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In Real Life

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  139 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews

For a while, Ian, Lauren and Paul shared the same friends, the same university, the same dreams and the same potential. Ten years on they are worlds apart. Call centres, charity shops and bedrooms that smell like cabbage were never part of the plan. The real world doesn't look quite like any of them imagined. But when Lauren,
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 15th 2015 by Canongate
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Well that was super depressing! I normally like depressing books...(is that weird?), but this was in a whole 'notha ballpark. It was depressing simply for the sake of being depressing. Nothing happened, and really apart from the single benefit of making you feel like you were less pathetic than the main characters of the novel, I am not really sure what the point of it all was.

It follows a few people, going back and forth ten years, and just...follows them going about nothing. I don't know, perh
Charlotte Jones
Oct 05, 2015 Charlotte Jones rated it liked it
I received this book at work in exchange for an honest review and I am so glad I read it, it was just what I needed in my current reading mood. I haven't been finishing many books despite being in the middle of several but this one just hooked me in and I finished it in just a few days.

If I was to compare In Real Life to any other book, I would definitely choose One Day by David Nicholls. The tone is very similar and, although the structure and characters are completely different, I have some si
Melinda Worfolk
Yet another book I can't recall having queued. But here we are. Unlike Juggling (my last mystery meat library hold), this one was a disappointment. However, I slogged on, determined to finish it because I'll be damned if I don't make my GoodReads Challenge this year.

This book was just lethargically paced and grim. There were the occasional bright spots--though the book is set in England, one character unexpectedly spends time living in Vancouver, and there are all sorts of local details that we
Crystal Blake
May 24, 2016 Crystal Blake rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this from Kindle Unlimited and it's safe to say this is really not my sort of book, reading is my escape and if I wanted to be bored and miserable I can manage that just fine without assistance. I couldn't really get invested in the characters and felt more than a little depressed by the story. Jumping between the two time periods was a slightly strange approach and I am not really sure it worked. In my opinion, it felt unfinished. I wanted to know what happened with Lauren's Mum. I ...more
Nov 01, 2015 Kathleen rated it did not like it
If only I could reclaim the lost hours I spent reading this book and picked a different book I totally would. It was a boring merry-go-round ride where I kept checking how many pages left before I caould finally click on the "I'm finished" button. Why finish it then? Because it was an easy read- no complex plots or philosophical meanings I had to figure out. AND Goodreads kept emailing me about not reaching my GR challenge so yes I needed to finish the book. Other than that, it's safe to say ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Melanie rated it really liked it
I immediately settled into this book and being a similar age to the characters could relate to a lot of their thoughts/expectations after uni.
This book made me laugh and at times feel very sad,but so pleased with the ending!
I enjoyed the style- with emails and chapters for each character. I have to say Paul was awful and made me cringe with some of his choices...but I really liked the characters of Lauren and Ian.
Very enjoyable and has reminded me to listen to Elliott Smith more!!!
Would recomm
Nov 01, 2016 Zoë rated it it was ok
+ great writing style
+ unique features i.e. emails
+ aspect of "real life" so easy to relate to.
+ easy and quick read
+ targets age range 20/30s
+ smaller sub-chapters

- no real story to it
- don't really know much about characters
- doesn't hook you
- doesn't leave you wanting more
- quite miserable
- didn't stir my emotions
- lack of humour
- no good quotes

Overall - Boring, but a fascinating quick read.
Sep 30, 2016 Thatkliqkid rated it liked it
I liked it but then the ending seemed so abrupt.
Heather Lawson
Mar 06, 2015 Heather Lawson rated it liked it
Originally published here:
I was really intrigued by the premise for In Real Life and I was excited to pick it up. In the end though, it fell a little short of my expectations.

The story follows three people: Lauren, Paul, and Ian. They were friends during their university years and drifted apart. Through flashbacks to 2004 and present day, we follow the three to discover where they've gone with their lives.

