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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 26 May 2017
I bought this as I've loved his other books. What an irritating read it was. The characters are so unlikeable and the premise so unlikely. I wanted to punch Jess myself. I finished it and thought thank goodness for that. I wonder if he Had to write this book for a deal or something?? Don't bother with this one.
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on 18 April 2006
This is a very bold book, but Hornby pulls it off with minimalist simplicity and drollness. The tale, about suicide and hopelessness, that unfolds is a curious and impulsive one. An odd quartet of suicidals becomes a kind of surrogate family; each individual makes a move at creating a bearable future, while constantly getting on each other's nerves. Hornby retains a lovely comic undertone. Life is worth living
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on 20 July 2006
Thought provoking novel about four strangers who find themselves on the roof of a block of flats on New Years Eve. Rather than jumping from this notorious suicide spot, they all come down and form a sort of informal self-help group as they try to rebuild their lives. The four - a disgraced TV presenter, tragically sad middle-aged single mother who has devoted her life to her disabled son, failed rock star and fowl-mouthed teen - have little in common but form an unspoken bond.

Hornby's novel is excellent in that it is moving at times and offers some hope without lapsing into sentimentality - everything is not resolved at the end. Bringing up plenty of other thought provoking issues as it proceeds, it is a real page-turner. The flow is aided by its format with each of the four telling the story in turn for a few pages at a time. Very effective as is the whole story. A superb novel.
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on 10 September 2007
This is the first Nick Hornby book I've read, and it's fair to say that it probably wasn't the best place to start. I've heard good things about the author before but this book infuriated me far too much. I did have a few laugh out loud moments, but not as many as I hoped, and while the premise had the potential for some great observations on the bleaker side of human nature it was largely wasted. The use of 4 seperate first person naratives just managed to annoy me as did the plain stupidy of the characters. Maybe it allows for more humour but I just found myself having no care for their outcomes and therefore the ending of the book.
From reading some truly great novels over the last few years you realise its a poor writing to continously state the obvious, but in this book it's common place, so much so that I felt I was being talked down to. Maybe I'm missing the point slightly, but if Hornby adopts a similar writing style for all his novels then in future he's an author I'm going to stay clear of.
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on 31 May 2006
I loved Hornby's previous work, including High Fidelity and Fever Pitch - both delightful books in different ways, so the fact that this book is so terrible really surprised me.

Why is it so bad?

Well, firstly the characters, they are bland, predictable, stereotypical, unbelievably dull and so one-dimensional it's unreal. Their dialogue is contrived and extremely poor. Secondly, the plot, well what exists of a plot, as it is paper thin, and is extremely obvious as to what's going to happen. The premise for the book sounded quite entertaining, but has been butchered into something that is actually painful to read. Allegedly the book also has `funny' moments - well I'm afraid I found nothing funny in this book whatsoever.

The best thing about this book was finishing it and knowing I would never have to look at it again.

I cannot stress enough how bad the book is, it's total dross, and you should avoid even if you are a Hornby fan. This is the worst book I've read this year, and if it were possible to give zero stars, this book would be getting zero.
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2005
Nick Hornby can rightfully claim to be the king of modern day intelligent 'lad-lit' and he deserves immense credit for getting many 30something males reading again.
His first three major works - two superb novels About A Boy and High Fidelity plus Fever Pitch, his touchingly honest account of the male passion for football - put him into a league of his own and made subsequent books must-buys.
To be honest, however, his last two novels (including this on) have been let downs.
This one has an excellent premise - it is about four people who are about to commit suicide at the same time at a well -known 'suicide spot' deciding against it and forming an unlikely bond. The problem is that the unlikely bond is simply too unlikely because the four people are just so different that I doubt they could convince a child to eat sweets let alone stop each other killing themselves!
Told in turn by the four very different characters, the story has a nice pace and is very readable but it simply lacks credibility. Worst of all is the creation of a screwed up teenager - Jess - who is simply so unlikable and horrible there won't be anybody reading this who wouldn't have wished she had indeed jumped in chapter one. That the three relatively sane and intelligent people around here would have befriended her and ignored her OTT exploits is one of those unlikely premises on which this book is based and I am afraid that by the end of the book I felt a little bit cheated that a potentially fascinating plot had simply failed to deliver or offer nearly enough of Hornby's usually spot-on insights into the psyche.
Nick Hornby remains an important writer and a very good wordsmith and ideas man but he needs another 'great' book I think. And this isn't it.
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on 25 June 2016
Starts out brilliantly but quickly loses steam
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on 18 May 2007
When How To Be Good was published, much was made of the fact that Hornby has chosen to make his protagonist a woman - the coverage for A Long Way Down seemed to focus much more on the atypical subject matter (suicide and depression) rather than his deployment of four alternating voices throughout his book to explore how four different people reached the point where they wanted to end their lives.

The book sees four very different people on top of a block of flats that also serves as a local suicide spot one New Years Eve. All four stop each other from jumping yet all feel that they have very real problems that they cannot solve, at least not on their own. From this point, Hornby moves through the development of the characters lives from this point onwards and explores the common bond that ties them all together.

Hornby has drawn his characters expertly and it is difficult not to empathise with them. The book is also shot through with his normal humorous observations and this could be the funniest book about depression ever written. This is not to say that the book makes light of suicide - indeed, it is a beautiful exploration of what remains a real taboo within society.

A Long Way Down is not a book of perfect happy endings, but like How To Be Good suggests glimmers of hope at the end of the book. This book has reaffirmed Hornby's status of one of the best writers the UK currently has to offer.
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on 6 January 2006
I like Nick Hornby's writing a lot - his books have that quality that makes you think about yourself, how you would react, and how real the reactions of his characters are.
This doesn't do any of that.
The basic premise is a group of people who all decide to kill themselves on the same night jumping off the same building (though they don't know that till they all arrive there). There's a disgraced tv personality; an aging rocker; a disillusioned youth; and a middle-aged woman who cares for her handicapped son.
And it gets no less contrived from this shaky beginning.
I cared nothing about the characters and came close a few times to simply tossing the book aside. And there's also the nagging doubt that Hornby simply can't write women particularly well.
The added to this is the yoof-speak that his young female character is written in - okay she might talk like that, but reading something like that is always annoying.
Hornby is a very talented writer (just read High Fidelity to be convinced of this) but this is far from being a good book.
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on 10 November 2006
I usually love Nick Hornby's books - I have read About A Boy and How To Be Good several times so was really pleased to find that he had released his latest novel. However I found the book really hard to get into - the concept of the four characters meeting on the top of the car park was good but unfortunately the characters were either all unlikable or forgetable. The book lurched about all over the place and certainly wasn't difficult to put down. It felt an anti-climax when I had eventually finished the book and it's not one I would bother to read again.
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