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Swim the Fly
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2011
Funny and heart-warming, Don Calame's Swim the Fly is a book that will make you laugh until you cry. Although I have been reading a lot of contemporary YA fiction lately, I've realised that I had yet to read one that centered around a male protagonist, and so, when Swim the Fly was pitched to me, I knew I had to give it a try. I just never imagined that my first foray into dude-lit would be such an enjoyable one. This book is laugh out loud hilarious and is definitely the funniest book I have read all year.

Friends Matt, Coop and Sean have a long standing tradition. Every summer they set themselves a mission, and this summer they've set themselves their toughest goal yet - to see a real live naked girl! You will not believe the hilarity that ensues as the trio endeavour to complete their mission. From laxatives to nudist beaches to cross-dressing, Matt, Sean and Coop know no bounds in their quest to see a hottie in the buff!

Summer is not all about trying to see naked girls, though. Well, it mostly is, but Matt, Coop and Sean are also members of their local swim team, and when Matt develops a crush on the Kelly West, the hot new girl in town, he decides to try and impress her by volunteering to swim the one-hundred yard butterfly - only the hardest stroke known to man! Further hilarity ensues as it soon emerges that Matt is no star athlete, and while he is dedicated to his cause, he spends just about as much time trying to weasel his way out of swimming the fly as he does training for it.

Every scene in this book is a gem, and Calame's writing style is vivid, entertaining and fast-paced. Matt, Coop and Sean are a great trio, while secondary characters such as the ever-funny Grandpa Arlo, for example, will leave you in fits of giggles. Feel good and funny with themes of family, friendship and loyalty at its heart, Swim the Fly will appeal to teenage boys who will be impressed by just how far Matt, Coop and Sean will go to achieve their goal, while teenage girls will delight in getting a sneak peek into how the mysterious mind of the teenage boy works!

In Swim the Fly, Don Calame has written a great coming of age tale that will brighten your day whatever your mood, and as I turned the final pages of this book (still laughing), I was delighted to see that the series is set to continue with Coop (one of my favourite characters) taking center stage next time. Beat the Band is set to release in spring 2012. I can't wait to read more!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am very much a girly girl and that is definitely reflected in what I enjoy reading. My favourite genres have to be contemporary young adult fiction and chick-lit and so when Swim the Fly was pitched to me as "dude-lit" the male equivalent to the kind of books I love I HAD to read this book.

Swim the Fly will make even the most reluctant teenage reader compelled to read more. Don Calame spins a tale that is effortlessly funny and surprisingly heart warming. Laugh out loud hilarious I could not put this book down because I just had to know what crazy scheme Matt, Coop and Sean would come up with next on their summer quest to see a real live naked girl. The fantastic characters were definitely the biggest highlight of this book for me. Each character is so hilarious and hugely likeable right from main character Matt to secondary characters like the lovable Grandpa Arlo. I really became attached to the characters and even developed a teeny tiny book boy crush on sweet, dorky, Matt. Matt is a fantastic main character at the beginning of the book he's so naive and young but as the book goes on he really grows. Matt's definitely a character you can get behind and cheer on through embarrassing and at times impossible situations.

Despite Swim the Fly being a debut novel Don Calame already has a boisterous, mischievous, effortlessly funny writing style that will speak to teenage boys. Swim the Fly is a strong addition to the dude-lit genre that's good enough to make king of dude-lit John Green's toes curl with envy.

If you're looking for a mood boosting, feel good read Swim the Fly is the book for you. I absolutely flew through this book because it was so effortlessly readable and most importantly enjoyable. This book cheered me up and took my mind off things and brought some sunshine to a gloomy day. This is the kind of book that I could happily read forever and I was so sad as I got closer to the end and even made a conscious effort to slow my reading down savouring every last page. I'm ecstatic that Don is carrying on the boy's story in a second book Beat the Band told from my personal favourite character Coop's point of view. I hope the boys have many more exciting adventures to come because I for one can't get enough and spring 2012 seems oh so very far away.

Overall Swim the Fly is a very much needed breath of fresh air in Young Adult fiction. Perfect for the nerdy teen, fans of The Inbetweeners, Napoleon Dynamite, Adrian Mole and anybody who can remember those socially awkward, hormone ridden, acne filled years will love this book. If you're looking for a book with warts and all characters, laugh out loud humour and not a supernatural creature in sight this is the book for you and comes with the highest of recommendations from me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have one word for this book: hilarious! I was in my bed reading it and at one point I was laughing so much that I scared my cat away. And she's a tough cat. If you're wondering, it was Chapter 12 that tickled me so much. I couldn't believe what I was reading, it was so embarrassing and brilliant. Genius.

