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3.5 out of 5 stars
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3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 November 2006
This offering was substandard to say the least. First of all Elton's attempt at preaching to his reader is artless and unsubtle. Entire paragraphs are dedicated to pointing out the abuses of the automotive industry, or how bad cars are for the environment, without any attempt to be witty or relevant to the plot. The book therefore amounts to mediocre humour interspersed with letters to the editor. Secondly, there are several Americans in the book who sound extremely British and use expressions and terms no American would ever use. Instead Elton relies on crude characterisations of American oil-company baddies with British vocab. Lastly (and I do acknowledge my own pedantry here) the book was FULL of mistakes, particularly punctuation but also grammatical. I found this extremely irritating and distracting. I wanted to take out a red pen, correct the mistakes, and send it back to the publisher with a note suggesting their editors actually make themselves useful. I am so glad this book was lent to me and that I didn't spend any money on it.
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on 28 May 2004
Having read a few of Ben Eltons books, and enjoying them immensely, I was expecting the same from Gridlock. After a few dozen pages I realised that there was something different about this book. I found the humour didn't strike the right cord with me. If anything the humour irritated me. It was almost an overdone Black Adder type humour. Its one of Eltons earlier books (1991), I think, and can only assume that he hadn't got out of his Black Adder/Young Ones phase. However it was a good story, and a half decent book, it just wasn't as satisfying a read as 'Popcorn', 'Dead Famous' or 'High Society', which I enjoyed much more.
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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2004
I love Ben Eltons books. When shopping for holiday books i found it hard to decide between this one and 'This other eden'. I'm so glad i bought the latter! I went on holiday to find this avaliable on the campsite to borrow. It was ok, not the worst book i have ever read but i had such high expectations. Only the last few pages of the book reminded me of the Ben Elton i was used to reading. In the end, if you really want to read this then it would probably be best if you borrowed it at the library.
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on 28 August 2009
I finished the book - only because I was stuck on a plane with little else to do.

This must rank as one of the worst books I have ever read - despite Ben Elton's obvious talent.

The plot is silly, the action is just not credible, the characters were one dimensional and the style was irritating.

I enjoyed "First Casualty". In that book, perhaps Mr Elton moved away from the superficial to something serious, and was successful there.

"Gridlock" must have been bought by a publisher as they knew that the Author's name would sell copies, whatever the quality. If he'd submitted this anonymously, it would certainly have ended up, quite correctly, in the bin.
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VINE VOICEon 22 January 2002
Although very funny in places, and tackling very important issues, this is not an amazingly well written book. Apart from glaring grammar glitches and the like, Elton sometimes gets bogged down in the (extremely important) moralizing which gives the book a somewhat disjointed feel. Perhaps more judicious editing would have been in order. The sort of book you read once and then pass on.
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on 25 May 2007
I actually retrieved this book from my bookshelf thinking that it was one of those many books I have purchased over the years but never had time to read. Rather ironically, considering the subject matter of the book, I now find myself commuting to work by train, and have time to catch up on my reading. It was not until about a dozen or so pages into it that I found myself thinking that there something was familiar, and realized that I had read the book before but could not really remember much about it. Not a good start I thought to myself - must be a great read if I cant remember it! But I needn't have worried, Ben Elton is at his witty best with this book.

First let me say, I am an Ben Elton fan. I absolutely love Elton's obtuse and over the top descriptions. To my mind they are some of the funniest aspects of his writing, and this book abounds in them. Along with witty one liners and some very descriptive physical humour for good measure, this book excels. I actually found myself apologising to people for laughing out loud on the train or in the lunch room at work. Fortunately, I was reading at home at one point in the book which caught me so violently by surprise that I actually swore out loud too.

The hero's of the story are fleshed out enough that you feel an empathy toward them, especially when you realise that they were not what you expected, with their differences introduced almost as an aside, which makes them all the more attention grabbing.

