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71 Reviews
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you missed the old Elton . . .
Drugs are the scourge of society. But rather than committing already stretched police resources to solving the problem, why not legalise all drugs? Not just cannabis but heroin, cocaine and E. This is the central premise at the heart of Ben Elton’s new book, a typically vituperative attack on this country’s draconian drug laws.
Writing with a passion and...
Published on 16 Nov 2002 by S. L. Carswell

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected better of Elton
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...
Published on 10 Jan 2003 by Rojair


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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars High Society, Ben Elton, 24 Nov 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
Writing for screen (The Young Ones, Blackadder) Ben Elton can be hilarious. Writing novels, he isn't nearly as reliable. His only real strength is a Grisham-esque sense of plot movement and a real talent for fluid, readable language. But it's all surface - little lies beneath. His books can be very good when they have a good plot - such as Dead Famous - and a nice slice of zeigeistery - again, Dead Famous, possibly Blast From the Past and Popcorn. But other than that, other than being easy reads perfect for a holiday, there's no real, underlying value to them. They're entertaining enough if you're in the mood, but that's about it.
High Society is certainly the worst of his efforts that I've read. It was easy to read, and was nice and thoughtless, but eventually I was broken from my reverie by realising how utterly stupid it all was. In the end, he doesn't seem to know what he's really saying; he treats his characters badly; contradicts himself thematically by what he lets happen to them. But the most obvious flaw is his terrible, terrible use of dialogue. His "heavy on colloquialisms" style is at times unreadable, and almost always annoying. True, the style of speech can illustrate a lot about character, but Elton is so unsubtle and, in the end, the characters are all, without exception, annoying. And they are so because you can't stand to read another line of speech from them. He seems dedicated to writing it down exactly as people say it, then exaggerating it a little as well for effect, and it just isn't funny or illuminating. As I say, it's just annoying, fatuous and stupid. In the end, there were huge sections I just skipped because I couldn't take another line of him trying to draw characters by simply having them speak - this form of characterisation-through-dialogue doesn't work, or at least not in Elton's hands. As a result the people of this novel are thin and, at times, cliché.
One redeeming feature is that he makes good use of this book's structure to illustrate how the drug-culture has wide-reaching effects. As a narrative metaphor, it's quite nifty, if you don't mind the sometimes awkward scene-shifting that goes on.
Elton has done better than this. My suspicion, though, is that he could also do a lot worse.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Highly overrated, 21 Dec 2003
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
This was the first Ben Elton book I have read although it didn't leave me itching to read any of his other material. I found Elton's ideas about drug legalisation issues interesting although I disliked the form the novel was written in. In the majority of cases the chapters/sections were too short for Elton to delve into the characters and their situations before moving onto others. I was impressed by Elton's versatility and encompassment of so many different social stereotypes; however the novel was stretched out too much and never really achieved its potential when dealing with such an intriguing idea. I was especially irritated and unsatisfied with the formulaic 'fairy-tale' ending. Overall; mediocre and unsatisfying.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!, 28 Dec 2003
By 
B. Wilde "Billie" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
This is the first of Ben Elton's books I have read. In four days it took me to read it I missed all my favourite shows on telly and I don't regret it! It is one of those books you recommend to all your friends, no matter their taste or age. It is true to life, touching and outrageous! Well worth the money spent on it!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Entertaining!, 29 Sep 2003
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
"High Society," is a wonderfully entertaining novel you won't want to miss! The characters are colorful and the plot a real page-turner to be sure! I have no problem giving this book my highest recommendation!
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poorly researched - many techinal inaccuracies., 11 Nov 2003
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
Well, I read to the end but the book is generally of a poor standard from start to finish.
I was particularly jarred by the fate of one character at the hands of the British justice system. There is no such criminal offence relating to 'taking' illegal drugs, no matter how dangerous they are. You are either guilty of "possesion" or "possesion with intent to supply" and you have to be caught red-handed by the Police to ensure a conviction of either. And there has never been a case in which the possesor is convicted and the admitted supplier given immunity from prosecution for giving a witness statement! Supplying drugs is a far more serious offence than simple possesion and carries a maximum of life imprisonment. It would just never happen this way. Also you would never get three years imprisonment for a first offence either. The whole scenario as it appeared in the book was simply ridiculous and a lazy way of tying up loose ends.
