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Days of Throbbing Gristle

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Does Heaven know you're miserable now?

It’s 1987. Sam Henry Hay, a 17-year-old exchange student from Sheffield, hops into Texas, USA, with one burning ambition: Manipulate his gullible host parents into funding his university, and leave his dead-end life in Yorkshire behind.

But is Sam manipulating America or America manipulating Sam? The clever lad schmoozes his way into many a bed and purse, yet can’t get rid of anyone. He executes careful plans, only to watch them disastrously fall apart. Worst of all, this once proud nihilist watches in horror as he reveals a conscience, in a world growing ever darker around him.

Days of Throbbing Gristle is not your typical teenage tale. It’s a razor-slashing journey through a time and place that really was as bad as you’ve heard. For some, high school is the best time in their lives. For others, it’s a miracle they make it to the other side.

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805 pages, ebook

First published April 16, 2014

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About the author

Kevin Cole

1 book98 followers
Kevin Cole was born in New York, raised in Texas, and now lives in Belgrade with his Serbian wife and their fat black cat.

Mr. Cole enjoys historical fiction, such as Gore Vidal, and fake historical fiction, like George R. R. Martin. He writes fake historical fiction set in the recent past.

Aside from making things up, Mr. Cole is fascinated by languages and economics, which have a lot in common with literature. "It's all made up," he likes to tell people, especially after the third beer.

Aside from here on Goodreads, Mr. Cole can be reached at kevincole.bgd@gmail.com. He promises not to push his book on you.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Harry Whitewolf.
Author 24 books269 followers
January 18, 2016
I’m buggered if I know why Kevin Cole’s writing drew me in as much as it did, but that only goes to show what a skilled writer he is. Best to avoid thoughts of technique and just go along for the utterly absorbing ride instead then.

You can’t help but use the term ‘coming of age tale’ for Days of Throbbing Gristle (what a great title!), ‘cos that’s what it is – but it’s also a hell of a lot more.

It’s 1987. Sam Hay, a 17 year old Brit from Sheffield, goes to Texas to study and live with a host family. And Sam, in many ways, and despite being a fish out of water, is your very average Northern teenager: tough exterior, sarky, witty, got an attitude on, thinks he’s better than his peers and elders, thinks he’s cleverer – and often he is, even though he delivers it all with callousness or cruelty. Yep, a regular Sheffield lad – only now he’s in big bad Texas. (And a lot of the time, instead of having 80s music in my head, I couldn’t help but instead hear the whines of the Arctic Monkeys.)

Music. Youth’s all about music, right? And it definitely has its place in this story – but it’s also the most non-relatable part of Sam Hay, ‘cos he doesn’t like music. What!? In fact, he’s not very much into anything, and certainly not the things his new mates are into – whether that be religion, expressing emotions through secret letter writing, or using drugs. So it’s not so much peer pressure that leads him into trying LSD, or the fights and antics, as much as it is his own desire, based on no one else’s recommendation. I mean, he doesn’t even smoke cigs or pot – nah, straight on to the hard stuff. Sam’s his own man. Knows better than anyone and will play people for the fools they are.

Sam doesn’t believe in love either. And he makes some clever observations as to why he doesn’t. Therefore it would seem that his bi-sexuality (not that Sam would call it that) is perhaps more to do with his attitude towards sex being just sex, than it is anything else.

Ultimately, I suppose, Sam is a narcissistic nihilist. Or is he? And, y’know, a lot can happen in the space of a year, where you’re shedding an awkward teenage skin and beginning to become a responsible young adult.

Speaking of Young Adult, I’d say this ain’t a book for teenagers as much as it is a book for the older reader, ‘cos it’s only in hindsight that we can all see teenage years for what they actually were. Strange then – or perhaps not - that the book’s first words are: ‘This is not a book for adults’. So, O.K, maybe teenagers will love it too.

We get to know Sam just as much by what isn’t said as what is, but this book is far from being all about Sam Hay. There is a vast array of characters that are displayed with just as much thought and depth – far too many to mention here, and all with their own stories. You’ll find unhappily married couples, nutters with camcorders, suicidal youths, Jehova’s Witnesses… and all these people and all their tales fit effortlessly together through strands of connections into one very satisfying whole.

There were a couple of things that didn’t work for me. This book has to exist as the long story it is, because it’s all about the detail, but I occasionally felt some parts dragged and it could have been cut down. And (sorry Kevin!) I felt the spiral notebook part of the book didn’t work for a few reasons.

But ultimately, the world that Cole creates is so complete that sometimes I forgot I was reading fiction. This book invites you to spend time with it. And I’m glad I did.

Profile Image for Lily Vagabond.
Author 10 books67 followers
December 10, 2014
The French call an orgasm le petit mort. The little death. But Sam isn't French and Days of Throbbing Gristle isn't little.

This is not your typical teenage angst story about the woes of fitting in. As Sam, a seventeen year old one man show of Dangerous Liaisons, would say, absolutely not. This is an epic novel about how an English magnificent bastard tries to manipulate America by not fitting in. Then America manipulates him.

