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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 30 April 1999
This book manages what some may seem as impossible. We see Ben Elton's pbvious comic talent shine through in a book that is well written and strucutred. The comic metaphores of Black Adder are still there but as the debate of the affect of violence in the media rages on this book still remains highly topical. I defy you not to read this book in more than a week. Just read it...you now you want to,
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on 23 November 2012
I thought it was hilarious,(I love dark humour and satire) but at the same time it said something serious and true about the times we live in (also here in Norway). It was well written - I couldn't put it down until I had read the entire book.
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on 5 January 2013
A fantastic quick read, read in 2 days by the pool on my last holiday. It's like reading a Quentin Tarentino movie, (You'll understand more when you actually read it). Ben Elton has a way of writing that is so directed it almost feels like you're watching a movie in your head rather than reading a book. I read this book at least once a year, its great! Two thumbs up and 5 whole stars from me!
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on 6 January 2005
this book is very well written with loads and loads of dark humour. all of the characters are well developed and it has an interesting plot leading to an unforgetable climax, that will have your eyes glued to the book.
i read this while on holiday last year, and even though i'm not really a very big reader, ended up finishing it in abouth two days.
when reading this book i was reminded of a couple of films- kalifornia, (and to a lesser extent) natural born killers. Julliete lewis' character in kalifornia being almost identical. so if you have seen these films and enjoyed them then i would recomend you read.
if you've read any of Elton's other books you should definately enjoy this. and if you havent thyen read it anyway!
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on 11 February 2003
In this intelligent thriller from an unexpected source, Ben Elton fuses many different qualities into an excellent book.
Every chapter looks at realistic situations with wit, sarcasm and satire; there were many occassions that caused a quick chuckle. Simultaneously, these situations are unavoidably thought-provoking; however you view the situations, your opinions have to be formed, and parts of modern life are shown in all their absurdity.
Even more brilliantly, while both thought-provoking and incredibly funny, the story continues apace, full of interest and intrigue, with descriptions that while vivid, avoid being gruesome, instead cleverly accentuating both the (thriller) plot and moral issues addressed.
The ending to the book is masterful, the epilogue incredibly funny. I also found the stageshow very enjoyable, but not quite as complete or convincing as the book.
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on 21 May 2009
Having read 'High Society', thought I'd try another Ben Elton book.

By comparison to 'High Society' (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I found 'Popcorn' one-dimensional and rather dull. I didn't empathise or sympathise with any of the characters and just couldn't care what happened to them.

The two poor 'white trash' villains were imbued with intellect and debating skills way beyond what might be reasonably expected of them, which detracted from the book's overall credibility.

It lacked the dark humour, plot twists, sustained interest and compassion for many of the characters which made High Society such a compelling read.

