Gail's Reviews > Starter for Ten

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls
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Jun 07, 11

bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, favorite-authors
Read in December, 2010

Post-One Day, I wanted to have at some more of David Nicholls' work. Starter for 10 is his first novel, and well....I finished it underwhelmed.

A few reasons why this one tripped me up when One Day (for me anyway) was so lovely:

1) The protagonist, Brian Jackson: A college freshman, Brian has fancy notions of what it means to head off to university. But he's nerdy and his face is pock-marked with acne and he's awkward. So, SO awkward. Every scene becomes slightly painful to read because it's Brian tripping over his words to be funny. Brian trying to sound smarter than he is. Brian thinking a girl—like the gorgeous Alice Harbinson—is in to him when, well, really she's not.
2) The storyline: I'm far enough removed from the college scene now that reading about the days of "getting pissed" every night and being hung over every morning make me feel old. The book's plot builds up to Brian and his team's participation in the University Challenge (think Jeopardy for the college set) and while these bits of the book are pretty solid ... it's the everyday life of the 19-year-old that gets old. Oh, and a bit of a pet peeve — Nicholls begins and ends his story here using the same lines (bit of a literary cop-out, eh?)
3) The British divide: We all speak English. How bad could it be? Turns out, there are enough differences in our countries' vernaculars that I found myself tripping over certain words or puzzling over phrases because of it. Made it more of a challenge to really get in to this one.

Compelled to watch the film version of this after reading (because, after all, it has James McAvoy and Rebecca Hall) but even that didn't sell me. Just an OK read (and film) for me....
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Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by Anne (new)

Anne aww this makes me sad!! I have been very excited to read this because One Day was such an amazing book! We have similar tastes in reading, so I know I can trust you. :)


Gail It was a bit of a disappointment for me as well. Even the film was a bit of a downfall too (and I love James McAvoy so much that it literally pains me to say that!)


message 3: by Anne (new)

Anne Now I feel out of the loop! I had no idea there was a film about it! There isn't a library around my area with this book, so I was going to purchase it on amazon (used of course), but I guess I won't now! :( I do look forward to the movie One Day.


Becky Ive just finished it and couldn't agree more with your review - the characters were annoying to say the least and story predictable. Now I'm not sure whether I'll get his other novel The Understudy? Have u read that?


Gail Becky,
Nope. I probably won't have at it either. I so enjoyed One Day, and I think I should have left it at that! (though, I really expected the film to be better too! I love James McAvoy!)


Grace I agree with everything you said. Reviews have been raving about how you'll come to love Brian, and his wit. He did my head in! Far too cringeworthy. The sort of guy I want to punch. Starter for 10 = not a patch on One Day! (so excited for the film coming out this week by the way!)


Gail Grace, I'm seeing it tomorrow night -- fingers crossed it lives up to the book!


Pete Wyeth I felt exactly the same about this book. It held my attention but didn't captivate me like his other books.

The Understudy is fantastic though!


Gail I'll have to check it out. He hooked me with One Day (though, gawd..the film was a mess. Loved the book though)


message 10: by Pete (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pete Wyeth Really? I just finished reading One Day for the second time and I enjoyed it just as much.I want to watch the film just to see how it turned out but i dont want it to spoil my image of dex and em!


message 11: by Gail (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gail Yes, seriously, DON'T see the movie. It pains me so much to say that when I love both actors and I loved the book so much, but the film just couldn't translate over as well (the passage of time didn't work well like it does in the book--some passages felt rushed, others, not enough time devoted to them). Though, Jim Sturgess makes for a perfect Dex, I'll say that much!


message 12: by Lois (new)

Lois Actually, regarding the comments about "One Day", I have to slightly disagree. I loved the book, too, and even tho I only heard reviews like yours about the movie, I decided to try it anyway, and it was better than I expected. Granted, my expectations were pretty low, but I've seen much worse, so I'd give it a chance. If you loved the book enough, it shouldn't hurt your images of the characters. Just my opinion, anyway.


Barry Tipper I disagree, I really enjoyed Starter for Ten. But this is the great thing about opinions, they differ.


Lindsey I agree with you...underwhelmed and I won't see the film because I love James Mcavoy too!


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