -confidence.

Nevetheless, spurred on by a reasonably high IQ and an optimistic personality, he constructs his social life, which consists of one part fulfillment and three parts disaster.

This evocation of university life is packed with witty observations.(It probably helps if you've had similar experiences to the protagonist).

The characters he meets on the way are fun to be with, and the plot is neat and satisying enough to propel us through his story.

Good fun - our hero enjoys his life, and we enjoy it even more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and witty, 11 Nov. 2011
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Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Starter For Ten (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed One Day but think this book is even better. David Nicholls has a rare talent for humorous, clever and witty writing. In this book he captures the anguish of a clever, bookish misfit, Brian, putting his foot in it left right and centre. Brian comes from a non-academic family and is the first to get a place at University. And all of us who have been to University will recognize the existence of a confident "in-crowd" taking the new life in their stride. Brian falls for beautiful, sought-after, Alice, from the latter group and there are some priceless scenes in the book, that had me laughing out loud, when Brian stays with Alice's family in their country cottage. Brian gets into the University team to compete in University Challenge. The team is captained by Patrick, whose pernickety fussing over rehearsals, in preparation for the recording of the show, are intertwined with Brian's one-sided and painful relationship with Alice; and unexpected appearance of his belligerent former school-mate causing trouble and embarrassment. The final scenes of the book are a hilarious roller-coaster as the team are in the recording studio competing in the Challenge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing if you have already read One Day, 6 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: Starter For Ten (Paperback)
I read One Day (also by David Nicholls) and was simply enchanted by such a well written and thought provoking book. When I saw this and realised it was by the same guy I snapped it up (incidentally it was written before One Day)and I had high hopes........but I was left a little disappointed. It is readable and if the 80's are your formative years you will enjoy the nostalgia it provokes, but it isnt nearly as well written as One Day and the characters aren't as believable.
Still a pleasant read, but not a GREAT read for me.
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Starter For Ten
Starter For Ten by David Nicholls (Paperback - 1 Mar. 2004)
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