Lauren is still tryi
Apr 04, 2016 Jim rated it liked it
This is a novel of bad choices, missed opportunities, lost causes and fumbled second chances. In 2004 Ian and Paul were flatmates. Paul was living with Lauren but they broke up; she wrote a pros and cons list and the cons won hands down. Paul and Ian drifted apart as often happens after uni. Lauren flies off to Canada for a while to try to get her life together; it doesn’t work out.

Ten years later we meet up with them—this is a few months before they run into each other again for the first time
Jan 17, 2015 Darklittle rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
When you reach thirty, you are supposed to live an orderly life, earn a regular income and, ideally, have a spouse and children. It can’t be that hard, can it? Until 2004, Lauren, Ian and Paul went to university together but a lot has changed since then. Now, ten years later, their lives aren’t what they imagined them to be. Lauren has to convince her friends that she’s not interested in blind dates anymore, Ian is broke and Paul’s life is a lie.

When I started reading In Real Life, I didn’t know
Jun 09, 2016 Dana rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016-books-read
I read this book as the author is coming to talk about it and then we are discussing it as our reading group book. I struggled with the style at first and then became irritated because I think some of the headings were wrong (one in particular was marked 2004 when it was definitely 2014!) which didn't help. Yes, I smiled at one or two things but I really didn't find this book particularly funny and if Real Life has all your main characters unhappy, unsuccessful and with no direction in life I ...more
Chris Baker
Jun 20, 2016 Chris Baker rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, comedy
IN REAL LIFE traces a love triangle from the desktop days of internet in 2004 into the 'social' media of 2014. The trio comprises of Paul, a young creative writing tutor struggling to write a second novel about his univeristy girlfriend, Lauren, now working in a charity shop, and their mate Ian, a failed musician of no fixed abode. You quickly get the feeling that the story might not be a million miles from Killen's own experience, in this, his second novel; albeit with some added cringeworthy ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Pgchuis rated it liked it
This novel is set partly in 2004/5 when Lauren leaves Paul (very strong opening chapter), goes to Vancouver and email Ian, and partly in 2014 when Ian, between jobs, moves in with his sister, Paul is lecturing and trying to write a second novel and Lauren is managing a charity shop and trying to avoid going on blind dates. It was an easy read and the shifts between the two time frames were well-managed, but it wasn't a terribly original book. I feel like I have read several novels like this ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Galleane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tant qu'on rêve encore est un roman sans réel intérêt. Il passe en revue la vie de trois personnages, des vies qui ne sont que banal, qui ne bougent pas, qui n'évoluent pas ou de manière si anecdotique que ça n'avance à rien. Ce n'est pas ce qu'il me plaît de lire et au vu du résumé, on pouvait s'attendre à des réflexions sur un passé que tous regrettent plus ou moins et ce n'est pas le cas. Même si c'était censé arriver avec un personnage, la femme, et vu ses liens avec les deux autres, il ...more
Arja Salafranca
Nov 15, 2015 Arja Salafranca rated it it was ok
Moving between 2004 and 2014, In Real Life is mired in the grit of everyday reality in contemporary Britain. It’s a fast-paced, highly readable story about what happens when you smack reality head on in the face and com face to face with that thing called “real life”.

Centred on three friends from university, Ian, Lauren and Paul, we follow them through ill-fated love affairs, dead-end jobs in call centres and nights in front of the TV.

Lauren’s working in a charity shop, trying to forget Paul, h
Guille-Allès Library
In Real Life is a funny, powerful novel about growing up and growing apart, and the slog that early adulthood can unravel into, especially in post-credit crunch Britain. In beautiful prose Chris Killen precisely captures the sharp, quiet sadness of Wetherspoons and Tesco Meal Deals and watching repeats of Grand Designs with your dinner on your knees.

