Author: Nick Hornby
Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition, 2009
ISBN 13: 978-1594484711
Review by Kathryn Lewis
I read Slam, by Nick Hornby, and I’m left with fairly mixed opinions about it. On the one hand, I think Hornby’s style of writing is fantastic and he has a great way of subtly working points into the plot. On the other hand, however, I found aspects of the storyline that really didn’t work for me–which definitely effected my reading experience–I wasn’t overwhelmed by the storyline.
My biggest problem with the novel was that the “little accident” described on the blurb, the one that has big consequences for sixteen year old Sam’s life, seemed horribly cliché and predictable. Even after the idea is introduced, I was desperately hoping that it wouldn’t be true. I felt really disappointed when it was true–to the point that I didn’t feel much like reading on. The idea also wasn’t written in a way that made it stand out much from similar books so I wasnt rushing to find out what happened next.
The other point that let this book down for me was the many “dreams” that Sam has about the future that turn out to be true. I felt this really detracted from the realism of the rest of the story and made everything else seem less meaningful. Again, I read them hoping that they weren’t actually what happened–and when they were, I felt disappointed. I didn’t mind the dreams themselves but I think they would have been more effective if they’d had differed more from what actually happens.
I did, however, enjoy the writing style in the book. Interactions are written in such a way that even simple conversations or actions between characters subtly revealed thoughts and traits without having to directly point these out. Despite the issues I had, there’s a sense of warmth in the writing that made it quite a relaxing read for me. I would say it’s a good book of you’re looking for something you can easily dip in and out of.
Although Slam didn’t have the emotional impact for me that other books have had, I did find parts of it made me smile. At times it is also heart warming and moving. I didn’t get particularly attached to any of the characters, but they were overall well written and believable. To me, Sam’s age didn’t always feel consistent and his decisions sometimes felt slightly out of character. However, he was a decent protagonist. I think part of the reason I struggled to become attached to the character was that I found nothing in myself at all to identify with him.
Overall I’d say that Slam is an easy read but not particularly ground breaking. There were no sections of the book that really surprised me and generally it felt like it was just slowly ticking along. The writing itself is nice but for me it was just slightly too predictable.
About the Author
Nick Hornby (born 17 April 1957) is an English novelist, essayist, lyricist, and screenwriter. He is best known for the novels High Fidelity and About a Boy, as well as for the football memoir Fever Pitch. His work frequently touches upon music, sport, and the aimless and obsessive natures of his protagonists. His books have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide as of 2009.
Text © 2014 Kathryn Lewis
Re-print © 2014 The Black Lion Journal
Re-printed with permission.
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