Days of Throbbing Gristle (an old school industrial band back when industrial was defined as ten angry Belgium in a washing machine) is set in 1987, Texas. 80's references are expertly woven into both wonderful dialogue and excellent prose. There were times that I, a child of the 80's raised on Depeche Mode and My Little Pony, had to reread in case I missed a tiny gem of a reference. Wildly funny, refreshingly honest, thrilling unexpected adventures with sex, drugs and rock 'n rock, the story is interspersed with deep moments of reflections typical of any teenager who wonders, why the hell am I here? Deep and darker still, humanity at its worse.

And, as always, we never get the answers until adulthood. If any of us lived that long. Too many joined the 27 club and they're not here to tell you what really happened. Sam is here. He'll tell you everything.

I would name Kevin Cole the Thomas Hunter of the 21st century, but I'm not going to, because I'd like to see Mr. Cole live a lot longer.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,191 reviews110 followers
October 5, 2018
This book is epic, it feels like I have read a whole lifetime. I have deliberately taken my time reading this and it really helps you to get a grip on time passing and how Sam changes from the little dick he was in the beginning to a less annoying dick at the end of the book. I think reading this too fast will ruin the effect, you really need to savour it like I am with this bottle of red wine I found.

At the beginning I thought this was going to be a bit like catcher in the rye (do we have a new book for assassins to read I was thinking) Sam Hay was as annoying and arrogant as Holden Caulfield, but as time goes on you grow to almost-love him... then you find he hates Jack Kerouac and you hate him all over again but then you grow to almost-love him again.... and then he slags of your favourite band.... it goes on like that.

My two favourite parts in this book are:

1. Taking mushrooms in Karpis, this had me laughing big time, I ended up reading it in one sitting it was so good, Karpis had been mentioned a few times already in the story and it is well worth the wait. In fact it's so funny it gets a LMAO from me.

2. By far the standout point in the book for me is how the minor characters are treated, so often in books they get left in the background and you forget in time that they exist. But here they each get their big speech, you get to see them change over time, even Hammish who had hardly been in the book, you realise when he gets his big part that even he has grown. I think each character will stay with me for a long time.

AND as for the ending, it was an absolute shocker.

PS> I can't wait for the movie to come out so I can see all my favourite Donna scenes.

Blog post is here> https://felcherman.wordpress.com/2018...
Author 3 books3 followers
July 16, 2014
Days of Throbbing Gristle is a time machine trip back to the late nineteen eighties, an era best forgotten, when grown men dressed like preppy jackasses and hair bands held court on MTV. It was one of the low points in American culture, and in the suburbs south of Houston (Clear Lake by another name), it was even worse than that.

Into this void walks young Sammy Hay, a seventeen year old foreign exchange student from England, a man with a plan. He's hopped the pond as a coming high school senior, with the intention of convincing his host family to fund his studies at an American University-- and to leave his dead end life in England far behind. It's a simple plan, and for a bright, determined kid who idolizes Julius Ceaser and seems more than willing to manipulate the upper-middle class rubes who take him in, Sammy's collegiate destiny is a led pipe cinch. Or so you'd think. As it turns out, the one thing Sammy doesn't have all figured out is himself.

If that sounds like the synopsis of a happy-ending, coming of age Hollywood-type dramedy, it shouldn't. DOTG is one of the darkest, grittiest, most unpredictable things you'll lay eyes on. Sammy is no stereotypical hard-case with a soft underbelly, either. He is a decidedly strange teen who is deeply delusional about his own badness, a young man who wants desperately to be cold, and hard, and manipulative, but maybe just doesn't have it in him after all.

This plays out as the story unfolds, and in fact his non-cynical self is wholly unapparent at first. When Sammy steps off the plane from Heathrow into Houston he may as well be a human-hating space alien come down from the moon. He's picked up by his host family and thus begins a point by point takedown of southeast Texas and all that comes with it-- the hairdos, the accents, the tacky McMansions-- you name it, he insults it, and what he has to say is as hilarious as it is scathing. Nothing escapes his attentions or his seemingly dim view of all he surveys, and you are well into the book before you start to realize that for all his talk about objective distance from the yokels and his eyes on the prize mentality, Sammy is actually doing a very, very bad job of keeping things on track.

The problem is, Sammy is absolutely drawn to the people he ridicules and professes to despise. It's almost like some wannabe Nietzsche acolyte punching god in the face with his left hand and reaching out for spiritual comfort with the right. Except the comfort for Sammy comes in the form of the company of others-- not the adults, who in this novel are as soulless as their surroundings-- but his fellow teens. The kids, they still have something left in them, and in spite of himself Sammy falls in with everything from rednecks and metalheads to closeted queers and Jehovah's Witnesses (!), and even a group of suburban punk/new waver types who are absolutely clueless about damn near everything, but hilariously and maybe even beautifully so. To a one, they are bubbling cauldrons of confusion, sexuality and violence, and through Sammy we get about as deep inside their heads as you can go.

