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on 15 May 2003
This is an entertaining story about three 17 year old boys, each of whom have their own problems when it comes to their sex lives. Being 17, these problems are uppermost in their minds (and in any case, how could they ignore what certain parts of their anatomy are telling them?).
The characters are easy to identify with, most of us will recognise them from our own schooldays. The style of the book makes it easy to read, and the plot draws you along: although maybe I would say it is more well written popular soap than classic serial. The author shows a great deal of empathy with his characters and the problems they experience, and the language seemed about spot on to me. In other words, the book was, I felt, realistic and set in a world a lot will recognise. It seems clear that the author wanted to set teenage readers thinking about their lives, rather than preach to them about the right way to behave.
I personally don't think this will be a medal winner, but that isn't to detract from it being a good read. I also think this unashamed/explicit/relevant (delete depending on your viewpoint) book might appeal to those teenagers who perhaps aren't drawn by many of the teenage titles on the market. Of course, the aim is to interest boys, although I don't think girls will feel left out.
I don't want to give away the plot, but I think it would be reasonable to say that issues covered include a pupil having an affair with his teacher, attempted suicide, image conciousness, parent's separation, a girl who will, a boy who won't, a cancer scare, shoplifting, and many, many attempts to have sex! As you can see, a busy book!
Who is this book for? Well I guess anybody aware of the hype/debate will want to know this! I think most teenagers at 14 will not find the contents shocking or the language unusual, although many of their parents probably will. In short: your view on this will depend on whether you think books for teenagers should reflect the world in which many of them live, or whether you think the books should reflect a moral tone which needs to be put across. Read the book, decide for yourself!
The book may not be an award winner, but I think it will encourage debate. Hopefully it will encourage some new readers too.
(NB the book does contain strong language and explicit themes)
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on 15 June 2007
As a female reader, this book was fascinating to me as a 'snapshot' of teenage boys' thinking processes. I laughed and screwed up my face as the boys talked about their girlfriends to each other in an extremely derogatory way, and yet all of them were terrified of the girls finding out they had behaved like this! All the boys have problems of their own - each is keeping a secret that he can't possibly share with anyone. Unlike girls, who tell each other everything (often to their own detriment, as such secretc can be used against them later), boys use words to impress each other and thus boost their own standing within the group - words that may not necessarily be true and are certainly unlikely to reflect their true feelings.

The book is written in shifting points of view and alternately in past and present tense - a style that does hold the interest (as each chunk is short and quick to read) but also makes it difficult to keep caring about the overall story.

I would have given this book three stars but for the storyline involving Ben, who is sleeping with his teacher. I thought this storyline showed excellently how an older (emotionally damaged) woman could manipulate a younger man in a sexual situation. And how that seventeen-year-old would feel trapped because, to all intents and purposes, he is living every boy's fantasy - even though it's turned sour.

The book is explicit but not unnecessarily so. An interesting and insightful read.
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on 21 May 2003
Although I had seen some of the adverse publicity surrounding Doing It I was determined not to let it affect my opinion. Although the idea behind the story is a good one, the way it is written is questionable. Lots of swearing and sexual references don't make up for a bad story. Unlike Junk which also touches upon a delicate subject this one seems to have been written to shock and not to show off his writing skills. I'm not quite sure who this is aimed at but under 16's would just giggle and over 16's would be bored. In his attempt to be "cool" Burgess is in danger of alienating his target audience.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 February 2008
According to Burgess, he wrote this, his third YA (young adult) book because, "I do believe that we have let young men down very badly in terms of the kinds of books written for them. This book is my go at trying to bring young male sexual culture into writing." I'm not sure I really buy the premise that teenage boys are lacking in representations of their "sexual culture," it may just be that they are located in film (from Porky's to American Pie to Superbad) rather than books. I'm pretty sure that one could make the reverse statement about teenage girls and film -- but whatever the case, one thing I have noticed as a casual reader of teen lit is that over the last ten years,YA authors and publishers have been increasingly heading for edgier and more controversial terrain.

