Most helpful critical review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2011
The first one in the series was truly hilarious, especially for those like me who actually knows something about life in Paris if you're not French. Evidently, Mr Clarke put everything into it, because the second one felt much more shallow in terms of an actual insight into various ways of the French. Also, there were signs of the story turning into a simple comedy of relationships rather than fish-out-of-water comedy, done so well in the first one. Still, it got its moments and, on the whole, was OK (if you exclude the ending, which was contrived and artificial beyond belief). Now, the third one... simply a dud. Lacks everything that made the first one so great, but most of all - totally lacks witty observations. It feels like it was written due to the contractual obligations, and the author actually does not have a lot to say about anything, USA in particular. This time there is no feeling of a personal experience behind the adventures of Paul West, so his American mishaps lack authenticity. The cheapest and most obvious cliches about the USA are exploited, and it feels like this book could have been written by someone who's never even been to the States.
Seems that Mr Clarke (or his publishers) decided to expand his reader base to include the American side (after all, no matter how great A Year In The Merde was, you really need to have to experience even a tiny bit of Paris to truly enjoy it, which is not the case for most of the Americans and thus seriously hits the sales figures overseas). Perhaps it wasn't so bad in itself, but it is painfully evident that he simply does not have as much material to work with in this case (be it his superficial knowledge of the American life or a lack of interest to it), so he relies on almost Hollywood-sized stereotypes to produce gags.
Unlike the second one, this has no redeeming qualities. It also commits the crime of turning one of the key characters of the story, previously established as a person of intelligence and integrity, into an unsupportive nagger and a cheat. Way to go, Stephen! All in all, total sellout. Avoid if you liked previous installments.