Needless to say the more time he spends with his fellow teens the more his grand plans begin to fall apart, in a darkly hilarious, train wreck kind of way. There is a Goth rocker poetry slam in an upper crust faux plantation home that will make you fall out of your chair. There are Houston trips, strip club trips, acid trips, Galveston trips, and trips to New Orleans and beyond. And then comes a brutal night with a lunatic metalhead out to pay a call on his none-too-faithful girlfriend... well, I don't want to give too much away.

DOTG is a thoughtful and very dark insight into the amorphous nature of the late teen, into the minds of kids at that strange age between juvenile goofiness and the phony young adulthood of college. For some folks I suppose it's the best time of their lives, but for others it's just a struggle to come out the other side, and not everyone makes it. As for Sammy, maybe he makes it after all. Or not. Read it and find out.
April 20, 2015
What I liked:
Reads like a crazy,long joyride straight to America,80's,with a bunch of very interesting people and punk rock 'n roll blasting on the stereo. Sam Hay,the nonhero is foulmouthed,dirty-minded,snarky,smart bastard. He's British. He's pimply and balding and ugly. In short,he's like a whiff of fresh air after breathing only exhaust fumes for days. Though I'm no qualified judge whether the book is 80ish enough or not,being that I was not yet a human until 1993,what I can testify to is the fact that I felt like I've time traveled myself. Kevin Cole did so well in describing that era,through loud music, bad hair,acid trips,psychedelic mushrooms,Mexican immigrants,high school clique, and family dramas. Also ,the humor is outstanding. Sam's descriptions and commentaries about people and places and things made me laugh and snort so hard I fear for the very mucus enveloping my brain.Even the ironic,foreshadowed ending worked for me.
What I felt could be improved upon(and this is just my opinion.Kindly ignore this Kevin)
The book is too long that the novelty of it is lost halfway through the story. I had a hard time it could all fit into one spiral notebook. There are some parts that I think could be done away,all of them some of the characters endless rantings.
I'm very grateful for my friend Kevin Cole for generously providing me a free copy.
I dared a friend to read the book out loud in public(preferably in a bus) and she accepted. Let's see what happens.
Profile Image for Andrea.
17 reviews93 followers
March 9, 2015
È stata una lettura lunga ma scorrevole, al vetriolo, non priva di colpi di scena, e che non mi ha mai annoiato.

I fatti sono narrati dal giovane protagonista Samuel Hay, inglese indigente che, orientato dalla sorella Portia, si trasferisce in Texas per poter conseguire il diploma, grazie alla gentile accoglienza della famiglia Turner.
Sam è ambizioso, scaltro, e tanto cinico da rasentare l'infamia (non per niente il suo unico idolo -a parte se stesso- è Giulio Cesare) e non manca mai di sfruttare queste sue caratteristiche nel tentativo di manipolare chi lo circonda per il proprio tornaconto.

Attorno al protagonista gravitano una serie di personaggi (estremamente ben caratterizzati), coetanei e non, dei quali Sam non manca di rappresentarci pregi e -soprattutto- difetti, dal suo sarcastico punto di vista, andando così a illustrarci in maniera vivida un pezzo di società americana di fine anni ottanta (e relativi riferimenti culturali, specie musicali).

Nonostante non sia un adoratore delle letture "coming of age" (adolescenziali?) -anche se forse sarebbe riduttivo relegarlo semplicemente a quella categoria- devo dire che il libro mi è piaciuto parecchio.
Tanto che non sembra affatto essere la prima - e unica - opera dell'autore... Kevin, per caso ci stai nascondendo qualcosa? ;D
Profile Image for Svetlana Jovanovic.
6 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2015
Still one of the best books I've ever read (and I've done some reading in my life). Since I ended up marrying the author, you could say it literally changed my life :)
Profile Image for Mike Robbins.
Author 9 books217 followers
March 27, 2016
It’s 1987. Sam Hay is a 17-year-old from a grotty part of Sheffield in England. His parents are dead, his sister a recovering alcoholic. Not a lot to lose really, so he enrolls as an exchange student and heads for high school in Houston, Texas. Totally amoral and nihilistic, he means to make his McMansion host family fund him through college. Along the way, he’ll slag off everything about them, their suburb, his American fellow-students and Texas in general while doing as many drugs as possible. What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a lot, as it happens. Over the course of this long but gripping book, Sam’s going to be slammed up hard against his own cynicism, and forced to think about values. But when he does, it might just be too late.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like Kevin Cole’s Days of Throbbing Gristle. (The title is likely significant, but more of that anon.) It is a tour de force on two levels. First, it certainly works as a coming-of-age story. The story’s told entirely through Sam’s eyes; it needs real skill to do character development that way, but Cole can do it. You start to see that Sam’s contempt for others, and his monstrous cynicism, come in part from anger. At some point Sam understands that too:

Wine-drunk, I acknowledged something I rather denied sober. Like an Alsatian finding a hole in the fence, a growing hostility within was escaping, and attacking passersby. I could definitely see its escalation.

