Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Book review: Starter For Ten by David Nicholls.
I first saw the film version of Starter for Ten, starring James McAvoy, on TV at least a year before I went to university. I got the book shortly after but it sat on my TBR pile at home, at university, and then at home again until now, and though I enjoyed it as much as I knew I would, I'm actually glad I waited until now to read it.
Brian does not have the most amazing time during his first year at university. In fact he's a bit of a loser, but endearingly so. He may have a wealth of advanced general knowledge, but he knows nothing about people, especially how to conduct himself around girls. He's a very believable teenage boy. One of the triumphs of Nicholls's writing is that even when Brian is at his most awkward, his most weird, his most teenage boy-ish, he is still so optimistic and full of hope and self-deprecation in equal measure, that you can't help but like him. Even when he's making an absolute tit of himself in front of Alice's parents or being kind of a git to his old school mates Spence and Tone, Brian is never really mean. Which is really his big saving grace because he can certainly be a bit of an ass.
Although my university experience bared very little resemblance to Brian's (I'm not sure my uni even has a University Challenge team) Starter for Ten made me weirdly nostalgic for that time. Even though it was only a little over a year and a half ago that I was there. Nicholls perfectly captures Brian's feeling of expectation and hope that university will be different and better than school - that he will be different and better. He also perfectly captures Brian's disappointments. And always with humour.
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