‘Starter for Ten’, D. Nicholls

David Nicholls is an author with whose works I have been acquainted with for a while now. I’ve read ‘One Day’ and ‘The Understudy’, so it was only natural that ‘Starter for Ten’ would come by my way sooner or later. It might be that having read ‘One Day’ previously made me somewhat biased to the action in ‘Starter for Ten’, but I’ll get into that in a moment.

Overall, my impression of the book was favourable. But exactly how favourable? After reading the novel, I don’t think there were many other ways it could have ended. Which is not at all to say that I am pleased with how it did. I was hoping for a non-real ending, something that would feel more Mr Nicholls than it did here. But, as I said, I am generally pleased (with some reservations) with how things went for our main characters.

I am afraid to say that the beginning of this book was very slow, and this probably impacted on my overall impressions. I was expecting more, and I was expecting it to be better — faster. I wasn’t expecting a very can’t-be-bothered introduction into university life that could have been pulled off in a better way with more style. I was probably hoping for something more along the style of ‘One Day’, which might show how much of a bad first Mr Nicholls novel it is — it makes me want more, and wanting more isn’t really going to happen unless it is meant to be.

I did enjoy the premise of the show, ‘University Challenge‘. These questions on what is going to happen and what has happened in the past, and a character trying to be the best at answering these when he clearly isn’t. But he isn’t the best because he doesn’t try — it is more that circumstances conspire to act against the poor fellow. And that I think even I can sympathize with…

What I have less patience for is the general university getting-drunk-and-living-it-large style. In my mind, people should know better. So, it could simply be that the main character here was not very likable for me. I am slightly hesitant to delve further into this for I cannot place the feeling that this book effectively created for me, and that means that any comment I make will be slightly wrong.

What I do know is that if I had to choose a David Nicholls book to reread now, that book would be ‘One Day’. Or ‘The Understudy’. It would not be ‘Starter for Ten’. Before I’ll try it again (which will probably happen at some point) I want to give this period of time some rest so that maybe the university feels more real than it does right now. Maybe there will be an added sense of depth that will come with the passing of time…

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