It takes Sam a long time to accept what an utter shit he has been to those around him. In the meantime he uses someone for sex and then rejects them in a way that will have awful consequences. He also accepts the loyalty and friendship of others but despises them, and gives them nothing in return. Only at the end does he realize they might have understood him better than he thought. In particular, a friend shows him an acutely perceptive poem she wrote about him when they first met. At the same time, for all his cynicism, Sam is actually making a total mess of his life in Texas, cutting corners, dropping acid and dropping grades.

However, the book’s not just about Sam. It is also a quite savage look at 1980s Texas suburbia (I’m guessing this is where and when Cole himself grew up). Cole’s plot device of looking through the eyes of an English exchange student lets him describe it from an outsider’s viewpoint. He serves up a big parade of characters –a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a teenage gay tortured by his sexuality, skinheads, metal fans, strippers, struggling workers and assorted lowlifes, drug-dealers and drunks. The cast includes Sam’s soulless hosts, Neil and Donna – the latter, especially, is an authentic suburban monster. Yet in a series of casual conversations Neil has with Sam, you get to understand what has formed these people. In general, no-one in this book is two-dimensional.

Seeing them, and Houston, through Sam’s eyes also works because although he’s a shit, he’s a very funny one. He’s dragged to a rodeo:

But why we were at a bloody livestock exhibition, I hadn’t the foggiest. I could think of better things to excite deranged senses than wandering round an ammonia-scented fairground, gazing at cattle sporting epic lengths of snot hanging from snouts.

He handles it by dropping acid. Later, he does a stint at a fast-food joint:

‘Yeah, give me a Boxburger with no lettuce,’ a voice bordering on profound retardation cracked on the two-way system at the drive-through window. ‘I don’t want any lettuce, tomatoes or pickles, but I do want extra mustard, and you add a strip of bacon or two? Maybe even some peppers?’ ... we had to accommodate this gourmand who’d mistaken the Burger Box for the restaurant in Harrods.

The short-order cooks respond by including bodily fluids as ingredients.

But Days of Throbbing Gristle is also dark. The darkness seeps in via Scott and Iris, two drug dealers who have espoused a cruel form of film-making as a performance art and who preach a deep nihilism. Their chief acolyte likes to listen to the English punk band Throbbing Gristle. Cole doesn’t say so, but Throbbing Gristle were performance artists before they were musicians. Is he trying to warn us, through Scott and Iris, through Sam, that amorality, nihilism, selfishness and self-display are dead ends? Each reader’s going to work this out for themselves.

The book isn’t perfect. There are some text errors here and there – words misplaced or consistently misspelled (Cole writes very well and I think these are software glitches, not mistakes). Also, the book is long. It kept my attention, but some readers might flag a little.

Even so, Days of Throbbing Gristle is very good indeed. Sam and his friends are going to stay with me for quite a while, as will a lot of the scenes – the rodeo on acid; a tawdry lapdance; a day with petty crooks and people-smugglers; and Donna losing it with her teenage daughter. There’s also an unexpectedly lyrical sojourn in the Texas Hills; this was one of the best chapters for me. This is a savagely observed and very funny book, but it also has hidden depths, and a certain compassion for its characters. I hope there’s more to come from Kevin Cole.
Profile Image for Rebecca Gransden.
Author 14 books212 followers
February 20, 2017
I’ve been meaning to get to this for a while and I’m very pleasantly rewarded. A superb and epic trip into adolescent nihilism utilised as selfdefense. The central character of Sam Hay wants out of Sheffield, seeing his only chance for something better as relocating to anywhere that will educate him and is as far away from the city as possible. An opportunity arises, his only opportunity in his eyes, to stay with a Texan family as a live-in student guest and embark an educational life in the States. Leaving all he knows, including a colourful and devoted sister, he packs up and makes the move.

The real story of this novel is the representation of Sam Hay. There is an interesting tension created in making him the protagonist, as for a great deal of the book he demonstrates the callous and unforgivingly blunt extremes of behaviour fed by narcissism. Throughout, a finely tuned balance is played out, as Sam’s youth betrays the depth behind his acidic mask. He is cruel, but somehow not vindictive, the cutting nature of his barbs more a demonstration of a sharp intellect struggling to find a way to express its truths without giving in to numbness. This is fascinating to sit with for a time, if not always comfortable, especially as, like all great characters, he is a mirror on the embarrassing side.

This is a lengthy novel but mostly justifies itself. I found much to enjoy in the supporting cast of characters, and was glad that they were given space for their own development. The world Sam finds himself in quickly reveals itself to be the epitome of dysfunction, a world he had high hopes for filled with cracked people ready to play out their own agendas, ranging from the neurotic to the twisted. Amongst the negative play he manages to find some imperfectly flawed but genuine people, and the moments of connection that he salvages from the world and himself have greater impact as a result of his struggle as a character.

The sense of place is strong right from the start, with small details complementing wider descriptions, with the validity of the world tied directly to the characters and their relationship with it. This is faultless, to the point where it isn’t noticeable at the time of reading but becomes predominant in the mind on finishing the book. Great to be thoroughly transported and trust in that without effort.

