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Slam Hardcover – 4 Oct 2007

3.2 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; First Edition, First Printing edition (4 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014138297X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141382975
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.9 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 897,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A moving read for anyone'
-- Elle Magazine, Thursday, November 1, 2007

'Hornby takes away the raw ironies of life and gently rubs away at them to reveal gems of bittersweet truth.' -- The Observer, October 7, 2007

'Truthful and funny' -- Sunday Times, October 7, 2007

'Very funny...very real' -- Telegraph, October 18, 2007

'Warm, witty and wise' -- Arena, October, 2007

About the Author

Nick Hornby was educated at Cambridge (English) and continues his education at the Emirates Stadium (football/facts of life). Nick began his career as an English teacher before going on to write the internationally bestselling novels High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good and A Long Way Down. He has written 3 works of non-fiction, the hugely popular Fever Pitch (loved by Arsenal and non-Arsenal fans alike), 31 Songs and The Polysyllabic Spree. Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About a Boy have all been made into successful films. Nick has won many awards and is a huge pop music fan. He lives and works in Highbury, North London. Slam is his first teenage fiction novel.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've been a huge fan of Hornby's since the early days, including his non-fiction, and this step into YA lit feels totally natural. After all, so many of his protagonists (including himself) are young men struggling to come to terms with adulthood and the responsibilities of "growing up." Here, the dilemma is much the same, however it's much more direct, and instead of a young man grappling adulthood, it's a teenage boy grappling with the implications of a monumental adult responsibility.

I'm guessing there have been a number of good YA books about teen pregnancy -- and if that's the case, add this one to the list. The simple story is narrated by 18-year-old North London lad Sam, reflecting back over the past two years. While it's pretty bare bones -- the cast doesn't really extend beyond Sam, his girlfriend, their respective parents, and two skater acquaintances -- things are made livelier though the device of having Sam discuss his problems with a poster of legendary pro skater Tony Hawk (whose responses are passages Sam has memorized from Hawk's autobiography). There are also a few jumps into dream sequence/time-travel which break up the straightforward narrative, although they don't actually add up to that much.

The book's real strength comes from Hornby's ability to capture the inner life of a teenage boy while avoiding all the usual pitfalls. Sam is neither too articulate nor too dense, and he's basically a well-adjusted, pleasant teen who hasn't gotten into any trouble -- until now. His narrative is full Hornby's trademark observational wit, although without nearly as many pop culture trappings as usual. The book certainly carries a cautionary message about teen sex, but it's never hectoring or reductionist. There's a strong sense of hopefulness for Sam, despite the deep hole he's dug himself. It's not an amazing book, but certainly a cut above the average.
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Format: Paperback
I expected more from Nick Hornby in his first YA book. The subject of teen pregnancy has been done to death but there isn't a great deal out there that looks at it from the father-to-be's angle and it's something that ties in with Hornby's perennial theme of men (read: teenage boys) finally being forced to take responsibility and display maturity. A writer of Hornby's talent could write a book about that in his sleep and it seems that he did.

Sam has a stereotypical background (raised by a single mother who had him whilst herself a teenager and emotionally distant from his father). The central character device of having him talk to a Tony Hawk poster reminded me of BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM but Hornby has researched skater terminology and slang and Sam's relationship with his friends is entertaining.

However the book suffers because Hornby wants Sam to be a bit of everything. He's inarticulate about his own feelings but is perceptive as to the emotions of those around him and explains them. It's a tension that does not come off. Hornby makes a lot of Sam's wanting to be a good dad, but it comes too late in the text for it to have the emotional impact it needs.

I didn't believe in his relationship with the middle-class Alicia as it's unclear what she saw in him other than that he was there and a way of getting at her snobby parents. Alicia is two-dimensional (all we learn is that she wants to be a model and is a little arrogant) and it's disappointing that Hornby avoids any discussion of her aborting the baby as this could have led to some interesting emotional development on both her and Sam's part.

Hornby's time-travel device is a problem. He hedges on whether it is actually happening, which makes it difficult to suspend disbelief in these scenes.
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Format: Hardcover
I wasn't particularly looking forward to reading Nick Hornby's `Slam', his first teenage novel. It was nineteen years since I was last a teenager and even then I think I was probably too old for the term to really stick. However this was a novel by Nick Hornby whose `High Fidelity' is my favourite novel; whose `Fever Pitch' is my favourite memoir; I think you get the idea, I like Nick Hornby, I don't however like teenagers. Anyway there was nothing for it, I had to roll up my sleeves, grit my teeth, grasp the nettle and take the book by the spine.

I'm so glad I did, what a fantastic and painfully funny book. Certainly Hornby's best since `About a Boy' with which it sets a fairly consistent tone. This is quite remarkable as `Slam' is written in the first person as a teenage boy. Although `About a Boy' was very insightful into the mind of an adolescent boy and his relationship with the adults around him it didn't have to do it in the boy's voice. `Slam' is written in a very convincing voice of a fifteen year old boy, although the language and passions for music and skating very much tie the novel to the present the spirit in which it is written ties it to teenagers of any generation and consequently I can feel a certain empathy for a teenager I could obviously have fathered.

I don't want to tell you anything of the plot as it would spoil the book to hear about it in my voice rather than `Sam's', trust me it's better than the blurb which relies too heavily on the Tony Hawks fandom to give a balanced appreciation of the book.

I think that the reason that Sam's voice in `Slam' works is that it still resonates with the same passion as Rob's did in `High Fidelity'.
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