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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 June 2008
If you've read The Cheese Monkeys and you liked it, you'll definitely like this, because it just follows on from where that novel left off. Which is, on the whole, a good thing.

It means that for those of us who are graphic designers, we get to read the second novel (okay maybe there are more but I don't know about them) about a graphic designer. That's pretty cool for designers. If you're not a designer then I don't think it matters since designers probably read novels about policemen quite happily.

Having said that, The Learners doesn't just happen to be about a graphic designer. Since it's also written (and designed) by a graphic designer, there's quite a lot of stuff in it about graphic design that borders on the educational. You may learn something about typefaces.

Back to the story: it's about a guy called Happy, who appears to have no romantic or sexual interest in any of the other characters, which is a bit odd. In fact, this book doesn't deal with sex at all except for about three pages when it still doesn't, not really.

It's actually mostly about the main character's reaction to an experiment he takes part in to test how much one human will hurt another if told to by somebody they trust. It's based on an experiment that really did take place in the 1950s.

The setting is the best part of the book though: a small designer's office in New Haven, the sort of place that doesn't exist in today's world of identikit offices. Instead of Project desk systems, there are poky offices with glass doors and polished wood, rolls of paper, the smell of ink, eccentric people and general cosy confusion. That's very well portrayed.

But the story seems a bit thin and kind of there just to hang all the graphic designer stuff on, all the clever stuff the (very clever) author wants to tell us in a that slightly cutesy post Salinger style he adopts that could get annoying but which I happen to like.

I don't know whether everyone would like it, but I loved it.

And the cover artwork is, as you'd expect, superb.
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on 18 January 2014
It took me a long time to get around to Chip Kidd's sequel (of sorts) to his earlier novel, The Cheese Monkeys, so by the time I did (and wanting a hardcover) I did not really want to pay much for it. This seller had just what I was looking for, though I confess I'm a little let down with all the library markage. Still, for the price it is in very good condition, and at least the library dust cover wrapping will remain in pristine condition.
The book itself is even better than I could have expected, being as it is the continuation of the tale of graphic designer (and Chip Kidd proxy) Happy as he begins his career. He gets tangled up in a famous (real) psychology experiment and it has somewhat predictable impact on his outlook.
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