To demonstrate internal growth in a character with so much invested in the persona they have engineered to deal with the world, superficially quite limited and alienating, is a real achievement, as is sustaining the goodwill of the reader towards a character that pushes everyone around him. It is the subtlety of the sense that Sam Hay is pushing himself as much as anyone else that saves him, and if you are a human who has pained their way through growth, as we all do, there is much to be gained from this perspective. Recommended.
Profile Image for Mary Papastavrou.
Author 3 books36 followers
July 24, 2016
This was an epic and as any epos it went for full blown maximalism and I don't just refer to its considerable size but to its dense context as well. An ode after another: to the confusion and naivete and cruelty and arrogance of youth. To the music (so many bands, so many from Manchester). To the cheerfully easy dogmas and cliches that sound sooo profound.
Mainly an ode to the main hero's obsession to act as a Pretension Police. Whatever trait the people around him display which departs from his pretty narrow minded pov is surely a Pretension. You are not allowed to possess signs of poetry and quirkiness, or God forbid emotion around him, you can't have philosophical and existential worries without being a phony and face his full fat contempt. I hate to admit, however, that in many instances he was dead right.
I don't agree that in order to get hooked into a text you necessarily need a sympathetic persona. Antipathy is also a powerful reason to stay with a character. And Sam is so easy to be disliked. He is such a non decent human being. Only that he dislikes himself and other indecent human beings like the gorgon Donna or the horrid duo of Revelation and Queasy. He dislikes most of whom he meets, so when he comes to actually like somebody, you pay extra attention to the character who earned his respect. The character automatically earns kudos with no need to do somersaults. When Sam displays hints of humanity you pay attention to the plot. Pretty clever mechanism Mr Cole. (But the whole achievement is to be congratulated anyway).
Another main preoccupation of the character is his highly developed aesthetics running alongside his amoralism. Ugliness bothers him. And the writer demonstrates ugliness so sharply with the Turner family, and more specifically with the character of Donna a hysterical, cruel and hyper authoritative hot matriarch.
The plot and subplots are very well narrated but the best thing about this novel is the construction of characters. Not very deep, but very rich and with lots of material to play with and expand. Sam is epic. Chelsea flirts with greatness. Paul is scarily real. Neil and Donna are superb.
Although the ending wasn't satisfying for me, for all the reasons above and the rest I didn't mention so I won't spoil the surprises, a full five stars. Cole rocks.

Profile Image for Alison.
141 reviews24 followers
March 7, 2016
I feel like I have just spent Sam Hay's entire last year at high school, and I didn't want it to end! This book is longer than I first anticipated it to be, and it took me longer to read than normal because I just wanted to savour every single moment of this dark, gritty and humorous adventure.

Sam is seemingly out of his depth, plunged into a new country/school/family, you think that he's going to have major problems fitting in. Wrong. Sam is a cocky, sarcastic, manipulative nihilist who is only interested in what he can get. But then sometimes, things don't go according to plan.

The characters are fantastically portrayed and the dialogue is excellent. There is a lot said while much more unsaid. The story is constantly forward moving (even when there's a back story) and the momentum builds with every chapter.

Some of the music references were over my head though, not that it took away any of the novel from me ... Some jokes you just don't get.

Overall, I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys dark humour and isn't offended by themes of sex, drugs or violence.

I look forward to reading more from Kevin.

Profile Image for Pepperpots.
189 reviews
December 31, 2014
Reading this book is like riding the wickedest roller coaster on a not quite empty stomach and then tripping up as you get off it.
Profile Image for J.S..
Author 2 books54 followers
June 18, 2014
Right. So this makes for quite the twisty, twirly ride of the absolute head scrambling variety; delighting in randomness and unpredictability.

Excellent stuff.

I can honestly say, I had little idea what the hell to expect the entire way through…as is my nature, I frequently theorised my ass off, taking stabbing guesses, but not once did I hit even close to the mark; this I found refreshing and infuriating, both.

DoTG is the fictional memoir of Samuel Henry Hay, recounting that pivotal first year following his move from Sheffield, UK, to Texas in the late eighties.

Against the backdrop of the life-defining music scene (specifically, God given Rock & Roll), a disenchanted 17yo Sam works through a stupendously eventful (and often hilarious) settling in period, where adventures –more to the point, misadventures –come thick and fast.

Odd, flawed and cynical (witty with it) …Sam’s is certainly a most intriguing head to squat in. Sparks of genius blurring with utter idiocy, equally as pretentious and delusional as he dubs his peers of being, I enjoy the love-to-hate reaction he evokes.

Likeable? Not so much. Relatable? Absurdly, very much so.

As for his supporting cast: all are given developmental attention. Each very unique personality -no matter how small, (from horrendously disturbing R&Q to self-absorbed Princess Chelsea)- has a backstory which acts to colour their reactions and behaviours, giving reason to their role.

Some of the situational drama edges into the bizarre and/or ridiculous, sure, but the skill in which it’s written earns it an easy pass. The comedic tone, strong dialogue and brilliant descriptive style blends to great effect.

And the ending? BOOM… WTH? That hit with impact. Still recovering.

