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4.6 out of 5 stars
49
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 July 2014
A very unique writing style. I'm very impressed with the effort and skill that went into this book as well as the great story
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on 8 March 2004
A really witty, clever book.
I don't read much, in fact I've probably only read around 30 books my entire life. That's less that 1 a year! But I loved this; so much so that I gave it to a friend who is more or less cranially challenged and they loved it so much that they tried to move to Nollop.
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on 21 May 2011
This book was recommended to me by a friend who had found it quite 'quirky'. I began to doubt whether my assessment would be as favourable early on in the book, and as I slogged on my fears were sadly confirmed.

To begin with, the whole novel is nauseatingly twee. In one interview I read, Dunn professed his aim was to write a critique of totalitarianism which younger children could engage with without being put off by the darkness or violence of the theme. The unfortunate consequence of this laudable venture is that `Ella Minnow Pea' fails to deliver to either audience: I doubt that younger readers would have the willpower to continue deciphering the book as more and more letters disappear, and anyone hoping for a meatier treatment of the theme is, I fear, bound to be irritated when all they unearth is an unbearable wetness of character and dialogue and a clumsy swipe at authoritarianism. If nothing else, Dunn has surely succeeded in writing the most saccharine political satire ever penned; in particular, the sickly romantic sub-plot reads like some sort of bizarre dystopian Mills & Boon. The whole experience was strangely similar to how I imagine choking on candy-floss might feel.

I think the real problem with the book is that it is fatally hampered by its very concept of `progressive lipography' - the exercise of writing without use of certain letters. Dunn amplifies this concept to the absurd, and by shedding so many letters as he progresses limits his ability to hold our interest and advance the story. I imagine that it is already difficult when using the epistolary form to hold the reader's attention over a whole novel, and so Dunn's gimmicky concept (which I wouldn't trust to sustain a couple of chapters, never mind a whole novel) only makes his task even harder. I found it a dull read, lacking in characterisation, setting and emotional depth: in other words, all the things that I expect from an enjoyable book.

To top matters off, I have a habit of noting down any words that I encounter whilst reading that I do not understand: when I returned to this list with my dictionary - having dutifully finished the book and put it to rest with considerable relief - I discovered that Dunn had made many of these words up. Inventiveness with vocabulary is obviously not always a bad thing, but, lo-and-behold, this book was continuing to annoy me from beyond the grave.

It is not a long book, but because of its aforementioned features it requires a disproportionate effort to read which is not rewarded. Lovers of wordplay may find something here; regrettably, the only thing it provoked in me was a wish I had spent my time on something else.
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on 27 February 2010
A superb fable about totalitarianism and the power of words. I raced through it in a single evening.
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on 3 September 2006
L M N O P ! To start with - what a clever title! A very original concept for this book. How difficult it must have been to write a story and gradually stop using some of the letters in our alphabet. The story is of the people of Nollop and what happens when the monument to Nevin Nollop starts losing letters. Nevin Nollop is their highly revered author of the sentence 'the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'. As the letters begin to fall the council ban anyone from using them - in their speech, writing or reading, which leads to all the books in their library being burnt! How they react is highly entertaining but at times also scary as some of the punishments for using the fallen letters are rather extreme! A great read that I finished in one evening. This book is sure to become a talking point in many book circles.
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on 1 October 2014
Can't say this is a book I would ever read again, but it was an interesting read all the same.
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on 28 January 2010
This is a terrific book. Very entertaining and clever. I recommend it without any hesitation!
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on 1 September 2014
An excellent short read, very satirical and witty. As expected creative use of language!
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on 30 September 2002
A very clever play with words and letters, both spoken and written, which made for a light but enjoyable read.
If I was an English teacher this is one I would think would be good to read with, say, year 8 to get them to think about language and how it works and controls our expression of thoughts and ideas.
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on 30 December 2016
A very clever book, I really enjoyed it
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