Starter for Ten: A Novel (Google eBook)
Now a major motion picture
“Utterly charming . . . a big-hearted, flawless coming-of-age tale, as scary and funny as your yearbook picture.”
–People (****/Critic’s Choice)
The year is 1985. Brian Jackson, a working-class kid on full scholarship, has started his first term at university. He has a dark secret–a long-held, burning ambition to appear on the wildly popular British TV quiz show University Challenge–and now, finally, it seems the dream is about to become reality. He’s made the school team, and they’ve completed the qualifying rounds and are limbering up for their first televised match. (And, what’s more, he’s fallen head over heels for one of his teammates, the beautiful, brainy, and intimidatingly posh Alice Harbinson.) Life seems perfect and triumph inevitable–but as his world opens up, Brian learns that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
“Fresh, edgy and very funny . . . [Nicholls] has a talent for droll dialogue and a wonderful sense of the ridiculous.”
“Starter for Ten has that elusive Hornby-factor. . . . It’s wincingly funny . . . a prospect to savour.”
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
My expectations were not particularly high, nor was I thrilled to be reading this. Why? Well, I acquired a copy of One Day from a used bookstore and read it a while back, because I was really excited for. Unfortunately, I largely hated it. To find out why, read my review here. Starter for Ten has a lot of the same issues, but I did enjoy it a bit more, finding the characters to be a smidgen less obnoxious and the desperation a bit less unforgivable in a younger main character. Oddly enough, what Starter for Ten reminds me most of is some of John Green's books, namely Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. What these books share is a young male lead, though Brian in Nicholls' book is in college rather than high school, who is obsessed with a mysterious, experienced, unreachable girl. For this reason, these are my least favorite Green novels, though I still quite like them. I just can't bond quite as much with the books when I loathe the 'heroine' so much, and when the MC, otherwise intelligent and awesome, will not just get over this girl who obviously does not want him, but wants to string him along to increase her self-worth, which is low despite being the most gorgeous creature ever to enter that institution of learning. Ugh. Of course, Green's books are saved by the other characters. They're pretty much all seriously entertaining and funny, people I wouldn't mind meeting. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Starter for Ten. Brian is SUCH A PATHETIC PRAT. Phew. Had to get that out. Seriously, though. He's a really smart guy, as shown by all of the trivia, but he has pretty much no social skills and no common sense. He gets terrible grades at University, because he spends pretty much all of his time mooning over Alice, THE girl, and writing her what is assuredly the worst poetry ever composed. Thank goodness Nicholls spared us that! Alice is apparently the prettiest girl in school, sexually experienced, and desired by pretty much every male on campus. Brian is skinny, may have the worst acne ever, and seriously questionable style. I don't know what the 'grandpa shirts' he's constantly going on about are, but I seriously doubt clothing of that name is going to help bring the ladies to the yard. This discrepancy in their social status and skills made most of the book seem unbelievable to me. I just could not buy that Alice would voluntarily spend time with Brian. Sure, she might be nice enough to keep him interested if they happened to show up to the same party or at trivia practice. In what world, though, does this girl invite that guy to her house over the holiday? Why would she keep hanging out with him after he said something super awkward to her mother? There's just no way that Alice and Brian would be as close as they are in the book. It's not just their attractiveness; she really doesn't seem to like him much, which I can certainly understand. And, whatever he may say, Brian really only likes her for her beauty, as all he really ever commends her for is being gorgeous. All the time, of course, the one character I actually liked, Rebecca, a snarky Scot, is pining after Brian for some reason. With an awesome girl right there, he just continues to go after the girl he so obviously is not going to get in the end. It's great that unlike in One Day it's a guy desperate for a girl's love, but that reversal is undone by the fact that, awful though he is, a woman is waiting for him even more patiently. Sigh. Please note, though, that there are good things about this book as well. For one thing, Nicholls is an incredibly talented writer. If he wrote characters I found less entirely obnoxious, I would LOVE his books. I read so much for character. Seriously, check out the quote. I love that, and it really does encapsulate the feelings of going off to college. If you're in it more for the writing, DEFINITELY read Nicholls. He's also delightfully British, which isn't so much a talent, but I enjoy it immensely. If you're interested in this book, please do not let me scare you off unless you have similar taste in books,...
Review: Starter for TenUser Review - Goodreads
A funny book that's easy to read in a day. I found it was almost written a little like Nick Hornby, but less original, or John O'Farrell, but less political. The book was light-hearted and witty ...