So, ok, yeah: Not a quick, skimmable read by any stretch, this hefty coming-of-age novel (and yes, it is very much a long one) is layered and thought provoking in every aspect, well deserved of soaking-in time.

A few negatives (for balance, ya know):

Otherwise impressively tight writing is knocked a whack by typo slips and constancy errors (Words, sentences and- in one case- a full paragraph are repeated; Neil is occasionally spelt Neal; Jim and Joe suffer mix ups; Rebecca becomes Renée, to note but a few).

As much as I appreciate, and mostly enjoy, the side track stories giving the lovely depth to characters, I think, in some cases (such as Inocente), they veer way too far off, crossing into irrelevant territory. The book isn’t uncomfortable in its length but there are a few notable incidences where I think a brutal cut would have been beneficial.

The part in New Orleans felt overly convoluted –too much going on, all jumpy-jumbled together.

And, lastly, I do feel certain aspects and references lost me somewhat (I was 5 in 87). Some of these I resolved to rectify with a little research, others I settled with a grasp of the gist. Minor things, don’t feel it detracted, particularly…and pretty much reflects more on me than the story.

Drama, humour, action and villainous villains: Recommend, folks.

Profile Image for Laura.
723 reviews103 followers
February 6, 2015
Thank you so much to the author, Kevin Cole, for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Hmm. This book took me a long time to read. Almost as long as it took me to read The Book Thief although for a different reason. Or maybe I should be comparing it's length to Eragon or Lord of the Rings. Those are equally long books that took me forever to read but the ride was completely worth it in the end. Let me just say right now that picking up this book is an investment but if you're willing to make it, I think you'll learn something about yourself, the world, and just what people think behind their eyes.

The book is set in 1987. Now, I'm not all that familiar with that time period in American (and really world) history so I'm going to take a leap of faith and call it legit. From the little that I do know, it seemed to be a pretty accurate representation although I do question all of the drugs and crazy tape making that was going on. It definitely made for an interesting book however I'm not sure how realistic it is. If anyone is familiar with Texas culture in the 1980s, help me out!

So. I've already mentioned the length but I haven't talked about how it got that long. The book is in a sort of journalism form that documents Sam's first year in America. And he documents everything. That's what made it so tedious to get through. Overall, there was just a lot of content, a little more so than I think was necessary. It was a good read, just very very long-winded.

Now the characters were really something. I don't think I've ever read a book with a set of characters like this one (in a good way, don't worry). In a way, you could tell they all came from the same mind (they had a certain... element to them) but the author added a little something different to each of them. He made the main character Sam particularly interesting and with several glaring flaws in his morality. It was quite refreshing.

The beginning was the hardest to get through. it was a bit confusing because I didn't quite understand the journal element (genius I know) so it made it a bit confusing and he was so elusive about why he was there that at first I thought he was a spy or something (again, this is me forgetting to read the blurb again before I started reading it). So that's on me. And the ending. WHAT WAS THAT?! I can't believe the author put me through that! It was like the roller coaster going down that big hill and you think you've finally made it peacefully to the end when all of a sudden you drop 100 feet in an instant. In my English class, we're analyzing Virginia Woolf's essay's. This ending reminded me of her way of violently ending an essay before pleasantly stating what all went wrong in a total nonchalant voice. I loved it.

The Final Verdict:
This book is definitely an investment but if you have the time, I think it really is worth it just read something different. There was a bit too much content for my taste however. The cast of characters was very different and interesting and the ending was spot on torture :) I should warn you however, there is some explicit content if you don't like that sort of thing (17+ I should think).
4 stars

"I mean, you just don't see things like that in Pitsmoor, let alone wide open spaces this wide and open. For the first time in my life, I felt tiny."
Profile Image for Carla.
163 reviews20 followers
February 23, 2016
**I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review**

Sam Hay is not the typical book hero you'll just adore. Oh no, if you ask me, he's far from that.

This is the story of a British teenage boy looking for a better life in America, and how his plan of getting pretty much everything he wants by manipulating others doesn't really go as well as he thought it would. Along the way, we also see many important issues being addressed, like sex, drugs, religion and more. And, even though this takes place some decades ago, it just shows you that teenagers had to face pretty much the same problems young people nowadays have to deal with.

Sam is, well, pretty annoying I must say. He's really got an attitude problem and thinks he's superior to everyone else, that he's got everything figured out, treating others however he pleases. Although I sometimes got the feeling he was trying to hide his true self, and appear stronger than he actually was. He's very intriguing like that.

This is a long book, I spent quite some time reading it, but I'm very grateful I did. I felt like I got to see so much of Sam's life, and not just his, but we also read about the people around him and what comes from making bad choices.

I do have to admit he's pretty smart though.

It's amazing that I could read a book about a character I didn't like, and that actually made it really interesting. Definitely a first for me. I found myself thinking where he would mess up next, and wanting to see if life would come back to bite him in the butt, I was actually very excited. I just kept thinking to myself "Oh please, please, someone teach him a lesson! That's what this kid needs!".

There were certainly times when I found myself feeling kind of sorry for him if something bad happened... But then he'd open his mouth again... He's such a charming boy, ain't he?