So, 3 15-year-old boys - Matt, Sean and Coop - make a pact to see a girl naked by the end of the summer. (You already know this isn't going to end well, right?) Matt also volunteers to swim the [butter]fly for his team, all in the hopes of impressing a cute girl. Boys + pacts + girls = American Pie, and we all know how that turned out. Have we learnt nothing from Jim and Stifler?! Swim the Fly is like a younger version of that film (which I love very much) crossed with the The Inbetweeners. There's nothing else I can liken it to, and hopefully that comparison will give you a good idea of what awaits you on these pages.

It's quite rare for me to read a YA book narrated by a boy; they seem few and far between. I love getting an insight into the mind of a teenage boy, and I kinda wish I'd have read Swim the Fly when I was 15 - I would have teased my boy friends non-stop! Just when I thought Matt couldn't possibly get himself into another tricky situation, along came a dress or a pool party. I think bad luck just followed him around, until he met Ulf the swim teacher. That dude was mental, but he knew what he was talking about!

Swim the Fly is the funniest book I've read for a long time, and one of only a handful to make me laugh without being able to stop. It's mostly about friendship, but you'll find some girls and swimming in there too. My only niggle is that I think it could have done with being a bit shorter. I was getting restless by the end of the 300+ pages, but as always I'm sure other readers won't even notice, or care, about the page count. Oh, and it's not for the faint of heart or younger readers, nor is it for people susceptible to hiccups from laughing too much. You have been warned!

3.5/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2011
I love reading YA. I wouldn't review it if I didn't. But I have to admit that I prefer YA written for boys than YA written for girls. They're just so funny! So when Swim the Fly came through my letterbox, I started reading straight away. And it's brilliant!

I can't count the times I actually laughed out loud while reading this book, or how many of those times I actually sat there laughing for a good while before being able to continue reading. There are so many incidents in this book - whether it be the three mates desperate attempts to see a naked girl, or Matt's Grandad trying to woo a recent windower - that are just so silly and ridiculous, you can't help but laugh. Though I have to say there were moments when I felt a little disturbed at some of the things that happened, but I guess boys will be boys, and it was all fairly believable despite that.

Swim the Fly was light on the serious issues. It touched on a thing or two every now and then, but for the main part, it's a comedy. This isn't a bad thing though, as there was never much of a downer on the story, and I was kept smiling.

This review is pretty short, but I don't know what else I can say without spoiling it, as so much happens. The characters are awesome, they get themselves into so many scrapes, and come out with really funny phrases. It's just a brilliant book, and would make a good summer read. I highly recommend it, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Beat the Band. An awesome book!
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on 18 March 2014
Review by Alex - Year 9

I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it perfectly fitted the teenage genre and not a single supernatural being in sight! It had an interesting plot, that had me guessing time and time again what funny incident was going to happen next. I was beaten every time. Something would happen, and I could never, not a single time, predict what it was. Quite, simply; no crudity, just nudity instead. :)

Matthew Gratton, approaching his sweet sixteenth, narrates the story in the first person. His two best buddies from the swim team, Sean and Coop(er) accompany him on their one summertime goal: To see a real-live naked girl. Their summertime goal is their tradition, it’s their bread and butter of enjoying the summer. They’ve been doing it since forever and haven’t failed yet, and don’t intend to start. So be prepared for cross-dresses and big messes. But Matt has another goal in mind as well, to win over “smokin’ hot” Kelly Brookes by swimming the 100-yard Butterfly, the hardest stroke ever. Ever. As Matt strives to go from zero to hero on the swim team, his efforts are torn as he must also manage to see a girl fully naked, when he hasn’t even had a girlfriend. Too much work for Matt? Not when Kelly’s the top prize.

As stated above, this book made me laugh a lot. Any scene that doesn't have comedy in it is merely building up to one. Each funny scene only urged me to see to turn the next page again and again. The characters, I thought, were well developed throughout the story. Each one felt like I knew someone like them. My favourite character in this book had to be Coop. His daring plans kept the plot interesting; often not going as intended. The witty comments kept the humour new and varied. There must be one comedian in these types of books, and Coop fitted that description perfectly; He completed the gang of teenage boys topped up on testosterone. For me, I think a lot of the “disaster” scenes were well written, with each calamity flowing into the next.