'Popcorn' might have made an interesting short story, but to me it seems (over)stretched at a 300+ page novel.
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on 22 June 2000
Having read his first three books and thoroughly enjoyed them, I was expecting great things from 'Popcorn' how wrong I was.
The book was a very shallow montage of the current vogue Tarrantino movies. It was so obvioulsy written as a play and not a novel and as such seems to have very little depth. A case of jumping on the bandwagon rather than a good story. It lacked all of the things that I had become accustomed to in his earlier works.
I found this book so bad that have not read anything else by the author, which is such a shame, as he obviously has great talent as a writer, but I feel that the prospects to convert his latest work into a movie or a play are fast becoming the motive for his novels.
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on 26 September 2002
Having read four other of Elton's books before this one, I must say I finished this novel feeling pretty dissapointed. I had high expectations for this which is probably why I enjoyed it so little.
It lacked any real depth in the social analysis given and I really could not relate to or sympathise with any of the characters. I felt all the points Elton tried to make here highly cliched and not very succinctly put. It also lacked much of the humour of 'Blast from the Past' or 'Dead Famous.' The plot too was very tedious and hardly kept me interestd.
I only finished this book on the strength of his other novels and in the hope it would get better. The only thig that saved this book from a 1 star rating was the very end ie the last few pages and the epilogue which I thought were quite well done but unfortunatley not good enough to rescue the book from being overall pretty poor.
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This novel was first published in 1996. Whether there has been any updating of the text beyond one reference to the 21st century in this new paperback edition I simply have no idea.
Ben Elton is a caricaturist and satirist. He was scriptwriter for the Blackadder series, he used to do a standup comic routine on television that I thought brilliant, and he has several other novels to his name that will give you some idea of what to expect from this one. As with all the best satirists, the humour comes from his sharp eye for the way people behave and think and from his willingness to be near the bone and explicit about issues that are normally thought to require some delicacy. This particular book is hung around the theme of extreme violence, and I'm quite sure that Quentin Tarantino was its inspiration, but any resemblance between the film-director hero and Tarantino himself is really neither here nor there, and the book is not really concerned either with resolving the question whether violence on the media does or doesn't cause violence in real life - we are no nearer an answer to that on the last page than we are on the first. What it is about is the mentality that refuses to accept personal responsibility in the traditional sense.
The setting is America and the satire is a particularly English kind of satire, but Popcorn is not about comparing cultures. There are references to certain notorious American trials where the author is left rubbing his eyes with disbelief at the outcome, but I dare say he would have thought the same about the trial of Jeremy Thorpe back at home as he does about the O J Simpson and Lorana Bobbitt cases. Ben Elton's politics are a matter of public record, and they are leftish in much the way my own are. It is not a left-wing stance that finds much time or sympathy for any view that can shuffle off plain guilt on to an individual's background or circumstances, relevant though those may be by way of understanding some aspects of the matter. Elton also throws up his hands in seeming despair at what he sees as a triumph for sheer illogicality and irrelevance in the way issues of criminal guilt are in practice decided on a basis of ethnicity or gender-politics. And whatever influence the media may or may not have in creating or contributing to a culture of violence, he seems in no doubt that the forces of law have to, or at least choose to, trim their sails to way the media will present issues and the way the public will be swayed by such presentation.
Popcorn is, as I say, satire and caricature, not straight reportage or academic analysis. It focuses its spotlight on absurdity, unreasonableness, perversity and a sheer childish immaturity in people's attitudes. The two psychotic villains of the piece are partly depicted as human beings, but partly also as talking heads - mouthpieces for stating an argument. Nobody at all in the book comes out of it particularly well, and Ben Elton takes some sideswipes, in his usual way, at various incidental targets like goody-goody attitudes and the more brainless kinds of patriotism, while not sparing liberal maundering of the 'we are all partly guilty' variety. The money culture comes under heavy fire as you might expect too, and some of the most painful insights relate to that, although the epilogue, with everyone suing everyone else, is extremely funny in a sad sort of way. As for the ostensible theme of the real or supposed effect of media violence on the way people behave, he settles for a simple summation of that in the mouth of the female murderer - it can hardly help.
I have no problem with giving this novel five stars. The author is outstandingly bright and lively-minded, with real independence and originality. Where he stands in some great stately tradition of satirists and social critics - Juvenal, Voltaire, Swift and similar turgid giants - I neither know nor care. I'm pleased to see the tradition of English satire still flourishing, and I stay hopeful that the final Armageddon, which is really a battle between sense on the one hand and cant, doctrine, piety and herd-mentalities on the other, may not actually be lost.
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VINE VOICEon 10 April 2010
This is provocative and combative but is not the rant that many people familiar with Mr Elton in his early career may have expected. Restrained in style but visceral in message I read it in one sitting with a smile on my face throughout. If you were put off reading this by Mr Elton's 'stand-up' persona -think again.

The whole film/copycat debate is much covered. Equally relevant, and increasingly so, is the role of news media. Very prescient stuff as the News Editor revels in 'being' the news 'while the old forces of authority - the cops and the politicians- could only watch impotently from the sidelines'.
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