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4.1 out of 5 stars
25
4.1 out of 5 stars
Election
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on 6 August 2011
This is a deceptively simple book, and an easy read as well - I gobbled it up in one sitting. Tracy Flick appears a shoe-in for School President - until popular teacher, Mr M, persuades unambitious jock, Paul, to run. Essentially what is going on on the surface is fun but irrelevant - the novel operates as a parable for modern life - you are chasing the wrong thing, you are going after it for the wrong reasons, and even if you manage to get what you think you want, at best you will be only briefly happy. The titular election leaves all the characters worse off (except Paul's gf Lisa) - again echoing modern life, in that much is sad and downbeat.

Perrotta does a very good job of brevity, giving you short, punchy & easily readable, and letting absence define his characters without beating you over the head with it; Tracy, for example, left me sad and wanting to give her a big hug at the end, as she is clearly trying to fill the father filled void in her life, and has become an adult without even recognising the childhood / adolescence she missed out on.

So why only 3 stars? Well, with such a short book, there's a lot of tell and not show to quickly flesh out the characters - Mr M is a cool teacher, who everyone likes. Why? What subject does he even teach? There's a quick classroom cameo of him prompting kids to lean the right way, but it's very unsatisfactory - aren't there some kids who don't like him and his "I'm your good buddy" schtick? Similarly, it's really difficult to understand why Tracy is a real prospect to win the election once other candidates emerge - she has no friends or support base. I've seen other reviews refer to her as the popular girl, which I assume is a reference to the movie, as the yearbook scenes in the book clearly show she hasn't been particularly noticed by her peer group.

Similarly some of the plotting is sloppy - how the missing ballot papers are found is utterly unbelievable, whilst Mr M's late book relationship with his wife and alienation from the school (trying not to give away spoilers here hence the non-specific terms!) also don't ring true.

Overall though, I'm impressed with the tight writing style and I suspect I'll find myself thinking of some of the characters unexpectedly in the days and months ahead.
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on 19 November 2003
Having seen the film Election and enjoyed it, I was eager to read the book. The book did not disappoint. It is a short volume and therefore a very quick read - I read it in one sitting - but this only adds to the appeal, as the writing style is sharp and quick too. Written from the perspectives of all the main characters, the reader is allowed to fully explore each character in detail and, although some of the characters appear quite unlikeable on the surface, you do find yourself warming to them. The prose is fairly sparse but you are invited to read between the lines and, in this way, such as lot is said.
Election is a fast-paced book, incredibly witty and enjoyable. I would highly recommend it. Check out the film too. It remains refreshingly loyal to the book!
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2007
It's a little bit 'blink and you'll miss it' but this snappy tale about the mayhem caused by a school election is definitely worth devoting a couple of hours to. Coming in at two hundred pages and fairly spacious print, it's pretty much a short story in terms of content. Perrotta spins it out a bit with an unusual 'talking heads' format that passes the baton from one narrator to another, sometimes only for a page or two. There's 'Mr M', the teacher who first sets the ball rolling; Paul Warren, the jock with hidden depths; intellectual Lisa Flanagan; Paul's sister Tammy, nursing a massive crush on Lisa - and then of course there's über-student Tracy Flick, with the really great, um, posterior and the kind of naked ambition once seen wearing a cone-shaped bra.

There's plenty of scandal here but in spite of its title Election has more to say about human relationships than political intrigue. This is a book about secrets. Everyone's hiding something, and the bad guys are just the ones who get found out. Deceptively simple, this book has the ring of spontaneity to it...which in actual fact is probably down to very careful editing. It's a breezy but effective read, fairly similar in tone to the (pretty decent) film version. Great stuff, but for something a little meatier try one of his later novels,`Little Children'.
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on 21 June 2012
If you wished to read this book after seeing the movie, I can honestly say that there is no need. The movie captures everything in the book and actually improves on it somewhat, the only difference to them is a slight change to the ending (of which I preferred the movie's more).
All of the characters each get their individual chapters and passages throughout the novel and it quickly becomes clear who are the more 'favourite' POV's are and who's chapters you just want to get through. Also, despite being possibly the standout character in the book, Tracy Flick seems to get decidedly less of a page count in comparison to some of the others, which left me disappointed.

Overall, an enjoyable book that you can power through in around two hours...but you could probably just watch the movie in that time and have about as much fun.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 July 2014
Enjoyable, though not without it’s low points, this is the story of an American High School’s election for president of the school. The annoying Tracey Flick is certain she is going to win. She’s smart, popular – among a percentage of the school population that comes across as those without much initiative of their own. She also slept with one of her teachers, but the blame landed squarely on him and she worked hard to regain her popularity. The teacher was quietly sacked and it seems that Tracey got away with it without much approbation attaching to her.

This book was made into a very good film, though it’s slightly distracting that I have to say that the film is better than the book.