But it turns out that life does ask for a little payback. He goes from being a jerk in the beginning of the book, to a little bit less of a jerk in the end. Hurray!

I also enjoyed reading about his friend Jill, but I seriously wanted to tell her to stay away from Sam. He's trouble Jill, step away. You're too good for him, girl.

Chelsea was also a very interesting character. She was kind of crazy, and I think she saw the world in her own way. Loved having her around. And then we also had Paul... Same thing I told Jill, man. Why do you keep following Sam and adoring him? Leave. Just go.

I didn't care too much about his host family though. Weird people.

Finally, that ending!! Wow... It did take me by surprise, and I was rather speechless. I love endings that leave me asking for more and that I did not expect! It's seriously very good.

Days of Throbbing Gristle is like nothing I've ever read before. That's for sure.

More reviews on my blog: Lipstick and Mocha
4 reviews
February 22, 2015
This long and enjoyable novel is about Samuel Henry Hay, a very troubled English teen who heads to America in the tail-end of the 1980s in an attempt to escape his poverty-stricken life in England. It's a coming of age story of a young manipulative boy who, through his failed attempts at maturity, his successful awakenings, his struggles of will power and domination by more powerful figures in his life, along with various fun and dangerous escapades, slowly becomes a young, more stable adult. This is no short fiction first novel; the author takes you through a year in the life of Hay as he attends high school in Texas as an exchange student. While the story is an immersive experience for readers, catching all the double entendres, musical and literary allusions is part of the tapestry of the story itself. (I hadn't even heard of the band Days of Throbbing Gristle before reading this book...)

After being in Sam's head all through the book, I found myself wanting a normal life for the protagonist, Samuel Hay. I recognized early on this was no fairy tale, assuredly, but wanted things to "work out" for the characters (they "deserved" it somehow). An American Happy Ending. Without giving anything away, I will say this intense roll coaster book will flip and turn the story and change, sometimes subtly, sometimes abruptly, your expectations of what is going to happen next. And it all fits together. Mr Cole does a phenomenal job of keeping the story on the same POV since the very opening scene, of evolving the characters while building the momentum and ensuring the story successfully sets up the next turn of events.

The book toys with the reader as much as or more than the characters toy with each other (expectations, assumptions and emotions). You'll cringe at things the young Sam Hays says and does, you'll laugh at his wit and perhaps you'll recognize your high school years in the "literary" notes passed between the characters as they quote really bad music lyrics with the passion only teenagers can truly feel with such terrible drama and narcissism.

This is the story of a young but already world-weary prat with venomous attitude wrapped around and inside him as a protective shield against a world he's come to know as uncaring and antagonistically ambivalent. And the moment that finally opens and the crack in that shield seems ready to open... well, read it yourself and find out.

I was very impressed by this book as a first novel. It captures the turbulent mindset of teens while offering some really tight, well-written and even quotable prose. I look forward to reading more from Mr Cole and recommend this book to anyone who wants to get fully immersed in a story.
Author 8 books97 followers
December 22, 2014
This book is a little twisted and not for the faint of heart, and a bit devastating to read, but I’d say it’s a solid account of the world that these characters live in.

The writing is also very intelligent and well-crafted – this book infers a lot and lets the reader work things out (hint – pay attention to clues), where it would have been so easy to overdo explanations and make the story a lot more blunt.

The characters are written boldly. They’re unique, and particular, and richly depicted, and they certainly evoke a whole bunch of emotions. Days of Throbbing Gristle is deep, is filled with complex characters who are all different shades of messy, and refreshingly strays from a rigid narrative formula. It’s also pretty disturbing – and I mean that in strangely good way, because the writing managed to effortlessly create that world in my mind when I was reading.

4/5 stars – but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Thanks to the author for providing a copy to review, although this didn’t impact on my review.

This review was originally posted on IndieYAYA, a review site for self-pubbed and Indie YA novels at: http://indieyaya.blogspot.co.uk/2014/...
Profile Image for Aly.
1,839 reviews56 followers
March 24, 2015
1980s here I come! This was book a blast to my past, sort of. I great up in the 80s. This long and enjoyable novel is about Samuel, a very troubled teen who goes to America in the tail-end of the 1980s to escape his life. I think the book gave me a lot to think about but it was engaging and fun to read. * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Aoibheann.
183 reviews6 followers
August 24, 2015

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review...

Review originally posted here


Sam Henry Hay is a 17yr old from Sheffield, who visits Texas in '87 as an exchange student in the hope of furthering his opportunities. Planning to swoon his American "Parents", he hopes to be able to swindle them out of as much money as he can whilst being the perfect addition to their family.

Sure of who he is and where he is going, he meets people all around who he views as manipulative opportunities. He knows exactly what to say/do to please them, and get what he wants.

Somewhere along his way, he realises he hadn't figured himself out as well as he thought, and everyone he has met has in someway changed/affected him. Now he looks at himself wondering if he classifies as an American, and lost himself in his journey...or has he finally found himself?

My Thoughts:

Ah, where to start!

