Thursday, 13 June 2013

Book #35 Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas

Bright Young Things

Length Of Time in Possession : 3 weeks

Ah, Bright Young Things, I don't know what I make of you. You are no "The End Of Mr Y" and you don't match up to "PopCo" (both by the same author) despite its flaws either; but yet there is something to say for you.

At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to the eponymous Bright Young Things : Anne, Thea, Emily, Jamie, Paul and Bryn all of whom have their own back story - most of whom are recent graduates, and what leads them all to apply for a small job advertisement in The Guardian about which little details are given. Just that it's an "exciting project" for "Bright Young Things"

After arriving to their interview, they all suddenly wake up on a remote island with no idea how they got there and no way off, and no clue as to the 'project' they are supposed to be involved in.

So they end up living a Big Brother/Castaway type hybrid in which they must entertain themselves and to read it is almost like reading a novelisation of one of those reality shows, like a Geordie Marcus voice over set to the page.

In some ways this proves quite dull, as it basically consists of popular culture discussions revolving around the late Eighties into the 90s, basically what people my age (31) were into as teens. I found myself thinking "Wow, had I read this at 42, it would have been an amazing nostalgia trip, but right now it just feels dated"

Certain parts did make me smile, the ZX Spectrum gets referenced and my family had one, on top of this Anne goes on a pretty lengthy diatribe about early Home And Away, something my sisters and I watched religiously, discussing at length a storyline about Bobby and her half brother Alan Fisher with whom she almost entered a relationship both entirely unaware they had the same father, Alan's death and the subsequent publication of his novel On The Crest Of A Wave, that, I did wax nostalgic about, one of my favourite all time storylines.  My Home And Away/Neighbours days are long over and I'm now more of a Breaking Bad girl but I do find it sweet and amusing that Alf Stewart of the catchphrase "flaming gallah" is still in it more than twenty years later.

There is a decent if rather preposterous twist at the midway point, yet the ending is a bit empty and feels unfinished. The ending of PopCo is similarly rushed and disappointing and though personally I loved the ending of "Mr Y", other readers have made the same complaint of it, giving rise to the accusation that Thomas gets off to good starts and has difficulty carrying them through to the novels conclusion.

I gave Mr Y a 10/10 and I believe I gave PopCo a 7, Bright Young Things for me is a 6/10 which means somewhat disappointingly Thomas's other novels have failed to live up to what I felt was utter genius in Mr Y, I still have two of her other novels : Our Tragic Universe and Going Out unread but from her output thus far, it is clear to me that there is genuine, if slightly flawed, talent at work and I will continue to keep her on my watchlist.

Destination : Charity Shop    

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