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4.1 out of 5 stars18
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 2 October 2012
An impatient reader, I looked forward to this secure that it would be taut and get as much comically out of every paragraph as possible; more Fall Of The House Of Usher than Tess Of The Sodding D'Urbervilles. Sure enough it is, and does.

Beyond the cited Adamsesque(?) conversational and self-effacing tone (reminiscent also of Vonnegut, I suppose) he crafts images in the style Douglas Adams is most quoted for, ranging from the sublime ("the sun fighting its way over the clouds like a smoker climbing the stairs") to the ridiculous ("huge tower blocks, painted according to some ill-advised '70s scheme in black and yellow, like vertical wasps"). I guess that also reflects his form as someone having to describe music he didn't like in print. Cat being pulled out of a cutlery drawer by Vince Clarke, stuff like that. David's book is chocker with this. I grew up on Hitchhiker's, and laugh though I did I don't recall laughing out loud often, as I have with Sparks.

I'd like to have learned more about Alison, and explored the multiverse further - felt a little of the story was lost in the telling of it. But it's still a good yarn told brilliantly. Less than the cost of a Mail On Sunday and a packet of chewing gum, and unlike either you can consume it without a nagging emptiness emerging in the pit of your stomach.
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on 26 September 2012
So having my ebook price expectations firmly set at 99p by Kindle Daily Deals, I initially wasn't sure how a book could possibly be worth £1.93. But the names David Quantick and Steven Appleby took me back to my teenage NME-buying days so I thought what the hell, I'll give it a go.

Sparks isn't, as I'd first imagined, a biography of the 70s alternative rock band, but more a light-hearted sci-fi-ish comedy about alternative universes. It's a pacey read, a bit reminiscent of the first couple of Hitchhiker's Guide books (before they got terrible) albeit more earthbound.

I can quite honestly say that it was well worth breaching my book budget by 94p (almost double!) and I recommend you do the same.
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on 23 September 2012
If Sparks read this book he probably would have written the above review! As an anti-hero he's perfect. This reminded me of Douglas Adams. Normality meets unreality with humorous consequences. A great read for a great price!
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on 13 October 2012
Every bloke has been there. You're lying on the couch, covered in crisps while your S.O. yells at you to say that if you don't straighten up, she's leaving. You've got two choices: either straighten up and achieve your potential, or live your life alone on the sofa, crying Wotsit-flavoured tears.

Paul Sparks has discovered a third option. He is exploring inter-dimensional portals and combing the multiverse for a version of his girlfriend with slightly lower standards. What a legend. Other slackers will write folk songs about this man.

Sparks is the Lebowski-like hero of this cracking scifi comedy. Bone-idle and borderline alcoholic, his life seems hopeless after the beautiful Alison ditches him, until an accident with Google leads him to discover the doorways to other earths, and he sets off in search of a date with his ex. He searches for her in a variety of alternative Londons - including one where the city is entirely overrun by bears - while being pursued by members of The Society, a shadowy group who have been using the portals to search for God.

A lot of the central ideas are pretty familiar, and as the chase heats up it starts to resemble an inter-dimensional version of the hallway scenes in Scooby Doo (actually, portals to other worlds would explain how those scenes worked...). But Quantick knows what he's doing: the characters are great, the plot never gets dull and as you'd expect from a comedy writer of Quantick's pedigree, it's full of LOLs. Good stuff.
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on 5 December 2012
Sparks is the tale of a hapless lazybones hitting rock bottom - at which point, quite unwittingly, he finds himself at the cutting edge of modern physics.

Well, not quite. But part of the pleasure of this mostly-just-very-funny novel is its assimilation of grand ideas into the fabric of one man's mundane existence. All the eponymous Sparks wants to do in visiting numerous alternative universes is find a version of his girlfriend prepared to forgive his slothful ways. The rest - big questions about the implications of infinite worlds - is all incidental to the one thing which, ultimately, will have a far greater bearing on our hero's day-to-day happiness.

Quantick unpacks his slippery, potentially unwieldy conceit with charm and economy. The story is particularly strong as different layers and viewpoints are established, adding intrigue and purpose to Sparks' picaresque travails. When the chaos finally irons itself out, points are made and issues resolved with judicious light-handedness. As in the best of the genre - I was reminded of Douglas Adams and Ben Elton - deeper meanings are there if you want them, but for the most part the novel is just a fun excursion down 'what if' avenue. It's not going to change the world, but then - as Quantick delights in showing us - that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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on 10 November 2012
David Quantick is a very funny man, and this is a very funny book. Any vaguely comic SF attracts Douglas Adams comparisons, but here they're justified: Sparks is a very English hero, a man who gets pummelled in fights and who reacts to enormous, improbable, astonishing events with all the enthusiasm you'd summon for a disappointing Cornish pasty. The worse his predicament becomes, the funnier things get. Imagine The Time Traveler's Wife or One Day, but with a hapless hero and angry bears.
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on 5 October 2012
Very enjoyable, humour and incident-rich. Douglas Adams comparisons inevitable in this genre but I felt more of a connection to Sparks than I ever did to Arthur Dent because Sparks' problems are more like mine. The current version of the novel needs a better proofing, even I spotted a good few errors and I'm quite dim. Well worth the price of a tiny espresso, or even a venti latte and one of those rock hard biscuits they sell for a quid, cheeky swine.
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on 11 October 2012
I'm a sucker for comedy sci-fi novels, especially ones with a British anti-hero, and so Sparks was right up my street, as well as millions of other parallel streets. It was impossible to read it without hearing Quantick's own dulcet tones, which made it even more enjoyable.

Witty and well-written, lots of fun and well worth a look.
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on 30 September 2012
A novel by uber media pundit David Quantick (he's been on telly a whole 12 times!) - surely a must-buy... but what is this? Only available on Kindle? Not in papery page-turnable, burnable version? Witchcraft, surely.

I don't own a Kindle. I fear new technology. I wrote an essay in 1994 stating that the Internet was a bit pants and would never catch on, and I stick by that. But I really, really wanted to read this book. I wasn't going to buy a Kindle to read it - that would have pushed the price up to £70.93, which even for the hallowed words of the great Quantick, would be a bit steep.

So, instead, I downloaded Kindle for iPhone (who knew?) and read it on there, in a teeny tiny font, like a really long Tweet. It was excellent. A little bit magicky, but not so much that you can't read it if you're not a geek. Or are female.

In summary: worth the eyestrain. And probably even more enjoyable if you've got a Kindle. Or an iPad. Or have printed it all out and stapled it together to make your own papery version, just like in the old days.

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on 1 January 2013
I LOVED this.

We all know a Sparks - the unmotivated loser who can't grow up and makes most of his ill-judged decisions based on lust. And the premise that he's a loser in every other dimension - albeit in ever-so-slightly different losery ways - makes it funnier still. The slapstick villains were superb, too. It's fast-paced, ridiculous, hilarious and almost possible.

Given the inevitable Adams comparisons, I read 'Hitchhikers' immediately after (yes, it took me until 41 to get round to it). Actually, I only got halfway through; as a novel, Sparks stands head and shoulders above it.

And when it IS dramatised - though let's see it in printed format first - might I suggest the theme song? 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us' by Sparks. Geddit?
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