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3.4 out of 5 stars102
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 11 June 2012
MeltdownBen Elton has done it again. A funny, witty book with the impact of a sledge hammer. He really does know how to write humour. His stand up routines maay have passed but his writing skills are just being honed. Great book.
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on 22 December 2013
My overwhelming reading preference is towards comedy books and although I think of Ben Elton in that genre, this isn't an all-out hilarious book by any means. It would be more accurately described as mildly amusing and for the most part contains just the right amount of gentle humour to ensure you don't become too deflated by all the doom and gloom of the effects of the credit crunch covered in the story. Overall, if you're a Ben Elton fan then you pretty much know the drill by now and in truth Meltdown doesn't deviate too much from that standard tried and tested successful Ben Elton formula.
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on 8 November 2012
Very contemporary, relevant and quite believable with a reassuringly connected plot, as is Ben Elton's way. For me it was a real page-turner, but I am a fan of all his books I've read (which is nearly all of them). I think he's a genius of entertaining, thought-provoking social commentary.
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on 28 August 2013
This book is just a brilliant satirical look at the collective self-deception of the financial community in the run-up to the financial crash. It is wickedly funny and so, so true. The only thing which stops me giving it 5 stars is that Elton uses the book rather too obviously as a vehicle to push his own left-wing views - I found this a little irritating. There is no doubt though that his talent for satirical comic writing is exceptional.
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on 17 April 2012
Ben Elton always manages to capture what is current in the public eye - this tale of caution against over-excess and smugness by high rollers reflects the current situation in the City, where "non-jobs" seem to have been discovered for what they are - bucket loads of bovine excreta!
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on 12 November 2011
Some of the 1 - 2 stars are unnecessarily harsh IMO.
It's typical Elton of late but that is not a bad thing.
It is punchy and very readable, albeit very clichéd, BUT, again, that is a good thing.
A brilliant satire and Elton has a real skill of stripping down every aspect of life and inserting genuine comic touches.
Intelligent and thought provoking it isn't, but fun and enjoyable it is.
I like the descriptions of the absurdities and extravagance of the wealthy and the distorted mindset it can bring upon people. i.e., a multi millionaire designer, obsessed with creating nice packages for gifts, it's not what's in the box that counts, but the box itself! Well observed and so very true. I for one remember a silly piece of regional news about a woman with a boutique `wrapping' shop in West London making a fortune, as she had developed a `scientific' way to wrap gifts!!!! There is a real send up of this kind of thinking in Meltdown.
It also takes a good look at how hard the protagonists life becomes once he has to cut back on all the ridiculous extravagances he was once afforded.
Funny, pacey, enjoyable fun you will breeze through in days.
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on 16 March 2014
This is the first book I've heard by Ben Elton and I found myself surprisingly engaged over the weekend it took for me to get to the end of it. The plot centres around Jimmy Corby, a stock trader who, at the height of his success, is hit very hard by the credit crunch of 2008 and loses almost all of his wealth. Along the way, we also see how it affects six of his closest friends as they rise up through a huge amount of success in the 90s, only to find themselves in trouble as the topical affairs of the late 00's catch up to them as well (usually involving the collapse of the economy, but there is also a reference to the MP's Expenses scandal.)

There's a lot going for the book here. I usually enjoy hearing a real-world tale of a time that I can remember and we're not so very far away from, and this was no exception. All of the characters are flawed to the point that they're not entirely likeable to begin with; overblown caricatures of the snobbish upper-class. But however little sympathy you have for them at the start, losing all of your money is never a pleasant experience - no matter how much or little of it you have, and it is interesting to get, if not an insight, then an idea of what it was like for the people who had everything to lose it all. For Jimmy in particular, it comes across as a kind of mid-life rite of passage, as he and his wife Monica take an active role in being a mother and father to their three children for the first time without their entourage of nannies and help. They are forced to consider what is important, and what they can manage without. And there are some light, more comical moments as well, which is quite nice since the plot is quite bleak.

However, it is not without its weakness. There are holes in, not the plot itself, but certain scenes where the characters do and say things that reduce the books believability. A lot of the views that the book tries to get across appear to be overly cynical and the ending is perhaps a little bit contrived. And I did find myself wondering around half way through the book whether the description of 'The Banana,' a fictitious building in London which I can only assume is there to satirise The Shard, was put in so that Ben Elton could force in yet another nob gag (it doesn't happen too often in the book, but it is something which I've seen come up far too often in his recent work.)

The book is what it is - an idea. An idea of how the credit crunch affected those at the top. An idea of how they might have dealt with it. An idea of just how far people are willing to go in order to hang on to what they have left. And if this is an idea you're willing to explore, then I would recommend this book to you. But don't take it too seriously, or as stone cold fact. Because while parts of the story are certainly true for somebody, I doubt this is the way it all actually happened. Just enjoy it instead.
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on 23 October 2011
I'm a huge fan of Ben Elton, I'm close to owning all of his books. His offerings of the last decade have been fantastic. "Dead Famous" is an unputdownable, hilarious novel. "The First Casualty" is gripping from start to finish without the humour, and with powerful messages. And "Blind Faith" is (in my opinion) his best. And that's just a few examples.

With "Meltdown" there aren't THAT many laughs. If you're expecting a comedy you may be disappointed. His best comedy can be found in "Dead Famous" and "This Other Eden" (again, IN MY OPINION). However, there's a great deal of satire which is entertaining. This is a very poignant drama that makes you empathize with its characters. The characters are familiar and likeable, and in some cases, extremely unlikable. Either way, you should have strong feelings towards all of them. That's good writing in my eyes! You can feel the friendship they share and empathize when tragedy strikes, and it strikes a lot.

As usual, it's written concisely, which really creates pace (it follows the same chapter style as Stark and Chart Throb), to the point where if real life weren't such a disturbance, you would read all day long.

Overall I'd reccommend it strongly.
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on 10 May 2012
I have read most of his books and, unfortunately, I think they are getting worse, badly written, predictable characters; this one was just phoned in and is just a vehicle to express his own political ideologies which seem slightly(!) watered down from the Ben in the Thatcher years. It's a shame because I loved Stark, Popcorn and Gridlock but I will think twice about trying another one. Sorry.
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on 11 August 2011
I will hold my hands up and say that this is the first Ben Elton Novel that I have read, so I have no basis for comparison, but i thought it was poor. This novel struck me as nothing more than Eltons mind poured out on paper with a loose story stuck on it. The endless meetings and dialogues between the characters left my mind wandering as to which character was which as they are not well characterised and have interchangeable personas. The ending, as so many reviewers have stated, felt like a quick and hastily written wrap up to cap off a weak offering. In all honesty it struck me as a book that the average amateur writer could have bashed out in a few months.

In my opinion I dont think Elton can shake off ( nor do I think he wants to ) the "Trendy Lefty Thatcher basher" That I remember him being throughout the 80's. Perhaps his other novels are something to behold, I cant really say that I'm interested enough to find out though.
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