Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
on 14 April 2011
I desperately wanted to like this book and from reading the synopsis and reviews I genuinely expected to. Unfortunately I was sadly disappointed.
The book revolves around the central character Brian and his introduction to university life. He has a difficult relationship with his mother (following the death of his father), interesting old school friends who pop up throughout the book and a complete ineptness with girls (and people in general). This ineptness is played out through his pursuit of Alice, the glamorous blonde wannabe actress, and his friendship with...was it Rebecca(?) the sassy scottish punk. Brian also has a slightly unhealthy obsession with wanting to be on University Challenge which is a running theme througout the book. I know what you're thinking...how could this possibly not have produced a 5* read.....
My main problem with the book is that I just couldn't stand Brian! I spent the whole book cringing, which I imagine is what the author intended. However, I think it all got taken a bit too far to the point where Brian had no redeeming features left! I also didn't enjoy Alice as a character either. She just didn't seem to have the same depth of character as say Emma in One Day. On a positive note, I did enjoy the more peripheral characters of Rebecca, Brian's Mum, the captain of the University Challenge team etc. I thought these were incredibly well written, my issue was with Brian himself! I know some people struggled with the character of Dex in One Day (not myself out of interest). However, if this is you, then I don't imagine that you will be Brian's biggest fan.
David Nicholls writes brilliantly as ever and his references to the 80s were subtle enough to conjure up a feeling of nostalgia without it becoming tacky. Unfortunately, his main characters let him down on this one for me.