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4.4 out of 5 stars84
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 11 January 2015
High Society is a slippery-slick, fast-paced satirical series of observations on Britain's duplicitous drug laws, which will thoroughly entertain any reader who is willing to confront and question the rightness and functionality of the law. Especially when considering just how appropriate current legislation actually is, in relationship to the attempted resolving of the many inter-related problems caused by the illegal distribution, use and abuse of drugs throughout society. The same society that cannot help itself from wishing to get ‘high.’ I feel that there’s a little of the intellectual ranting of a very observant and oftentimes thoughtful Ben Elton in each of the main characters; but it’s his creation anyway, so this clearly is a paradox that must be tolerated and we are obliged surely to indulge Mr Elton in this regard. After all, we bought the book because of who wrote it, didn’t we? Personally I believe that whilst its message is serious and thought-provoking, we should still try to enjoy it as a bit of good old-fashioned pot-boiler entertainment, even if it rides dangerously upon the back of a wide and prevalent drugs theme. I’d like to read more from the keyboard of Mr. Elton, whose writing style is juicy, pacy and commands that the pages be turned.
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on 18 September 2003
If ever there was a case for potentially legalising drugs, this book presents, in my opinion, strong and emotive reasons for doing so. As with many Ben Elton books, the narrative is divided into 'mini chapters', in this case following a series of characters and their experiences with drugs; from the politician, to the prostitute, via the pop star and the junkie. I became completely engrossed by this novel, it even surpasses my previous favourite Elton novel, 'Inconceivable' and once again had me laughing out loud on the train to and from work, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers.
The charactirisation is brilliant,with Elton's usual satire shining through once again, his contempt for various issues, (as always) barely disguised.
Read this book - it's fantastic and will show you another aspect of the drugs 'problem'.
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on 14 February 2005
The mix of other reviews demonstrate how this book appeals to people in many different ways.
I felt that this was by far, Ben Eltons best work. Certainly not the funniest, but then I don't think the book was intended to be humorous, but thrilling, depicting the intertwining lives of drug takers from all walks of life.
It deals with the filth and fantasy of drug taking and how it can be glamourous and yet soul destroying, optional or not. Yes the paths of the characters may cross a few too many times, (which maybe does contradict the message about how the classes are worlds apart in their drug habits), but I think the story is still well told and the book is very entertaining.
Although written quite differently to Blast From The Past, Popcorn, Inconceivable and Dead Famous, High Society is excellent peice of work and the style compliments the narrative perfectly.
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on 6 December 2002
I was kind of hoping this wouldn't be much good, but no such luck. It's very entertaining. It's got such fantastic pace and so much plot that you just keep turning the pages. The characterisation is a bit broad in places (I found Tommy Hanson particularly overdone, particularly the Parky interviews) and at times you wish he'd slow down a bit (hardly a single scene goes on for more than two or three pages) but these are minor gripes. He makes you think, he covers all the arguments, and he pulls off a satisfying ending.
One thing though - it's not very funny. Inconceivable made me laugh out loud. So don't buy it for laughs. Just buy it because it's good.
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on 12 June 2006
The author covers some of the most taboo issues in today's society by splitting the book into a range of different stories and portraying a massive amount of characters. Elton takes us into the criminal world of drugs abuse. He shows how drugs affect every class and every branch of society - from prostitutes and the homeless up to the upper classes and royalty- and he does it well. Elton shows both sides of the argument between drug legalization and drug addiction.

Even though this book is fiction it makes you wonder about the truth behind it and it helps you get into the minds of hundreds of drug abusers and addicts around the world. This book is aimed at older readers due to its explicit nature and it is not written for the easily offended. This book is gruesome but impossible to put down.
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on 27 August 2003
well this was the first time I have read Ben Elton's book,and I thought that High Society was very funny,I have never laughed so much.
Now that I have finished my Mum is reading it and she says the same.
well have fun because we did!!!
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on 19 November 2002
Having read all of his other work, I wasn't sure how he was going to tackle this comparatively difficult subject. However, once again he has managed to handle it with both equal amounts of humour and importance. The arguments he puts forward are measured, logical and thought provoking.
If I do have any criticism, it's that I can't understand why he feels it necessary to write the parts of the Scottish, Midlands and Manchester characters almost phonetically. It adds little and can distract from what is actually being said. Also, it comes across as extremely patronising to anyone from these places.
That point aside, I would say this is as good as anything he has written to date and well worth buying.
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on 13 June 2005
This book again is accomplishment for Ben Elton another masterpiece. He picks different scenarios from all walks of society and intertwines the themes with underlying messsages about drugs and awareness. It appeals to everyone as each of the stories apply to different areas of life.The book is a great view on the society that we live in today. Again i would recommend this book to anyone.
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on 24 September 2003
Ive only ever read one other book by Ben Elton so cant really compare it to his other work. The book does have a lack of humour for Ben Elton, however, the book's subject of drug abuse is a sensitive and serious subject so I personally dont think humour would have worked anyway.
I thought this was a superbly written, compelling, interesting and moving novel with an interesting narrative. I particularly liked the way the narrative would move from one setting to the next and back again in just a few pages, while at the same time, being easy to follow. Elton, for instance, would take you to the Brit Awards ceremony in London then to a rundown housing estate in Salford and back again as a way of contrast. The book has several mini plots, though they are all linked some how. Unfortunately, the novel was also very true to life with believable characters. I grew fond of the characters towards the end, especially Tommy Hansen!
This book says more about drug abuse in society than any text book could, highly recommended, just try not to read it in one go!
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on 10 January 2003
I've just finished this book, and found myself wondering if an editor ever got to see it, before the publisher pushed it out. I agree with another reviewer, I found Elton's use of phonetic spelling for regional accents overdone, uneccessary, distracting and condescending. Elton has vast writing experience, so I wonder how he gets away with such amataeurish style. I grew up in the UK, so the 'voices' are spot on, but this approach only makes you re-read passages to pick up what's being said, and that's annoying, when you just want to get on with the story.
This is the first of his books I've read, but I'm very familiar with his work, all the way back to the early 80's when he did 'Right on' left wing stand up. It seems when he's free of writing collaboration - as in Blackadder - his lack of subtlety is still evident. Elton has always been a soapboxer with a jackhammer, and this novel felt it was preaching heavily in places, and with a fairly condescending tone.
That aside, he has the essence of odius, hypocritical politicians and journalists nailed, and a sometimes funny insight to the heaven and hell of fame and ego - from both a political and rock star perspective. I'll take bets on Tommy Hansen being a composite of Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher - Elton even references them as Tommy's rivals (Tommy's 'ego has landed' and he wants 'All my people, right here, right now') just so we don't miss it.
I still found myself caring about certain characters and needing to know the outcome of the story, it was well woven together. So while flawed in areas, he kept me reading to the end.
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