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on 25 March 2011
I felt really sorry for Seymour to begin with. For starters, the way he introduces his parents to Elliot is by telling them that he pushed him down the stairs. I was kind of glad, but a bit worried, when Seymour and Elliot became friends. If you can call it friendship anyway. As the two start to spend more time together, it is quite clear that Elliot is walking all over Seymour, even if Seymour cant see that. Seymour does start off well though, questioning Elliot's choices in his schemes and plans but being young and naive, he was easily influenced.

Elliot and his father were both interesting characters. Being from an extremely wealthy family, they have never really had to want for much in life as it has always just been handed to them. Both characters think that money will buy them anything but the one thing it cant seem to buy them is genuine friendships and relationships and it was quite sad that neither had these things in their lives. Elliot was so sure of himself with a lot of confidence but he also had quite the temper when things didn't go his way. What I found most strange about him though was his strange obsession with watercress sandwiches though!

Elliot Allagash has a really interesting take on schools and one that I haven't seen done in a book before. This book takes a look at how a high school works and what would need to be done in order to make a student go from unpopular to extremely popular and how other people would react. I loved all of the crazy ideas that Elliot came up with in order to further his experiment/ Seymour's popularity and some of them I really couldn't believe were happening. I would love to know if someone ever did try to do this in a real school so that I could see if it would work or not though.

Elliot Allagash is a fascinating, fast paced coming of age story and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. Simon Rich injects new life into characters which could have turned out bland and unoriginal. His witty writing had me hooked and I found myself giggling to myself throughout the book. Beforehand, Rich was an unknown author to me but now I will be looking out for anything else he writes. I do think that Elliot Allagash is aimed slightly more towards boys but I still really liked it regardless.
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on 4 September 2010
Part coming-of-age story, part high school satire, Elliot Allagash is one of the cleverest books I've read in a long time. Absurd, exhilirating and sometimes just plain odd, this tale of one boy's pact with the devil has had some mixed reviews - but I have no idea why. It's genius.

We see events through the eyes of resigned loser, Seymour, but it's Elliot Allagash himself who really steals the show. The only son of an impossibly rich widower, Elliot is keenly aware that his money makes him hugely powerful. As a human being, he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He's ruthless, manipulative and utterly without empathy for his peers. But as a character, he's fascinating. For Elliot, life is all about cheating. From fixing the results of a school election to enacting overblown revenge on anyone who dares to slight him, it's like sport to him. He disects the world around him with a cold detachment, exploiting his opponents' weaknesses and revelling in his own cleverness.

Which is why, from the moment that Elliot tells Seymour - the most unpopular boy at Glendale Prep - that he can make him king of the school, we know it's not out of the goodness of his heart. And yet, there's something so clever about Elliot's methods that it's impossible not to feel at least a little impressed by them. Besides, there's an element of wish-fulfilment here for the reader too: who doesn't want the likeable loser to seize power from the hands of those who ignore and torment him? Simon Rich weaves a tale as enticing as it is entertaining, spiked with potent dark humour and just a dash of poignancy. Occasionally we have to suspend our disbelief a little further than is comfortable, but it's worth it - and easy when you're having fun. While drawing lightly on familiar tales of genies and Faustian Bargains, Rich tells his story with a fresh voice and with his own brand of endearingly quirky symbolism.

Elliot Allagash is unusual, hilarious, and deceptively smart. I'm not in the least bit surprised that there's a movie adaptation in the pipeline, but I would recommend checking it out now in novel form for something deliciously different.
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on 7 April 2011
I'm a bit embarrassed to read that this is supposed to be "young adult" fiction, since I thought it was excellent and I'm middle-aged! I had no sense that I was reading a book pitched at a young market. It's superbly well-written, inventive, full of surprises and very funny. I'll be buying several people this for Xmas.

It's set in a New York high school but as a UK reader that didn't give me any problems. Can't wait for this guy to write some more.
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on 27 April 2011
After several months of reading very long, very serious novels for our book club, this book was (I initially thought) light relief!

The cover and blurb led me to believe that this was going to be a fun, Gossip Girl-style story...and it was, sort of. The cleverness and depth of this book belies the frothy cover, and although I laughed many times over the course of the story the overwhelming tone and message is a pretty dark one.

I have to say that I loved this book - Elliot's twisted power-mad persona and his equally bonkers father Terry are delightfully awful - and I'm thrilled that the film rights have been bought by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up In The Air), as I think it will be a cracking movie.

Highly recommended.
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on 29 January 2011
From the minute you start reading this book you can tell that Elliot is not a normal boy. He's introduced by Seymour telling his parents that Elliot had pushed him down the stairs, and Seymour's parents throw this comment away by telling him that Elliot was rich. It was like wealth was Elliot's reason for pushing someone down the stairs, or for the strange things he did.

