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3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  385 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Former bouncer Barker Dodds wants nothing more than to flee his violent past in his native Plymouth for an uncertain new existence as a barber in London's colorful EastEnd.Waif-like Glade Spencer drifts through life as a waitress at a fashionable Soho restaurant, a devoted daughter to her estranged, caravan-dwelling father, and a long-distance girlfriend to an unpredictabl ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 25th 2000 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published January 1st 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 617)
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Soft is a novel which doesn't have a clear idea what it wants to be. Is it contemporary noir, focused on shady characters in the underbelly of London? An expose of the equally shady side of contemporary advertising industry? Or simply a book about three different people, all living different existences until one day their lives come together?

The truth is somewhere inbetween - Soft tries to combine all three elements into a cohesive whole, but ends up like most of its ambitious predecessors did -
MJ Nicholls
Apr 10, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soft has the most misleading blurb and design I’ve ever encountered. (This month at least: let time corrupt). Packaged as an edgy Palahniuk-style assault on evil capitalist pigs, the blurb tells us of the most marginal protagonist in the story, marketing whizz Jimmy who devises a subliminal ad campaign based on brainwashing experiments. Well . . . no.

In actual fact, this is a book about relationships. It just happens to bring the three protagonists together via a subplot about an evil fizzy pop


and complicated interpersonal relationships.
rupert thomson, one of my very favorite authors. plus adds life
Sep 18, 2009 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I didn't actually finish this book. I read most of it, and it was OK, and I had about 50 pages to go. I wasn't inspired by it, so I figured I'd knock those off that evening and start something else. Sadly, at the end of a long train journey that evening, the 13th September 2009, I set it down on the concrete outside Andover train station and must have forgotten to pick it up when my lift arrived.

That was a little disappointing, but not very, which is really as good a verdict on the book as I can
Steve Sanderson
Dec 12, 2012 Steve Sanderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
Three people, three different backgrounds and lifestyles, one soft drink. It's a thriller, and so well written. This book flew by, because the writing was crisp, but not spare, the characters not at all stereotypical (there's plenty of backstory).

But what I liked most was the choices Rupert Thomson makes in his descriptions - he doesn't show you everything, only just enough so the reader has to do a bit of work.

This book's well worth your time, if you like a literate and somewhat scathing noiris
Jun 26, 2015 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I do love a good noir, and the Goodreads algorithm recommended this one. Bad decision.

The premise was daft, the dame flaky and I was bored to tears by 'filler' prose:

"Barker began to sing “Hotel California”under his breath. He had no idea why that particular song had come to mind—unless perhaps he’d heard it on the radio that morning while he was waiting for his saucepan of water to boil.

On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in your hair …

He had to hum the rest because he couldn’t remember the wor
Paul Grimsley
this was a really interesting look at the world of advertising taken to the nth degree. really compelling and genuinely gets you on the edge of your seat. you care about the characters contained within these pages. a great read.
Aug 25, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This turned out to live up to the jacket blurbs perfectly. It really was a hypnotic literary thriller that "pulls you in by the ankles", as one reviewer put it. Thomson is an intriguing writer with an unusual style that seems both very conventional and avant-garde at the same time. As he tells his story, he mesmerizes the reader with odd, poetic little descriptions of fairly ordinary things.

"Soft!" (the title of the edition I bought) tells the tale of a secret, psychological advertising campaign
Jul 24, 2010 Ugh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't think this is a bad book. Thomson can definitely write, and he's on fairly decent form here. He manages to switch between three pretty different narrators and make each voice convincing, each character fleshed out. When he's telling the story as Barker, the former bouncer and hardman who moves to London to escape his past, he's not far short of brilliant. However, the character's pasts and complexities in the end aren't really all that relevant to the plot, and although it's good for fic ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Alena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give it four stars in fact, but I did not like the chapter five that is far too long, and its blurry, dreamlike style seemed to me to be out of sync with the rest of the book. Which is a pity, because otherwise it's a real joy to read it: well, that is, if you are not too squeamish and if you do not happen to be a hardcore fan of orange-coloured soft drinks...

The characters are finely cut, and it's good that Glade is just a normal girl and not an utter angel. The only character I had som
Jul 27, 2014 Ewan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An innovative detective story grounded in contemporary amoral advertising. Sits well alongside The Circle by Dave Eggers, and a glass of water.
Michael Riess
Apr 24, 2014 Michael Riess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another unique novel from this outstanding writer. A well written and compelling account of unethical corporate practices is the basis for the storyline of which I think most informed readers will appreciate.
Mar 07, 2015 Jerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it.
Nov 11, 2012 Bookhuw rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
An inconsequential and detached read, reminiscent of Amis, with a dark and sombre mood. A perplexing amount of rave reviews from the days of its late nineties release adorned my copy, pronouncing that this would become a cult classic that would live long in the collective memory – for a hardly notorious book that touches on how advertising and industry can seek to drive tastes and fashions independent of consumers’ genuine opinions, I found this to be nicely ironic.
Dec 06, 2013 Biogeek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just could not figure out what this book wanted to be. Someone called it horror-lite,but there was no horror that I could find. There were some ironically funny bits, but not enough to make it consistently amusing. There were some suspenseful bits, but again not enough to make it consistently interesting. At times the book felt like I was in the center of the sleep study which is at the center of this novel.
Aug 14, 2011 Joanna rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I quite enjoyed this but I spent the first 100 pages wondering what was going on as it didn't seem to fit with what I was expecting. I think overall I preferred the idea of the book to the actual content. I enjoy Thomson's style though.
Aug 08, 2011 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Light, fizzy reading that is actually quite substantive intellectually and as a piece of social commentary. I often praise Martin Amis as my favorite British author, but Thomson is one of the marvels on the English literary scene.
I'm a soda drinker so it scared the crap outta me WHILE i was reading the book. The fact that the whole thing is so freaking possible! I love the way the three characters came together. Very disturbing but i love it.
Feb 17, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
That this, like any other Thomson book, is not for the squeamish. That this kind of horror-lite can be quite compelling but leave you wishing you'd done something wholesome instead like mow the lawn or trim the hedge.
Feb 06, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The brazilian edition sells it as a suspens novel. Much more about the inter-relations of some unlikely characters and some quite unexpected fast resolution of events.

It surprised me in very good ways.
Dec 16, 2007 Sephie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange thriller about the marketing of a new soft drink which has some very odd outcomes. The author obviously knows Plymouth as the book has many references to real locations
Jan 11, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 02, 2011 Lind0463 rated it liked it
well - it makes you think, but it is also very strange
Dec 10, 2010 Richard rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery
nice linked threesom
Hannah Boyd
Hannah Boyd marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2016
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Cyber rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2016
Tiago Melo
Tiago Melo rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2016
Louisa added it
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