In a novel with any other core subject matter, this might be excusable in order to get a desired ending, but the core subject of this book *IS* the legal status of drugs in Great Britain! this laziness only serves to undermine the rest of the book (I through it across the room at this point!).
The other problem with this book is that there is only one character: Ben Elton. Every pseudo-character is simply Ben Elton in disguise, pretending to be someone else, before delivering his usual soapbox rants. The disguise is thin, the dialects poorly executed and the language they speak is unconvincing. The characters are also appalling stereotypes. Does Ben Elton actually listen to how people from North of Watford Gap speak? Or how young people speak? If you're under 30, you'll squirm with embarassment at some of the expressions he uses, especially those relating to drugs. I don't think Ben Elton has spoken to any real people at all to get his characters; he's simply watched Trainspotting, Yes Minister and perhaps Oasis/Robbie Williams on tour.
The sad thing is that I actually agree with many of the arguments his characters vent throughout the book, but did they really have to be put across so patronisingly? And there are also some powerful counter-arguments to the legalisation of drugs, which he fails to put forward.
It is amazing to me that this book has received such glowing reviews; but I guess that simply reflects the naivety of British journalists on this particular subject matter.
The whole book reads like an 6th-former's essay - the conclusion is merely Ben Elton's biased and ill-informed opinion and the body of the book simply a set of tools designed with the express purpose of reaching that conclusion.
How nice it would have been if he had kept an open mind on the subject, researched his subject properly and put forward a balanced argument with a more mature conclusion. Ah well...
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertains.... and makes you think!, 6 Dec 2003
By 
Gary Bembridge "gary_bembridge" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
I have read most of Ben Eltons books. Usually as a last resort - the bottom of the pile of books that I bought at the airport while heading off somewhere. Then think was a bad idea. But once read it always find them very compelling, well written, entertaining - and always leaves me thinking. This book is no different. The premise that the MP has is an interesting one, and yet like drugs do he in this case destroys himself and family with his own vice. Which was worse. Leaves you thinking. I recommend this book as a good read - and for giving you something to ponder (without losing too much sleep!).
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's worth a read, 25 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
Despite the four star I gave - I am quite picky - you'll be hooked by the story. Give it a read.
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6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ironically bad..., 30 Jan 2003
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
...in that two of the most annoying things in the book are also the most annoying in real life. Firstly, one of the main characters is an over-precocious teenager. Co-incidentally enough, being spoken to at enormous length by an over-precocious teenager *exactly replicates* the experience of reading this book. It's like a whole book written by the MMKAY teacher from 'South Park'. My favourites: 'It's the law that's killin' me' from Jessie, life-worn-down terrible-luck crack ho coming over all philosophical for no earthly narrative reason, and the black supermodel who serves the story no purpose except to say, 'if anything's killing me, it's forty malboro reds a day. Oh, do you see, idiot reader?'
The other point of this grotesquely oversimplified crap is its barracking, neverending, hectoring, I- know- everything tone- remind you of anything? Well, yes, in fact, someone on drugs.
It resembles another two hours of my life than I'm never getting back, 'Inconceivable, where every time the characters say or write anything it's greeted with laughter, tears and applause by the stunned fictional audiences. It doesn't resemble the Big Brother murder one, because that was really good.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good so far!, 2 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
I haven't finished this book yet, but so far it's really good. The storylines all intermingle and gradually give subtle hints to how the characters lives might come together. I can't wait to find out how all their stories unfold, the characters are really interesting and I enjoy finding out more and more about them as their stories are revealed through first person aswell as the traditional story-telling method. A great first 1/4 of the book!
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why did I read this book?, 19 July 2005
By 
This review is from: High Society (Paperback)
This is the kind of book that you start reading, and start disliking, but then you can't stop reading it. As the story progresses, you start to wish that all the characters will die, or something, anything to just make it end. Finally, the book concludes and you feel dirty and annoyed. Why did I start this book... Why did I have to finish it?
Save yourself the misery. Skip this pulp.
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High Society
High Society by Ben Elton (Paperback - 1 July 2003)
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