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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
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...
Published on 23 Oct. 2011 by Max Watt

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan Coe for Dummies
An attempt at the sort of 'politics intertwining with personal lives' novels that Jonathan Coe excels at, only rubbish.

Anyway, to summarize: 6 students share a house together, in the early 90s. Despite having absolutely nothing whatsoever in common, they are still best friends 20 years later, by which time by an amazing coincidence they've all become...
Published on 19 May 2012 by A. Miles


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan Coe for Dummies, 19 May 2012
By 
A. Miles (Al Khor, Qatar) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meltdown (Paperback)
An attempt at the sort of 'politics intertwining with personal lives' novels that Jonathan Coe excels at, only rubbish.

Anyway, to summarize: 6 students share a house together, in the early 90s. Despite having absolutely nothing whatsoever in common, they are still best friends 20 years later, by which time by an amazing coincidence they've all become extremely successful in areas that make them especially vulnerable to the late noughties financial crisis. (This latter also being a bit hard to believe, as judging by the conversations they have with each other, none of 'em seem to have that much going on upstairs)

So, after Ben's introduced a few subsidiary characters who conveniently explain the financial crisis in terms a five year old could grasp, we have 500 pages of dull, one dimensional caricatures of what are already caricatured media 'types'(A yuppie trader, a tory banker, a Blairite MP, a postmodernist architect and a Nigela-Lawson stylee foodie guru) sitting around their Notting Hill gaffs having banal and tedious conversations which serve to only exposite Ben's banal and tedious insights into noughties culture: The problem here is that, one guesses, that Elton intention to satirise these sort of lifestyles,but seems to think that merely describing them qualifies as that. So the Nigella Lawson character 'has a range of sandwiches in Marks nd Spencer' From which I suppose we're supposed to deduce...what, exactly?

Terrible.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An engaging story - but it is just a story., 16 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Meltdown (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 23 Oct. 2011
By 
Max Watt (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meltdown (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Its Ben Elton......... and very readable., 12 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Meltdown (Kindle Edition)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Good, 10 May 2012
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This review is from: Meltdown (Paperback)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing and disappointing - None of the humour expected from Elton, 26 May 2010
By 
D. Davies "Sundance" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meltdown (Hardcover)
Having read all of Ben Eltons back catologue, I am a fan of his work. Living and working in London, I was thrilled to see this book coming out. What a massive let down.

The characters are unsympathetic and boring. The story is slow paced and predictable. Anybody who's read a paper in the last two years will know what coming here, and to dwell on the misery and gloom of the credit crunch for 300 plus pages without any light relief is depressing.

Avoid avoid avoid.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit preachy, 13 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Meltdown (Paperback)
I love Ben Elton's books and yes I did quite enjoy this one too. But, dare I say, I found parts of this a bit preachy by which I mean that each character is just too obviously there to state a certain opinion throughout the book. Jimmy's father who is the traditional old-school bank manager is a good example of this as whenever he opens his mouth he's basically saying all the sensible stuff about responsible money management, whereas conscience-free Rupert challenges and outrages consistently with his over-the-top right wing ranting. I found I was almost thinking of the characters as roles/devices rather than people.

Having said that, I read it to the end and giggled in places at the crazy descriptions of the chaotic homelife after the nanny has departed. Some very sharp humour as always, but not a particularly clever plot, a bit predictable, and not my favourite of Ben Elton's books.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment, 25 Nov. 2011
By 
M. Rae "Mark Rae" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meltdown (Paperback)
I eagerly awaited the publication of this, as Elton is one of my favourite contemporary authors. What a disappointment! I couldn't get into this at all. I found the characters little more than caricatures of stereotypes and the plot (such as it was) bored me rigid. This is first Ben Elton book that I have not thoroughly enjoyed, and the only one which I was more than able to put down.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special., 11 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Meltdown (Hardcover)
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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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, can't believe there are some negative reviews, 11 Jan. 2010
By 
M. Turner "Matt" (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meltdown (Hardcover)
Ben Elton uses the credit crunch as a backdrop for a book about "greed." The dialogue is sharp and funny, and the book follows a group of ultra-successful University friends through the late 90s up to present day. Anyone hoping for a thriller that represents an in-depth examination into the mechanics behind the financial meltdown would be better reading The Credit Crunch Conspiracy. This book is an interesting, amusing character piece, and is exactly what you would expect from Ben Elton covering a subject of this type.
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Meltdown
Meltdown by Ben Elton (Audio CD - 5 Nov. 2009)
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