Personally, I found it quite difficult to care about Kelly, despite her importance to the main character, Matt. I just didn’t find her character that interesting and I didn’t feel like she had enough to do with the main plot; most of the plot is dominated by achieving the summertime goal. All in all though, this is my only complaint.

In summary, I would definitely recommend this book to any teenage boy, unless you’re particularly faint of heart or would prefer to avoid some “vulgar” scenes. as Publisher’s Weekly said; “...will spread like Athlete’s foot in a locker room” And I couldn’t agree more. 4/5 for me and this boisterously-good book is a great read for any teenage boy. It’s just completely set apart from the rest.
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on 18 July 2011
It is very rare in the YA genre that you get to see a book such as this, which is a damn shame. The majority of YA books that I have read have been told from a female's point of view and I can only actually think of one or two which have had the voice of a male character. Not only that, but I have never read a book anywhere remotely close to being like this one, which is no bad thing.

Matt and his friends are all fantastic characters with their own distinct voices. Although the trio are obviously very close friends, they are all extremely different. The one thing they all do have in common though is how naive they are. They all have no idea whatsoever when it comes to girls and think that their task is going to be an easy one. They were wrong! Being the main character, Matt grows a lot throughout the book in many ways and I loved seeing his character progress. He does a lot of growing up due to realising that there is more to life than he once thought. The other characters are also wonderfully written. Matt's Grandpa was one of my favourites due to his weird personality and ability to make fun out of just about anything.

I don't think I have ever laughed so much at a book. I don't just mean laughing in my head either. This book had me laughing out loud so much that my flatmates were giving me a lot of funny looks. Thankfully, I wasn't reading this one at work or the customers would have thought I was completely insane. As I said in the plot summary, Matt and his friends have the goal of seeing a real-live naked girl during the summer and that in itself is quite funny. I obviously have never been in the mind of a teenage boy but I cant say that I had any goals like this when I was their age and this only makes me wonder what else teenage boys think they can accomplish when they set their minds to something.

What makes this book stand out so much is the writing style. Calame's style is witty and funny and has the ability to see the funny side of just about anything. Nothing is left out in this book which is why it comes with a parental advisory warning but that was another of its fantastic qualities. Teenage boys are pretty gross and Calame makes sure to point this out at every chance he gets. There are some seriously cringe worthy moments throughout so it is not for the feint hearted. I wondered throughout the whole book where the author was getting these crazy ideas from and whether or not any of them were from past experience. The book actually reminded me of The Inbetweeners in a way because of what the boys get up to and how they act so any fans of the show will probably like this book.

Considering that this is a debut novel, I would have never have guessed had I not known. Some debut novels can be a bit unequal in places but this book runs smoothly throughout. Calame knows what he wants to say and knows exactly how to get his message across. Although this is a bit of a coming of age story, it is unlike the norm for this kind of thing. Swim The Fly puts an exciting twist on the basic plot which has now been done to death and I, for one, couldn't be happier. This book is something which the YA genre has been screaming out for.

I cant think of anyone who this book wont relate to. Yes, it is told from the point of view of teenage boys but we are all teenagers at some point and there is something in there for everyone whether it is having a crush on someone out of your league, making crazy plans with your friends or even the insanity that is life at home. I am so happy that another of the boys is getting his own book and I will definitely be picking it up as soon as it is released. Don Calame is an author to look out for!
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on 3 July 2011
I warn you, do not read this book on public transport unless you don't mind people staring at you tittering away in the corner. Many books are funny but very few force eruptions of laughter from you when you least expect it, and Swim the Fly by Don Calame falls very comfortably into that category. This book is packed with all the cringey, awkward and embarrassing moments that plague the average teen boy's life as the trio of 15-year-old boys try to fulfil their summertime goal - to see a naked girl. Cue one badly laid plan after the other, all ending in catastrophe. Each chapter is like one episode after another of a coming-of-age sitcom, only without the unfunny bits like drugs and underage pregnancy. It's pure slapstick with enjoyable tributes to the edgy.