I was convinced that there was something magical about Elliot while I was witnessing him changing Seymour's life. I was convinced he was some kind of fairy godmother sent to help Seymour out. It turns out that I was wrong, Elliot isn't magical, he's just powerful, but I suppose power is just like magic, you can do nearly anything with power! I think the main thing you can't get with power however is strong relationships, this came across with Elliot and his father. It upset me a bit that Elliot didn't seem to understand that underneath it all his father was actually a caring person. Maybe Elliot was just too mean to understand it, he just wanted to treat everyone like a toy, but I liked Elliot's dad a lot.

I often think that the smaller characters in a book should be important too, they should have their own personalities and not just be there as a backdrop. I loved that there were very important aspects to the smaller characters in the book as well as the two main characters. As well as Elliot's dad, Seymour's dad played a great part and Ashley is probably the coolest person in Seymour's school towards the end of it all.

I loved the coming of age aspect of this book, that's was what made me want to read the book. There were many parts of it where I couldn't believe what Seymour was doing but I guess that's what shy, geeky, teenage boys will do if they know it'll get them the thing they want the most, girls and popularity!! I wanted to know where everything was leading so much that I read the book in just a couple of sittings. It was exciting and fast paced and as always with a good book, I was happy to get to the end to find out what happens but also sad because it was over!

I did think the book might be a little bit too guy-based, but in reflection I reckon it's for anyone who knows what like as a teenager is like and who knows that during this strange time in your life there's gunna be people out there who are stranger than you!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 August 2011
When Seymour Herson becomes friends with Elliot Allagash, little does he know what that means. Seymour is one of the school losers, and Elliot comes from an obscenely rich family. Deciding to make Elliot a 'project' he thus turns Seymour from dork to school favourite. The Allagash family, father and son, are both dysfunctional and use their money to get what they want, but as the novel proceeds you get the feeling that Elliot is perhaps learning that cash doesn't buy everything.

Full of humour and satire, with lots of comic incidents this is a tale full of one-upmanship that should appeal to many. A quick read, but one that should make you laugh, surely it is only a matter of time before the film rights are snatched up.
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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2012
Elliot Allagash is a highly entertaining read from start to finish. It's one of those books where you know something cringe-makingly awful is going to happen to the central character, and you can't help but read along breathlessly to find out what it is.

Seymour is the kid who sits on his own. He's bad at sports, bad at conversation and a drinker of five chocolate milks at lunch time. He's that kid that nobody wants to be seen with, but he's Okay with that. He knows his place. Until Elliot arrives. Elliot Allagash is an enigma/nasty piece of work. The heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune, he has been expelled form every school he's been to. Cash strapped Glendale agreed to take him, and so he washes up alongside Seymour. Elliot claims he can make Seymour the most popular kid in school. And so it begins.

The central premise of this novel is that everyone has a price. It's a tale of teenage angst, hormones, familial dysfunction and filthy lucre. The story is a string of entertaining scams, that see Seymour make a meteoric rise up the popularity ladder. Rich's wit is razor sharp, and he uses it to dissect the absurdities of life and the myth of popularity. The ending is fitting, making the whole novel a delightful confection with a dark centre. Well worth reading, 'Elliot Allagash' marks Simon Rich as an author to watch.
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2013
Seymour is something of a loser at school, an unremarkable pupil, unpopular, the last to be picked for sports teams... One day, Elliot Allagash, a boy from a very wealthy family, approaches Seymour and offers to help, instructing him to "do as I say," and suddenly Seymour's life changes. He becomes a star pupil, a top sportsman, admired by all, and it is all down to Elliot. Elliot sees Seymour as a project, a plaything, something to manipulate and control.

From the start you know exactly where the story is going to end up, and it follows that exact path. It's enjoyable but undemanding, clearly written for teenagers, and you can imagine it becoming a film, but the story has been told countless times before. Fun, admittedly, but not as good as the reviews led me to believe.
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on 5 July 2016
... perhaps he's just not my kind of writer, or I picked the wrong book to start with (I'm a middle-aged English woman, and this is ostensibly about teenaged American boys). The reading was okay, but I must confess that the weedy voices did start to grate after a while.

But in terms of the alleged 'hilarity' of the story, this didn't do much for me at all.

Give me Ferris Bueller any day.
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on 21 September 2015
Maybe I didn't enjoy it because it seems to be a book for teenagers? Set in high school with the stereotypical cool and dorky factions, a sort of My Fair Lady between a bland rich kid and his equally bland protege who seeks entrance into the Cool Club.
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