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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 August 2007
Before reading this book, all my exposure to Ben Elton was in the form of 'Blackadder' and 'The Thin Blue Line' and as such i was expecting Elton's novels to be approaching the same quality. How wrong I was.

On screen Elton's words are hilarious, on paper he seems incapable of humour. He makes occasional attempts but they just aren't funny. The plot is meaningless and the characters are dull. The book is incredibly slow with pointless flashbacks giving fragmented images of uneventful lives.

The inevitable twist in the tail is obscenely unrealistic yet at the same time totally predictable, and although the pace quickens in the last 15 pages it does not justify the other 250 in which the storyline stagnates through a couple of mundane, uneventful hours.

Elton writes the political debates that the two main characters share as if they were well prepared speeches rather than heated and impassioned expressions of their principles. The dialogue is far too eloquent to pull off the spontaneity of argument and it seems almost as if Elton is merely showing off his literary ability. These debates are incredibly repetitive. The contradiction of the two characters political stance is a major theme and these conflicts of principal quickly become wearisome as they never develop the plot further.

In what appears to be a desperate effort to flesh out the book Elton creates a stalker character called Peter who plays a very small part in the plot and who's existence in the story seems somewhat pointless. With the characterisation of Peter, Elton once again seems to be parading his limited abilities.

'Blast from the Past' is supposed to be a 'maturation' of Elton as a novelist - a step beyond his agenda-based previous work into a more open minded genre. What is created is not interesting either as a story nor as an exploration of opposing political viewpoints.
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on 15 April 2010
I started this book on a plane journey once, many years ago. I think the person next to me fell asleep and left it on their tray and I thought why waste a good opportunity to read!

The start is very interesting as you are trying to figure who is who, and where this story is likely to lead.

As I recall, the book owner woke up at one point and was more than happy to allow me to carry on reading. As the plane came into land, they even said that I could borrow it and return it to them by post... Probably because they must have been in the middle of the book at that time!

The middle meanders and seems to take too long to get through. That's always my worry about reading or watching a 'situational comedy' - will it have the legs to go the distance?

I started to suspect the twist towards the end, but I was gripped again and enjoyed the climax.

I came across my copy in the window of a charity shop a few days ago. Worth the 50p? Just about. I don't think it has aged well, so much has changed in the world since this book was written and because of the characters, you are constantly reminded of that change and it becomes difficult to fully immerse yourself into it.

I also have a confession to make... I couldn't remember where I'd left off all those years ago, so I started from the beginning!
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on 23 January 2006
If you like a good story-dont bother. If you like well rounded characters-dont bother. If you like a good ending-dont bother.
If you like plot twists-dont bother. If you're idea of a good book is something you can read in 3 or 4 hours without taxing your intellect then go for it. This is such a poor book. I have never written one of these reviews before, despite having read some excellent, indifferent and shockingly bad books in my time, but this one was so poor I felt compelled. I got this book in a job lot and as it was sitting gathering dust I thought I'd give it a go-not having read any of Ben Elton's books before but admiring his comedy writing in the past. There is very little point to this book, the story is wafer-thin. The characters are all cardboard cutouts with no depth whatsoever and appeared to change their patterns of speech and vocabulary at will, making them wholly unconvincing. The plot is extremely predictable, making the twists as twisty as a straightedge and the ending is truly terrible. The book is not even particualrly well written. It appeared that the story couldve been written in 10 pages. It was all filler no killer.
Elton could have indeed summed this book up himself in his script for blackadder goes forth when edmund reviews baldricks poem "the german guns":
It started badly, tailed off in the middle and the least said about the ending the better! Indeed Elton himself seemed all to happy to recyle his own old stand up gags at various inappropriate points.
I can only wonder if it was not for the name of the author, would this have been deemed worthy of publication at all??
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on 14 December 1998
I am a great fan of Ben Elton having read every one of his books and always anticipating the next. However, Blast From the Past was a huge dissapointment. Was it ghost written?! Read every other Ben Elton book but not this one...sorry Ben!
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on 5 August 2011
My significant other said he was pretty sure I'd like this book so I gave it a go. The main characters are a bit improbable for a romance - a teenage Greenham Common peacenik and a high ranking US army officer in his 30s. Set in the present day with a sub plot of Polly's stalker - the Bug, we are taken back to the 80s when they met and then back to the present. I don't think Ben Elton's grammar and prose is the best but I found the story hugely readable - notably on a fairly long flight to the Canaries. It was on the flight I said "oh my God, I was not expecting that" - and Mr Significant said "Oh there's more to come yet" and how right he was! I didn't predict the ending either so all in a jolly good read to take on holiday.
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on 14 February 1999
A Blast from the Past takes you on a journey filled with the most urgent contemporary debates. He explores the whole spectrum of existence ranging from the private, deepest subconsious, to the most unapologetic public exposure. His sensitive understanding of the most complex behaviour underlines every situation he invents, from people, to institutions, to the government. The suspense in this story had me squirming in my seat. Ultimatly it is his superb rythm and timing which carry this passionate tale of fate and destiny to its end. Wicked. Superb.
On the negative side:... nothing I can think of, if this is what Ben Elton came up with, then thats what I'm happy reading. Can't wait for the next one.
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on 24 May 2011
The first few pages of this book will keep you turning and you won't stop until it's finished.
When Polly awakes in the middle of the night to her telephone ringing, her first reaction is panic. 'Who would be calling at 2.15am with good news?' she asks herself. Which I think is always a natural reaction.

Before she knows it she's standing in her small flat with her very own blast from the past. Much to the displeasure of the man waiting outside her house. Peter is Polly's stalker and he can't help himself but wonder who is visiting Polly at such an hour.
This book will make you laugh, make you cry, scare you silly and best of all; keep you guessing until the very end.
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on 18 November 2014
I've read a few of Ben Eltons books now and this was one of his more 'iffy' novels I have to say. The plot takes place over the course of one evening, and while there are a few moments to keep you hooked to the story, I found myself skim reading quite a lot of it.
There is a slight twist at the end which was not predictable. In fact, more the opposite and completely unbelievable. Having said that, it did make me open my mouth with shock. Whether it was good or bad shock I'm not too sure!
Overall, I did enjoy the book and would recommend to fans of Ben Elton, however, there are much better books of his out there.
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on 4 August 1999
Easy to read and quite gripping. All of the action takes place, with flashbacks, in a single room during a single night so you can easily visualise it as a stage play. Having said that, the plot is quite thin and very predictable. If you haven't guessed what Jack Kent is up to long before the end, you haven't been paying attention. Polly is a bit of a cypher, and even Ben Elton should know that it is illegal for her to work for the same local authority in which she is an elected member.Does not compare with 'Stark' or 'Popcorn'.
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on 14 July 1999
This is an easy read straight from the beginning - the story is based around the life of a young woman who had a brief affair with an American officer whilst a teenage peace protester at Greenham Common. Fifteen years later he comes back into her life with unforseen consequences! I wasn't able to put this book down, and its the most gripping book I've read since Robert Harris's "Fatherland." It may not be a literary masterpiece, but who cares? Just read it.
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