Don's experience as a screenwriter shines through in this story as it reads like a film, going at a really good pace and employing realistic dialogue. Perhaps the greatest skill in the writing lies in the way he weaves the relationships between each character and gives even the minor characters a really well-developed personality. I think my favourite bit part character is Grandpa Arlo with his shameless pursuit of the recently widowed Mrs Hoogenboom. I would probably die of embarrassment if my grandfather said some of the things Grandpa Arlo does and even he is a victim of the bad plan epidemic. However, despite the cringeathon, there are some really sweet moments in this book, especially the relationship between the three boys, Matt, Coop and Sean. Their interactions are so convincing that you think you've been reading about them for years but you've only known them for a few pages. Their friendship is so strong and despite their constant larking about, it's clear they would do anything for each other and this is evident in the one decent plan Coop and Sean make at the end to help Matt out in his race. I won't spoil it!

There's also a serious side to Swim the Fly - if you can believe it - and it's a side that really shows up the beauty and subtlety of the writing. From start to finish there's a tremendous sense of Matt's journey from boy to man. I know it's an age old cliché but it's woven so subtly that you don't really realise what's happened until you start thinking about it. Matt starts off as a pretty superficial guy, desperate to fit in and ogling the hottest girl on the swim team, but as the story goes on he gradually finds his humanity, realising what kind of girlfriend he actually wants, what really matters in life and what his friends mean to him. This is the beauty of the story: couching a heart-warming journey within hilarious episodes, keeping the story light but maintaining a significance and a reason to actually read it. It's not a throw away comedy, it's a beautiful and funny story, a really clever plot that will have you thinking fondly of it, like an old friend, for many months afterwards.

And don't think this is a story strictly for teen boys. Girls, Don has an amazing ability to get inside the mind of a teen boy so don't miss out on this rare insight. Adults, this one will have you indulging that secret immature side of yourself - the one that laughs internally at rude jokes and still marvels at new ways to refer to secret parts. You know it's there - do not resist!
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Review: Each Summer, Matt, Coop and Sean have had a goal. This year, see a naked girl. Then there's Matt with his own goal-impress Kelly, the girl he wants to date. Method-win at the championships for the 100m butterfly.
About 0.2% of my real life interactions involve teenage boys. It really makes a change reading something from a boy's point of view, where there isn't crazy, fantastical things going on.
Matt and Coop and Sam are kind of crazy, in the good way. Their quest leads them to do things that...really aren't normal (and from me, that's saying a lot) but are great entertainment. Despite some of them being really really disgusting. I think that teenage boys, or people with stereotypically teenage boys' humour, would really enjoy this.
I liked the characters. They're full of, well. Character, and it's a good friendship. Matt comes along a bit. Valerie was really sweet. Swim teacher Ulf was my favourite because as wlell as providing hilarity in his treatment of Matt, he also gives him good life lessons with sticking with things and providing space for Matt to develop.
The writing is first person, chatty and honest. I really liked the chapter titles for some reason.

Overall: Strength 3 tea to a book that wasn't my thing, but still enjoyable. I'll read the sequel, Beat the Band, because it seems a little more my thing.
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on 25 January 2014
To enjoy Swim The Fly you must take it for what it is, a fun, short YA novel. With its relatable characters and funny happenings, Swim The Fly really was an enjoyable novel. Was it the best of quality for a YA novel, no it was not. The writing was choppy and slightly frustrating at times. The characters became slightly annoying at parts. The story line could be seen as mediocre. It was an `ok' novel.

There really were some funny, laugh out loud moments in Swim The Fly, and our three protagonists certainly were a strangely fantastic bunch. It's a feel-good, quick read. Although, reading it became slightly tedious as it tended to go over the top at times, losing it's base of seriousness all together. Some events in the story were a bit mad, in other words.

Overall, fun is the word I'd use to sum up Swim The Fly. The story was wrapped up perfectly, making it a wholly satisfying novel. I can see a lot of young boys enjoying it. Was it the most spectacular novel in it's genre? No. Will I continue with the series? We'll see...
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on 10 November 2013
I read this book over a few days on holiday and found a few bits that were particularly funny, almost cringing for the main character as things happened. By about half way through the book though, I could see how it was going to end, and I felt a little disappointed with that. There were a few things set up to lead to bigger stories, and I felt the author changed his mind about them.

Worth a read if it is going cheap again (I paid 99p), and I have bought one of the follow-ups to read, as I'm intrigued to see how it progresses. Very American Pie style of capers. Very lovable characters, especially the grandpa! Very good writing as a first book by an author though.
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