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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 11 July 2017
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on 22 January 2010
Not hist best, but still has the little punches that Ben Elton pulls so well. Very topical and up-to-date in its basis for the story, but not as perhaps cynical as he could have been as ot the cause and on-going effects of the banking crisis. I would recommend Meltdown to Ben Elton fans, but then you're read it already haven't you! If you're not a fan then start with perhaps Popcorn, or one of the other earlier works.
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on 17 July 2016
Ben Elton books are so topical, so very much of the moment, that a year after publication they tend to have deserted Waterstones only to appear en masse in the second hand bookshops (where I bought this one)
A lot of the books have a (basically sympathetic) central male character, he is likely to be very much an ordinary bloke with an ordinary bloke’s faults for which he tends to pay dearly. He will be hopelessly in love with a woman he regards as being utterly beautiful and she may or may not return his love. There will be a pretty good plot and everything will be tied up neatly in the end.
Elton is good at family life,knob jokes, baddies (usually rabid capitalists), smart one liners, love (requited or otherwise), disasters and worrying about drinking too much. His outlook is consistent old fashioned democratic socialist (hurrah!)
This is a Ben Elton book about the financial crash. If you’ve read one about global warming or reality T.V you'll know pretty much what you’re getting.
Having said all this I do seem to carry on buying them, often if I’m facing a long train journey or flight . Having bought one I’ll then read it in one sitting. The only problem with this is on two occasions I’ve bought one I’ve read before and then not realised ‘till I’ve read the first two chapters whereupon it all comes flooding back.
So the bottom line is Elton books may be considered to be a tiny bit samey, they are nevertheless entertaining, craftsmanlike and very easy to read even if you’re sitting behind the engines. Almost makes you think you could do as well yourself…………
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on 23 March 2013
Really boring! Have given up just over half way through after slogging away conscious that I have actually spent money on it! How did this get published? Honestly not worth the paper it is written on and not worth wasting any more time or words on either
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on 23 October 2011
I'm a huge fan of Ben Elton, I'm close to owning all of his books. His offerings of the last decade have been fantastic. "Dead Famous" is an unputdownable, hilarious novel. "The First Casualty" is gripping from start to finish without the humour, and with powerful messages. And "Blind Faith" is (in my opinion) his best. And that's just a few examples.

With "Meltdown" there aren't THAT many laughs. If you're expecting a comedy you may be disappointed. His best comedy can be found in "Dead Famous" and "This Other Eden" (again, IN MY OPINION). However, there's a great deal of satire which is entertaining. This is a very poignant drama that makes you empathize with its characters. The characters are familiar and likeable, and in some cases, extremely unlikable. Either way, you should have strong feelings towards all of them. That's good writing in my eyes! You can feel the friendship they share and empathize when tragedy strikes, and it strikes a lot.

As usual, it's written concisely, which really creates pace (it follows the same chapter style as Stark and Chart Throb), to the point where if real life weren't such a disturbance, you would read all day long.

Overall I'd reccommend it strongly.
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on 16 June 2015
I read this on the train over the course of a few weeks and found the story really gripping. I'm quite new to Ben Elton as an author, but will definitely be reading more. This book is great if you're interested in politics, but also if you're not.
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on 16 March 2014
This is the first book I've heard by Ben Elton and I found myself surprisingly engaged over the weekend it took for me to get to the end of it. The plot centres around Jimmy Corby, a stock trader who, at the height of his success, is hit very hard by the credit crunch of 2008 and loses almost all of his wealth. Along the way, we also see how it affects six of his closest friends as they rise up through a huge amount of success in the 90s, only to find themselves in trouble as the topical affairs of the late 00's catch up to them as well (usually involving the collapse of the economy, but there is also a reference to the MP's Expenses scandal.)

There's a lot going for the book here. I usually enjoy hearing a real-world tale of a time that I can remember and we're not so very far away from, and this was no exception. All of the characters are flawed to the point that they're not entirely likeable to begin with; overblown caricatures of the snobbish upper-class. But however little sympathy you have for them at the start, losing all of your money is never a pleasant experience - no matter how much or little of it you have, and it is interesting to get, if not an insight, then an idea of what it was like for the people who had everything to lose it all. For Jimmy in particular, it comes across as a kind of mid-life rite of passage, as he and his wife Monica take an active role in being a mother and father to their three children for the first time without their entourage of nannies and help. They are forced to consider what is important, and what they can manage without. And there are some light, more comical moments as well, which is quite nice since the plot is quite bleak.

However, it is not without its weakness. There are holes in, not the plot itself, but certain scenes where the characters do and say things that reduce the books believability. A lot of the views that the book tries to get across appear to be overly cynical and the ending is perhaps a little bit contrived. And I did find myself wondering around half way through the book whether the description of 'The Banana,' a fictitious building in London which I can only assume is there to satirise The Shard, was put in so that Ben Elton could force in yet another nob gag (it doesn't happen too often in the book, but it is something which I've seen come up far too often in his recent work.)

The book is what it is - an idea. An idea of how the credit crunch affected those at the top. An idea of how they might have dealt with it. An idea of just how far people are willing to go in order to hang on to what they have left. And if this is an idea you're willing to explore, then I would recommend this book to you. But don't take it too seriously, or as stone cold fact. Because while parts of the story are certainly true for somebody, I doubt this is the way it all actually happened. Just enjoy it instead.
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on 12 November 2011
Some of the 1 - 2 stars are unnecessarily harsh IMO.
It's typical Elton of late but that is not a bad thing.
It is punchy and very readable, albeit very clichéd, BUT, again, that is a good thing.
A brilliant satire and Elton has a real skill of stripping down every aspect of life and inserting genuine comic touches.
Intelligent and thought provoking it isn't, but fun and enjoyable it is.
I like the descriptions of the absurdities and extravagance of the wealthy and the distorted mindset it can bring upon people. i.e., a multi millionaire designer, obsessed with creating nice packages for gifts, it's not what's in the box that counts, but the box itself! Well observed and so very true. I for one remember a silly piece of regional news about a woman with a boutique `wrapping' shop in West London making a fortune, as she had developed a `scientific' way to wrap gifts!!!! There is a real send up of this kind of thinking in Meltdown.
It also takes a good look at how hard the protagonists life becomes once he has to cut back on all the ridiculous extravagances he was once afforded.
Funny, pacey, enjoyable fun you will breeze through in days.
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on 20 August 2013
He is such a good storyteller and the lives of this group of friends is woven into a very readable book using flashback as the current-day story progresses.
The subject matter is current and the story very believable/credible.I know people knock Ben Elton now as being a sell-out to his lefty roots, but it is still there in his writing, without being forced down your throat.
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on 10 May 2012
I have read most of his books and, unfortunately, I think they are getting worse, badly written, predictable characters; this one was just phoned in and is just a vehicle to express his own political ideologies which seem slightly(!) watered down from the Ben in the Thatcher years. It's a shame because I loved Stark, Popcorn and Gridlock but I will think twice about trying another one. Sorry.
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