My only criticism, and it is a very personal one, is that I was reading this book as someone who moved from Suffolk to the Australian "bush", and grew up with the nearest town of any size being almost 200km away, with non existant public transport. I have always seen the car as the very symbol of freedom that Elton was trying to dissuade us from. I couldn't help thinking that some of the critisism was unfounded, or at least quite subjective.

All in all though, I loved reading this book (again), and would happily recommend it.
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on 28 December 1999
This book was a series of many twisting turning events, provoking thought! He lets you only see part of the whole at any one time, and you have to stick with it to fully appreciate the genius that went into writing this. In spite of this, it is a relaxing, enjoyable read.
It is a long book, but it is worth it. As with much of Ben Elton's material, it is not only designed to be funny, but also informative. Much of "Gridlock" is very insightful. The leading character, as he is not physically like Mr. Elton, has an insight that I would have assumed that would have only come from a person in a similar predicament. But he is only one example of this skill, and "Gridlock" is full of other, similar examples.
The book is slow to start, but if it had started any quicker, then the whole suspense would be lost, and the character personalities would not be explored. Ben's sharp wit means that the characters feel very "real". The middle of the book is very much giving the plot some depth. It adds under-currents and over-tones that seem almost irrelevant at the time. Then the conclusion leaves you guessing and re-guessing as to what is going to happen. This adds tension, confusion Mr. Elton does not leaving any "lose ends", which when considering the plot, is an impressive job. He even brings in undercurrents at this late stage, and still deals with them admirably!
Definitely a good buy, if you like your thought being challenged and you like a successful mix of intelligent and crass humour!
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on 20 May 2016
Whimsical characters and over the top action set in a world that feels all too real and too boring, it's a clash of comic book antics and preachy reality and it doesn't work. It's a long novel but I ploughed through it on holiday. While I certainly did laugh at some of the jokes and did on occasion feel the need to open the book two or three times a day the ending came about so suddenly that I spent the last twenty pages wondering if someone had forgotten to print the whole book. Once I was done I forgot that I'd even read it, and all the time I'd spent staring at the pages seemed to vanish like the hours of my life spent in traffic jams.
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on 14 July 2008
Having read a handful of Ben Elton's other offerings, I looked forward to another extrapolation of human behaviour full of believable characters and peppered with humour. Boy was I disappointed.

In Gridlock, Mr Elton is very clearly still learning his craft and has yet to distinguish the less than subtle differences between scripting his stand up show and writing a novel. There is the germ of a good idea, but it is ruined by his constant sidetracking in to either a moralist lecture or a semi-humorist aside in the `ranty' style for which his 80's stage act was well known. His characters are stereo types with perhaps one notable expectation, unfortunately rather than allow this single well rounded character to teach us the lessons the author has acutely observed the public could do with learning, he cannot resist lecturing us on the prejudice of society and by implication our own short sightedness and therefore I suspect alienates those he thought he would reach. The overuse of shock tactics, in the language, the descriptions of the action, the storyline and in the statistics quoted during the lecture sections assume a total lack of intelligence and in the end numb the reader to the point of ceasing to care about the book and the cause.

Ben Elton is a surprisingly good author, but from this offering, you would not guess it. Unless you are a particularly blinkered, sub intelligent, car hoarder - you will likely find this book irritatingly patronising. Put it down and read Inconceivable or Dead Famous instead.
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on 18 August 2006
I'm judging this book irrespective of Elton's stand-up, which is certainly not to everybody's liking. Elton likes to talk about subjects irrespective of social taboo, so much so that it might make you feel a little uncomfortable at times. His literary satire is incredibly well observed though and through it he makes some good points about the thoughtless attitudes that are proliferated throughout society. Gridlock is all about cars; our ridiculous reliance upon and reverence of a machine which is supposed to be a symbol of human liberty, but is actually more of a tin can confinement. It's message is a little bit on the green side and one may get a little tired of a writing style that seems, at times, to try too hard to be funny. But a highly imaginative plotline, loveable underdog characters and a few gems of satirical wisdom kept me turning the pages. I've read a few of Elton's books, but his older stuff (namely this title and `Stark') is undoubtedly the best.
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