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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a dark, dark dystopian satire, 11 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Blind Faith (Paperback)
Purely by chance, I read this novel shortly after completing The Book Of Dave by Will Self. Both novels use an imagined dystopian future England, decimated after severe flooding covers half the country, for a satire about the state of the nation today. As both novels appeared around the same time, this is clearly a coincidence; both Self and Elton aim at many of the same targets, but while Self's satire is like the point of a dagger skilfully skewering his targets, Ben Elton prefers the repeated hammering over the head with a blunt instrument.

Not that there is anything wrong with this. Elton has addressed the vacuousness of modern life before, and he doesn't spare his anger here. Ben Elton, like Will Self, sets his aim squarely at religious dogmatism. He is clearly horrified by the rise in creationism in the USA, which is starting to make its presence felt in the UK, and takes this to its logical conclusion, where science and rationality are rejected in favour of the titular 'blind faith' and a 'me' culture.

The first thing you should know about this novel is that it isn't funny. At all. Anyone familiar with Ben Elton's work will know that he uses comic situations to address serious issues; there is precious little to laugh about in Blind Faith, just a growing horror as the fast-paced plot drags you in.

It is about 100 years in the future. After a flood, Britain has become a much smaller country. People not only live and work in extraordinary proximity to one another, but are ruled by a religious fanaticism where privacy is frowned upon and belief in evolution- in reason of any kind- is banned. Furthermore, every aspect of one's life is required to be posted online. But Trafford, our protagonist, has the makings of a dangerous subversive- he has a secret.

The plot similarity to 1984 is obvious, and Elton doesn't try to hide it, namechecking Orwell's work more than once. This is not a problem for me; the updating for a modern world is perfect, each target bringing a knowing nod from the reader. Ultimately, the despair in the story is equal to anything Orwell could think up; Elton does show us a chink of light at the close, but be warned it arrives at the end of a very long, dark tunnel.

As always with Elton, Blind Faith is a well-plotted easy read. However, for me the jaunty tone of the early chapters sits uneasily with the dark and cruel nature of the concluding section and as such I would not place it amongst his best work.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Sep 2008, 16:11:28 BST
Arnaud033 says:
Good well balanced review. I wouldn't agree though that its not funny - it had me laughing a lot. However your point about the contrast between the generally light-hearted though satirical earlier chapters and the dark concluding section is a good one. I also found this contrast 'odd' and I'm sure Elton put a lot of thought into how he would end this book. The way he did so was surprising - and a totally unexpected change in tone. However all in all a pretty excellent piece of writing.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Oct 2010, 12:28:07 BST
WinstonSmith says:
I'd agree that it's very darkly funny - some of Ben's books have moments ripped straight from his stand-up performances, this one doesn't. What it does have is a character called Kaitlin Happymeal and a cutting satire of the ridiculous arrogance of facebook/myspace phenomenon. Very funny indeed and my second favourite of Ben's books.

Posted on 12 Jan 2017, 18:24:50 GMT
I would have to agree with the preceding comments in that I found the book bloody hilarious. Also, in your plot summary you wrote "After a flood, Britain has become a much smaller country." Britain is not a country - Britain is in actual fact an island comprising three countries, namely England, Scotland and Wales. Just thought I'd point that out.
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Location: cheltenham, england

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