But the book’s real subject is the Internet and the way it’s changed our lives without us noticing – and not entirely for the better. In 2004, for t
Aug 09, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
I'll be honest, when I chose this book in the library, I found it quite a difficult book to get into. A combination of the switches in time from 2004/2005 to 2014, the switches from first person from one chapter to third person in another chapter, and the distinct depressive undertones of this book left me contemplating swapping said library book for another novel. It certainly doesn't seem "hilarious" besides a few passages. However, I did gradually get more into it, and I did enjoy the final ...more
Brian Centrone
Jan 24, 2015 Brian Centrone rated it it was amazing
Chris Killen has kept us waiting for his second novel for six long years. In Real Life does not disappoint. Killen's sophomore effort shows both growth and maturity from an already outstanding writer. No one captures the irony, wit, sadness, and passion of the lost 30something generation better than Killen. IRL will get you longing for your college days, missing your friends, and realizing that maybe, just maybe there is some hope after all. I loved this book. I hope Killen doesn't keep up waiti ...more
Apr 12, 2016 exncgal rated it it was ok
This book repeatedly showed up as a suggestion in Overdrive, and so I finally gave it a try. I got about 25% of the way through before realizing that it wasn't worth my time. The premise sounded interesting, but I didn't feel like the story (stories, 6 total between three characters and two eras) flowed. I also found the characters to be uninteresting. I felt like I was in Paul's novel, the one he couldn't write... Anyway, I just couldn't make myself finish it.
Helen Marquis
Sep 30, 2015 Helen Marquis rated it really liked it
Steeped in nostalgia, there's a melancholic ache running through the heart of this book. Not so much life's failures, more like life's underachievers. I immediately associated with them, as they reminded me of people I grew up with! As a result, I found myself urging them on to be better versions of themselves and to grab life with both hands. Really enjoyable read, filled with cultural references that made me think back about my own student days.
Jul 16, 2015 Jp rated it really liked it
I find it baffling that anyone could read this book and think it depressing. In Real Life is a wonderfully touching, wonderfully real (without being pretentious) book with a wonderfully happy ending. A very good book, and one of the few in recent months I've actually wanted to finish instead of getting bored partway through.
Nov 04, 2015 Stefanie rated it it was ok
It wasn't terrible - I enjoyed the story and the characters but the whole point of the novel (the fact that it all hinges on the fact that one character reopens an old email account) wasn't immediately clear and so the chronological aspect seemed a little half assed. ultimately it left me unsatisfied.
Apr 23, 2015 Fiona rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
A sweet, likeable story about missed opportunities, about working in a call centre when what you really wanted was to play in a band, about online versus real lives, about whether or not to settle for what (or who)ever is in front of you when it isn't really what you hoped for. Easy to read, poignant at times, with believable characters and a cautiously optimistic ending. 3.5 stars
David Brook
Jan 31, 2015 David Brook rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Lovely read; the story is full and satisfying and while hinted at, you never quite know where it'll end up. There's some great observations, both now and in the past throughout the book, and all of this detail really adds to the story. Highly recommended - if you're around the age of the characters, you'll get a load out of it, but even if you're not, you'll still enjoy the ride.
Manque la petite étincelle pour faire la différence. Jamais l'histoire ne s'élève au rang de comédie galvanisante et se contente de nous servir trois portraits de personnages finalement peu réjouissants. Ils ne sont que trentenaires, mais déjà au bout du rouleau ! :/
Lisa Norcross
Jan 31, 2015 Lisa Norcross rated it liked it
Enjoyable but quite lightweight book which weaves together the story of 3 friends shortly after leaving university in 2004 and 'in real life' in 2014, when none of their lives have quite worked out as planned.
Feb 15, 2015 graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really great

I'm never going to write more than twenty words so it seems a little silly to have to write twenty. But this is a very good book about growing up on the internet and you should read it. Oh look, I have done what I said I wouldn't.
Jade H
Mar 03, 2015 Jade H rated it liked it
It grows on you. Started out like really meh and then its humdrum typical but nonetheless sad tale of modern-day relationships blossoms unexpectedly into something like an endearing old friend from childhood. It's not brilliant but an entertaining and sometimes introspective read.
Yuval Zukerman
Jan 04, 2016 Yuval Zukerman rated it liked it
Like that Cameron Crowe movie but in England and everyone's actually not doing that great and they still all carry on. Easy read, funny at times, with a love story unfulfilled. Great for a long flight.
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I am the author of the novels In Real Life (2015) and The Bird Room (2009).
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