This story definitely fits that mold, as it revolves around the sex lives of three 17-year-old boys in England and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to graphic language or description (albeit in British slang that American parents may not find as objectionable). It's not exactly breaking news that teenage boys are obsessed with sex, and what Burgess does here is try to give expression to that. While it does succeed in fits and starts, the story is more notable for how boring it generally is, and how soap-operaish the plotlines are, than it is for breaking any kind of new ground. The first 1/4 to 1/3 of the book is especially tedious as Burgess labors to set up Dino (incredibly handsome and dating the school babe), Ben (apparently hapless with the girls, but secretly having crazy sex with a 20-something drama teacher), and Jon (the loudmouth with a crush on a slightly chubby girl). After this tedious setup, the book finally gets going as Dino encounters increasing frustration in his attempt to lose his virginity, Ben encounters increasing distress as his secret sex life, and Jon encounters increasing distress as his attraction to the chubby girl.

Unfortunately there's just not that much that's interesting. Gee, guys have anxieties about sex too? Shocking! Guys talk and joke about sex all the time in great detail? Shocking! I guess it's nice that the main characters express a range of attitudes, from Dino's extreme horndog duplicity to Ben's implausibly maturity, to Jon's aching obsession with how others will perceive his relationship with chubby Debbie. Similarly, the women evoke a range of sexuality, from pretty Jackie's on-again, off-again desire to "do it" with Dino, to Debbie's good-natured good-time attitude, to the teacher's sick emotional and physical manipulation, to a fourth girl's utilitarian attitude. But too many of the characters sounds too much alike, and like many YA books, they are generally a touch too self-aware to be realistic.

Ultimately, the book just isn't interesting or good enough to warrant the controversy it seems to have sparked (at least in England). Perhaps the most telling verdict is that it was the basis for an ABC teen series that lasted all of one year.
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on 23 June 2004
This book was probably written for teenagers but it's perhaps easier to empathise with (and laugh at) the characters - 3 testosterone-fuelled, sex-desperate seventeen year old boys - from the More Mature angle (she says at 24 putting on her horn-rimmed glasses), looking back on one's teenage years in absolute horror and sniggering at things which seemed oh-so-important ten years ago.
Yes, the book is about sex. Lots of it. Graphic sex. But it is also about first love/crushes, peer pressure, and above all (and rather joyously) about good friendship. At the end of the book it is friendship which triumphs above sex, lust, and anything else.
Dino is the "golden boy" of the group, desperate to lose his virginity, with his eyes set on Jackie who teases him. Jonathan is annoyed and worried by his feelings for his friend Deb - she is lovely, but she's *fat*. How can he hold his cool and go out with a *fat* girl? Ben is carrying on a secret affair with his drama teacher - but the schoolboy fantasy soon turns into a nightmarish reality.
"Doing It" is horribly, fantastically believable. It's a great rollicking read, like Jilly Cooper for boys, but whatever your age you'll find it addictive and cheering for the lovable characters.
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on 21 May 2003
ther has been alot of controversy surrounding this book, even going as far as calling it "child porn". But it is all utterly ridiculous and clearly the people who criticise this book have forgotten what it is like to be 16 or 17, or were never that age. Certainly it is written for THIS generation of teenagers, which are different to older generations but being 29 I did identify with it and it was exactly how my teenagehood was!
Jon, Dino, and Ben are all trying to have sex. Jon with the "fat girl in school", Dino with his girlfriend, and Ben successfully with a teacher. Jon matures, Ben is mature and Dino - well we all know Dino will still be a "lad" at 40 and think its funny.
Far from being pornographic and misogynistic, this book is funny, relevant, and entirely modern. whats more - it is REAL.
And for the worry mongers out there - condoms are used, theres even one on the cover lest we forget!
Loved this book!
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on 13 May 2003
I'm surprised to find myself writing the first review on this title, especially as I am not in the target age range the author had in mind. Having heard the outraged opinions of a lady interviewer on the radio concerning this title, I thought I'd see for myself whether I found it to be as dirty and immoral as the interviewer suggested. Well, it is and it isn't. Certainly I tired of the swear words that litter each page, not through any sense of shock or indignation, but because such language quickly becomes tiresome through overuse and lacking in impact. It is ugly to read and indicative of a dearth of vocabulary. But the author was only trying to reflect the language in common parlance amongst many teenagers today, so I do not criticise him for that. Ignoring the 'F' words therefore, what are we left with? A surprisingly sensitive and amusing account of the worries and sexual obsessions of three teenagers which, far from being immoral, revealed the vulnerabilities of the main characters. I'm neither a teenager nor male so I can't say whether or not the author captured the true torments of boys of that age, but he did succeed in creating ultimately sympathetic portraits of the 'heroes'. The girls were perhaps a little less convincing, but again the author managed to convey their characters in a compelling manner. There's plenty of humour (probably more obvious to an adult) which made me laugh aloud.
I'm hiding the book from my ten-year-old daughter (who has been forbidden to look for it) for a few years as it is clearly inappropriate for anyone below the age of puberty, but I look forward to hearing her reaction to it when she is of a suitable age to read it.
I've given a three-star rating as a kind of 'neutral' grading. I'd probably give it a higher mark, but feel that the target readership (say, 14-18?) may have different views.
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on 4 March 2010
Dino really fancies fit, sexy Jackie, but she just won't give him what he wants; Jonathan likes Deborah, but she's a bit fat - what will his mates say? Ben's been secretly shagging his teacher for ages. He used to love it, but what if he wants to stop? Three lads discovering sex for the first time. But do any of them really know what they're doing?

