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Kill Your Friends Paperback – 7 Feb 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 279 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (7 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043401799X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434017997
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 683,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"One of the evilest, most vicious, despicable characters ever. I couldn't put it down." (James Dean Bradfield, The Manic Street Preachers)

"Kill Your Friends gladly hammers the final and needed nail into the coffin of self-serving and undignified spin that was "Cool Britannia". It exposes a world that seethes alongside us and in which we all collude but whose nasty little machinery is rarely glimpsed. The novel is furiously, filthily funny, and, I imagine, tragically true." (Niall Griffiths)

"Anyone working in or trying to get into the music industry should read this book. Niven grotesquely portrays the short term disposability of this world with a great eye for detail and a stockpile of hilarious insults. Throw in some murder and major brand obsession and you have an indie American Psycho." (James Brown)

"The anti-hero of John Niven's Kill Your Friends is magnificently eloquent in an utterly sewer-minded way...A vicious, black-hearted howl of a book...A realistic portrait of the music industry, doing for it what The Player did for Hollywood. Having spent ten years in the business [Niven's] insider knowledge, coupled with the kind of headlong, febrile prose that would have Hunter S. Thomson happily emptying both barrels into the sky, results in a novel that is cripplingly funny in the way that only the very darkest comedy can be." (Chris Power The Times)

"A rollicking tale of record company excess...Hysterical...Niven worked in the UK music industry for 10 years and his insider knowledge pays off...This is truly an account of a lost era, a brilliant description of the last decadent blow-out." (Matt Thorne Independent on Sunday)


"Dark, twisted... and also laugh-out-loud funny" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh my God, I was not ready for this. Not at all. I absolutely bloody loved it. It's utterly jaw dropping stuff. But sweet Jesus! John Niven you sick, depraved genius.
I've been in two minds telling people about this book. On the one hand it's one of the best books I've ever read. On the other it a debouched, misogynistic, horrifically violent, ugly snarling beast. It's hard to recommend a book called `Kill your Friends' to well.... your friends; what are they going to think of me? Are they going to get it? Are they going to think that I identify with the characters, that this is something I aspire to? God I hope not but like I said, I loved this book. I read disbelieving, like staring at a train wreck or a grisly internet video.
The story concerns the music industry during Brit Pop's heyday. Steven Stelfox is our Protagonist and what a creation he is. A lazier man than me would describe him as a Patrick Bateman for the Music Industry, there are definite parallels: The money, the life of privilege and excess, a predilection for prostitutes, murder and doing anything to get ahead but Steven Stelfox is not Patrick Bateman. Bateman was a Sociopath, Stelfox definitely isn't, he's an unbelievably nasty piece of work, but he is very much a complete person with the full gambit of human emotions. it's just that they're buried deep under layers of greed, ambition Rage and lust. Niven is also not Easton-Ellis, American Psycho was cold, clinical, emotionless and bloody hard going. Kill Your Friends is an absolute riot. Niven has a way with words that will make your eyes water and in Stelfox he has the chance to voice every None PC, hateful and `you know it's wrong but...' thought that has ever entered his head.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not sure I should be spending time actually reviewing this, as getting down on my knees and praying for the salvation of humanity might be a better use of my time. Don't get me wrong, in my opinion, it was a very good novel. However, I thought the protagonist was simply the worst humanity has to offer, the personification of Satan on earth. The depths that "Steven Stelfox" sinks to make you feel violated in a way that only a shower with brillo pads could expunge. Truly a character to sully the soul.

Paradoxically, I couldn't put the damn thing down. It is incredibly well written, as is any novel with a character that has a strong emotional effect. The author is talented, and hilarious.

Nivens depictions of Stelfox's thought process are side-splitting as well as repellent. He seems to have turned the curse ridden one-liner into an art form. Which is a relief because without the exquisite humour, the novel wouldn't work, as it would be so debauched that I would have thrown in on the fire. The humour keeps it just light enough to engage with a very real, if evil, character, the likes of which I have never seen before - and hope I never have any close dealings with.

The story covers one year in the music business, and in much the same way as "City Boy" by Geraint Anderson reveals the dark underbelly of the finance industry, this does the same for record labels. The difference being that it is hard to see any upside, or how anyone could stand up to so much alcohol and drug abuse, while still being able to utter a coherent sentence.

Murder, drugs, pornography, booze and more booze are the staple diet of Stelfox. The dark humoured look into his twisted mind lifts the lid on the ruinous side to this industry and the intoxicating lure of fame and adoration.
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Format: Paperback
Kill Your Friends is a sharp, witty and disturbing read. The lead character Steven who works in the music industry is a quite horrible individual. He's sexist, racist, ageist, you name it, but most of the time he's only guilty of admitting openly to thoughts that a lot of people have but don't admit to. He's then even more guilty of actually acting upon those thoughts.
This is to put it politely a "re-imagining" of American Psycho, but where I found AP quite heavy going KYF is funny and it's loaded up with great pop culture references from its setting in the mid 90's.
I enjoyed the fact that the narrator was such an unpleasant individual. It makes a refreshing change to have a lead character who isn't heroic and isn't looking to become a better person.
A good read, but not for the easily offended.
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If the repeated references to taking cocaine (let alone any of the many other drugs) had been edited out of this book then it could almost have been 11 rather than 12 chapters long. For a short novel, there's a lot of repetition. Some works but, in my opinion, some doesn't (or maybe the constant snorting is an explanation for Steven, the protagonist's, completely amoral behaviour).

There's some excellent writing in the novel and some stinging satire that hits all its vacuous, image-obsessed late 90s targets -- both in the music industry and, by extension, in wider society at the time. Readers in much less glamorous jobs than record-industry A&R will be able to sympathise with the protagonist's contempt for talentless, phoney and over-promoted colleagues, although it's a weakness in the novel that Steven Stelfox doesn't demonstrate that he's any better at what he does than any of those he loathes. Similarly, it gets quite wearing for everyone in the novel's music industry world to be crap and talentless -- when a writer tries to conjure up work in another form (e.g. music, painting) it's far easier to portray it as rubbish.

No doubt it's meant to be ironic but the blatant snobbery, misogyny and racism revealed in Stelfox's inner monologue is hard to stomach. Much of it isn't clever or inventive and it's also very repetitive but it's probably 'of its time' and has dated very quickly.

I didn't particularly enjoy the graphic violence in the more brutal parts of the novel but these were nevertheless well-written.

The plot is relatively slight and is supported by the year-in-the-life structure but the narrative strands are well-handled and intertwine well as a whole, although I wasn't that convinced by the ending.
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