The format of this book is a series of events in shortish sections that move the plot along quite nicely, though I thought there was a tendency to skim the surface of certain plot lines. Although there is quite a lot going on, one tends to want even more explanation than we get. This makes me wonder if the original was a screenplay, and the book was something of an afterthought. I did enjoy these segments of American High School angst and anxiety. But the hero, if such he could be called, deserved more writing time. He and his wife are trying for a baby, but it’s leaving their sex life as a matter of rote and he conceives a passion for another woman, although that is quickly revealed to be a passing thing.

The sections all work to reveal a variety of passions and hormonal escapades as well as the course of the school presidential election. But our hero Mr M makes a fatal error in his role as overseer of the election. Bright, funny, sharp as a knife, this is an excellent read.
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2010
With this beautiful, taut novel Tom Perrotta really gets under the skin. In a way it's as much about an American high school as 'Animal Farm' is about animals. With pitch-perfect alternate narration from his carefully-drawn characters we're ostensibly here to look on at the build up to the election of the school's student President. Okay, we don't have such things here in the UK, or certainly not with its attendant build-up, but in a way, fascinating as the story is, this is just Perrotta's device for telling the real tale.

The flaws in this novel's characters are heartbreaking in both their intensity and their sheer ordinariness. At first we might think we should make allowances for teenagers who know no better but then we see that the grown-ups are just as bad - really just teenagers a bit further on in life with few lessons learnt and fewer mistakes unrepeated. For this is a story - a magnificent one - about mistaken choices, fragile decisions, avoidable errors and, above all, searing disappointments.

It is Tom Perrotta's gift to us that he lays out all this big stuff with barely a trace of levity and a beguiling and humorous love for his characters. This short book fair zips along and more than once I was reminded of that other underrated masterpiece of modern American literature, 'The Graduate', for that story too employs a gossamer sleight of hand to mask the turmoil going on underneath. And if, as I noted on here before, 'The Graduate' has the best last line of any novel, surely 'Election' has the best final paragraph.

There is so much to savour in this book: it's funny, tragic, often sad, and sometimes petty and inconsequential. Remind you of anything?
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on 28 March 1998
It's always exciting to have a new favorite author. With his third book, "Election," Tom Perrotta is firmly established as an expressive and creative writer of the highest order. One of the remarkable things about "Election," is that the narrative shifts among the main characters. It's not that the characters' versions of events conflict - the telling of the story moves from one to another effortlessly, as if the characters were trading riffs at a jam session. It's not surprising that "Election," is soon to be a film; the cuts are built-in as the perspective changes from narrator to narrator. I found it disturbing that most of the men in the story have frighteningly sexist beliefs - I kept wanting to scream at them. Eventually I admitted to myself that there are plenty of men that are really like this. A school election is at the center of this novel, and the events take place against the backdrop of the 1992 presidential campaign. Perrotta knows that we know all about the sexual shenanigans and duplicity that are taking place in the 'other' election. Sex seems to be on the minds of most of the characters, most of the time. This is a great book, and a quick read. You'll find yourself wanting to read or reread his previous books, "The Wishbones," and "Bad Haircut.
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on 3 June 1999
Tom Perrotta has written a savvy and lively account that accurately describes the hell of high school. In this book, not just high school, but a high school election, are the vehicles through which we see how self-destructive people can be, as well as how certain types of pressure often bring out the worst characteristics in people. Although Perrotta's characters are not terribly likeable, we sympathize with them because they are so human. We cannot say for sure, "I would never act like that!" Perrotta captures the pain of not being popular, the agony of teenagers who cannot find their niche in life, and the misery of adults who have lost their way. "Election" is a gem, beautifully written and an instant classic.
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on 12 August 1999
Tom Perrotta's book "Election" describes in wonderful detail the high school we all attended - complete with cliques, jocks, geeks, and teacher's pets. This novel has a biting humor that makes you laugh and cringe at the same time, and it was the basis for the recent film of the same name, which was also excellent. My only complaint is that this book is so short - I read it in 2.5 hours! The main character is Tracy Flick, a straight-A, do-gooder who will stop at nothing to win the Student Council election. The obstacles in her way are her Social Studies teacher, Mr. McAllister, and a dumb-but-nice jock, Paul Warren, who runs against her. The outcome of this election will make you laugh for days!
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on 3 September 1998
Tom Perrotta has continued his mastery with Election. The amazing thing about his novels (and collection of short stories)is that the reader is left with a sense that the characters exist outside the confines of the work, e.g., at the end of The Wishbones, you can easily imagine Dave, Glen, and Alan forming a band. The same is true of Election. Perrotta invents wonderful characters and portrays them in a way that makes them familiar. My only criticism of this book is that I had to read it too quickly. By the way, I have met Tom Perrotta, have told him how much I like his work, and found him to be a great guy...
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