This was such an awesome book! I can't recommend it enough! All teenage girls should read it, it's the book all girls are looking for, because we get to understand what's going on inside blokes' heads! It's also seriously funny, too!

The book is written in both third person and first person, with first person being from each of the three 16-17-year-old boys' point of view in a pretty conversational type way, with their personality shining through. They're my favourite parts of the book, because they are just so funny; the insights into these boys minds, exactly what they're thinking, it's enlightening!

It's quite an explicit book during the sex scenes, and the language the boys use isn't dumbed down, so anyone choosing to read should know they won't be protected. Saying this, it's so very life like; the boys are crude and may seem somewhat disrespectful, but all three of them are likable in their own way. They all have problems they need to deal with, and as you learn more about them and what's going on in their lives, you come to like them.

As you're in the heads of these boys, you understand them. Meaning you understand their behaviour. Sometimes, the boys can be right gits who need a slap, but in some of these cases, it doesn't seem all that bad what they do, it seems to make sense - at least it did to me.

I liked all three of the boys in the story, but mainly Jonathon. He is perhaps the most childish out of them all, and gets quite scared and confused in the novel, and it's just so funny. What I did love most about this book is that it showed boys are as much confused by and scared of relationships and sex as girls, and worry too. It was awesome to see these teenage boys, who normally seem so alien, being, well, normal.

Such an awesome book, really! If you're not a fan of bad language or crude terminology, I implore to forget that you're not and give this book a go. It really is just so awesome! I absolutely loved it. One, among many, I'll be keeping hold of for my own children if I have any in the future.
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on 5 June 2012
My fourteen year old daughter asked me to purchase this book for her, as she enjoys reading books about teenage love stories and boys, so I wasn't at all shocked by the title 'doing it'. I was looking for an easy read and read the book after her telling me it was brilliant and I may actually like it. It throws you into the mindset of the three teenage boys straight away, and so you have to prepare yourself for the 'naughty language and details' throughout the whole book. Despite many people saying that it is a little too explicit, I think it is great! Yes, of course, there are some slightly 'cringey' uses of language in there, but it is realistic and lets face it- it is exactly the way a teenage boy thinks and acts. As a mother of two teenagers, one being a sixteen year old lad, I know that this book tells no lies about the mind of an adolescent male. I've often heard my son and his mates talking about girls with sometimes the most vile attitudes, and it takes a lot for me to not run in and tell them to stop being so disgusting, but that's just the way they are wether we like it or not. It certainly gave my daughter a clearer view of boys, but thankfully she wasn't too shocked as she said that most of the boys at her school are exactly the same!

A fantastic read! I would reccomend it for any teenager/young adult for an easy read and a bit of a giggle.
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on 10 May 2004
It's definitely one for older teenagers - even though my 12 year old sister would be perfectly capable of reading it, I don't think I'd been keen for her to.
Having said that, it's an amusing, accurate story of four boys first discovering sex ... or at least trying to. It shows the intensity of those days and the terror that everyone else is doing it so you really should, as well as the power games that develop.
The characters aren't the most well rounded ones I have come across, but it is a good read for adults as well as older teenagers.
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