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on 8 March 2013
This book is based on House Arrest, a fictional Big Brother-type reality television programme, where ten people are forced to live together, with the prospect of the last person to survive the evictions winning half a million dollars. The need to survive becomes a lot more real when one of the contestants is brutally murdered. To be honest, I was a little worried that I wouldn't like this book just because I have never enjoyed or been interested in reality television shows like this, but I found that this book highlighted all of the problems that I have with this genre of entertainment so I actually ended up enjoying it quite a lot, and it has actually got me out of my reading slump!

The plot on the whole was very intriguing because it was a very mysterious `whodunnit' that was only obvious right at the end, so the suspense was built up throughout the whole book. Even when it came to who actually got murdered, this was revealed quite far into the book. This gave the reader time to connect with some of the characters and almost establish their favourite contestant before killing one of them off. Also, the order of the chapters that are specific days in the house, are jumbled, meaning that the police in the story sometimes know less than you know as a reader. This almost makes the reader feel as though they are investigating the murder too.

I really liked some of the characters in this book but I also disliked some of them too. I think that this is mostly because of the way that the contestants are manipulated by Peeping Tom, the television company, and the influence that this has on the reader.

The writing style was very simple yet witty and easily drew me in. I managed to finish this book in one sitting because of the way it was laid out and the length of the chapters.

Overall I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars as it was really well-written and I liked the plot, but there was something missing for me the whole way through; maybe it was because I didn't like some of the characters, but there was always a very uneasy feeling throughout this novel.
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on 8 July 2002
There are many cliches in fiction, but perhaps none as familiar as the murder mystery where a group of strangers is gathered together, one is murdered, and after an eventful investigation, the detective gathers them all together to explain who did it. So much of a cliche, in fact, that few mainstream writers dare produce such a hackneyed plot any more. But Elton proves that there is life in old dog yet, as he realised the obvious ... the seeds of the cliche are being played out daily on our screen in the form of Big Brother. Merge these two together, and throw in a healthy dose of Elton's cyncism for the world of popular media, and we have a heady mixture.
The plotting and timing of the tale is flawless - with multiple flashbacks and points of view never interfering with a damn good yarn in which the reader yearns not only to find out whodunnit, but also who it was done to. The characters are caricatures, but none the worse for that. They perfectly match the sort of view we are given of the Big Brother housemates, and that is one of Elton's more serious points in a page turner which is clever, thought-provoking and above all entertaining.
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on 8 November 2001
Although I've never been a particular fan of Ben Elton I am a fan of comedy novels, whodunnits and reality T.V. and so I decided to give this book a go.
For the first half of the book I couldn't help but think that this was just a rip off of Big Brother and anyone who was an avid viewer of either of the UK series' will notice many similarities between the characters in the book and the housemates and even a couple of the things that happened in the book brought to mind things that had happened in the show. In fact, Ben Elton even says at the front of this book that it could not have been written without Andrew, Anna, Craig etc and Amma, Brian, Bubble etc.
By the time I reached the second half of the book though I was enthralled and I couldn't put it down. I really wanted to know who had done it and how it had been done. I certainly didn't expect the person who had done it to be the murderer.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick easy read. I'd have finished the book in one sitting if I hadn't had to go to work but as it was I still managed to finish it in a little over a day.
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on 31 December 2001
I think that Ben Elton has proved himself once more to be just as good a novelist as he is a comedy scriptwiter. When watching Channel 4's controversial production, Big Brother, I was filled with a desire to tell everyone why I hated it so much and how much I resented its success. Unfortunately I couldn't find the words to justify my deep felt hatred for this seemingly mind-numbing new genre of television - reality TV. The book compels me to encourage everybody I know to read this book simply because Elton has taken the sentiment right out of my mouth and articulated it expertly. Elton gives me the impression that he created this very clever murder mystery just as a vehicle to carry his opinion on programs like big brother which he knew would be shared by much of the nation. Apart from this cleverly sarcastic view such types of program, the book makes for great reading and its murder mystery theme makes it un-put-downable, for want of a better phrase. I reccomend it to anyone who wants an easy read with some amusing views on 21st century twenty-somethings.
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on 16 June 2002
I really enjoyed this book! As the story unfolded and the characters came to life, I could 'picture' in my mind, the members of the "Big Brother" house in the guise of those within "House Arrest". The mentality of the characters in the novel accurately reflected those in the real television programme and I could easily imagine such events taking place and, instead of being appalled at the sight of a murder, viewers' fascination would rise and the ratings increase. As I turned each page, the urge to find out 'whodunnit' became stronger and I found myself unable to put the book down for the last third of the book! Ben Elton at his best!
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on 8 January 2002
After really enjoying Inconceivable and the Big Brother series I thought this book had to be a winner only to be disappointed. It isn't that funny and if you're a big brother fan you can see which of the characters from the series he has used, which I thought was cheating a bit. Worth reading if you're a Ben Elton fan but don't expect the emotional rollercoaster of Inconceivable.
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on 28 November 2001
I would not say that Dead Famous is the best Ben Elton book (it'd probably be Inconceivable of Popcorn IMO) but it's still a very good and entertaining one.
In hindsight, it's not very surprising that Elton picked "Reality TV" as a subject for a book. It's very much in his line of thinking to ridicule and caricature this aspect of the entertainment business in the same way that Popcorn criticised the Hollywood hypocrisy conerning violent movies.
The scary thing is that even though the characters seem waaaay overboard anyone who's watched even a few episodes of the various Real TV shows we've seen in Europe knows that this is exactly what it's like...
The plot in itself is quite gripping, and it's really hard to put the book down once the murder has occured. The strange narration mechanism (short non-linear chapters) can be confusing at times, but overall it's a great read. Highly recommended !!!
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on 24 October 2002
I admit it, I was obsessed with Big Brother! I read this while BB3 was on in the summer, and half the fun for me was working out which of the 'real-life' contestants the characters in this book were based on!
Making the policeman leading the investigation older and 'out of touch' with pop culture and the fascination with youth that the world revolves around nowadays was an excellent touch - as a result, you can enjoy this book whether you love or loathe the reality TV phenomenon.
As to the central crime itself, I thought it was very nicely handled by Ben Elton, and the revelation was a genuine shock. Never had I imagined that the murderer was...well, I won't spoil it, just in case you're watching the late night repeat of eviction night!!
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on 25 August 2002
The book starts off a bit slowly but as soon as the murder details are given the plot really takes off. For his first crack at an out and out murder mystery novel, the execution was ingenious even if the culprit was obvious- given the social message of the book. The idea of the victim only becoming known half way through was also clever and many of the jokes are aimed at the producers of Big Brother which makes them all the more funny. Like in most of his books, the reader is left questioning society and watching reality TV will never be the same after reading the book. Overall the book was both clever and contained all of the trademark Elton humour that will have you laughing out loud. A must read for everyone that likes reality TV and for anyone who doesn't.
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on 29 December 2001
I havent read a Ben Elton book for a few years, but found this absolutely gripping and read it in under 24 hours. I read a lot of crime novels and this was a very enjoyable addition to the usual fare. I found myself picturing it all in the Big Brother house, and some of the characters seemed to match quite closely to the real life participants, which actually made it a bit easier to come to grip with all the characters quite quickly. The language was very ripe though. so if you're thinking of giving this as a gift make sure its to someone who can cope with a LOT of swearing.
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