Characters: The main character of Sam is an interesting one; he's extremely unlikable but hilarious to read about. His constant wit and sarcasm draws the reader in and one can't help but laugh at his manipulative abilities. He has such a great reading on everyone he meets, but yet can't figure himself out at all- something I enjoyed reading about as I think the majority of teenagers can relate to this. Although Sam documented each character he met in great detail, they all had enough idiosyncrasies to identify them. They all felt real and didn't necessarily have something huge attributed to them, so they could be related to as your everyday group of people. I also liked Heather; crazy in rebellion, I felt her presence helped refresh the heaviness of everything going on.

Emotion: When reading this I didn't think I'd feel much ups and downs. It all seemed either funny or just interesting but there were moments of sadness intertwined that added another level to Sam. He spends so much time presenting himself as one thing, it was interesting to read the visit he made to Glasgow with his sister to visit his parents' graves. It really helped solidify Sam as a real person who'd suffered trauma before arriving in America and presenting himself as a cold badass.

Plot/Story: I enjoyed reading Sam's journey. At times it lulled but I'll get into that after. I wasn't too sure what the story would actually involve from just reading the blurb but it was Sam documenting nearly his first whole year in America. It was great to see the clash of English/American use of language and slang and subtle cultural differences. There were a lot of apt references to make the 80's setting concrete, such as music and current affairs. Although, I wasn't around until 90's, I'd say a LOT of references went over my head, but from the little I did know, the inclusion was appreciated.

Pacing: This is one slight negative for me. I enjoyed reading a book that was of decent length however at times the story lulled a fair bit. I enjoyed the in-depth nature of Sam's recount, but some of the stories were hard to trudge through when they weren't really relative to the story. There was one chapter that was the one paragraph for pages and reading that many pages of chunk of text is quite trying. That aside, for the most part it was well done, with a gradual incline to the climax rather than rushing through bits.

Writing: I can't fault Cole's writing in this. Aside from some typos that are to be expected with ebooks, his technique is captivating. He has a sort of modern classic take and I loved reading a book that had words I had to look up!!! Nowadays so many novels are written with basic language whereas this was a challenging read. The ability to write in such a chaotic mindset for over 800 pages has to be congratulated.

Content: I enjoyed the constant debating in this. Harsh offensive jokes throughout that one has to brush aside, knowing a 17y/o male is not going to be sensitive, and certainly not Sam. The religious, homophobic and general sexual debates reflect similar to what is uttered today. At times, I got a little tired reading the Donna/Eisenhowers religious debacle and Jill preaching to Sam. I suppose religion is an old age argument and as I'm one of a passive nature, my personal patience on the topic has long since expired to read/listen/see religious sides argue when both parties are stubborn in their ways. Aside, the other themes are all relevant to a coming of age story.


This is a thrilling and whirlwind of a coming of age novel. Focusing on current topics although set about 30 years back, one can easily relate to the pressures and chaos of teenage life. One I think should be studied in school instead of dated classics, which hold no relevance to today's youth. Although one needs times to read, it's definitely worth it.
Profile Image for Gin Oliver.
11 reviews4 followers
October 29, 2014
If you’re whimsy for some 1980s reminisce? Days of Throbbing Gristle will be up your alley.

Samuel Hay is an aspiring scam artist with eyes on the prize of a decent education courtesy of Donna and Neil Turner – the wholesome Texan couple who have taken him in as part of an international hosting programme.

Sheffield born, bred and orphaned, at seventeen Sam is quite something. Self-assured, cocky-but-charming, intelligent with a sometimes cruel streak of confidence and perseverance – a beautifully refreshing change as a teenage protagonist. Perhaps Sam has reason to be angry and cynical at the world, perhaps he’s just saying out loud what every teenager thinks.

Overall, the themes in Days of Throbbing Gristle’s aren’t that dissimilar to other coming of age novels – you’ve got music, independence, righteousness, sex, religion and drug experimentation (delete as applicable to your good selves), its that they all feature within the plot creating, at times, contradictory scenarios that add depth, authenticity and tension. Such a potentially moody and brooding cocktail, Days of Throbbing Gristle has its moments where it gets dark. Sam’s reliability to end up in random and questionable situations, constantly provides an abstract to the seemingly wholesale family unit of the Turners and the Eisenhowers who the Turners disapprove of, so Sam naturally gravitates towards.

Of course Sam has a lesson to be learnt of himself, without doubt Cole’s writing is thoughtful and completely dedicated his eclectic mix of characters and the pearls they’re going to deliver. Having spent a number of years in Texas, though Cole won’t name names, there’s a edge to his writing that bells and whistles there’s some real-life experience mixing with his dedication to rich fiction.

I loved Days of Throbbing Gristle for its unabashed approach. Perhaps too much for some with its honest language and brazen views on topical themes such as homosexuality and religion, for me Cole’s novel is an alternative and refreshing reflection on the awkward teenage years.
Profile Image for Olena.
84 reviews37 followers
March 25, 2016

I didn't expect it would be difficult to write about this book. There are so many things I would keep to myself and won't expose in a review. I want to place this book on "transformational" bookshelf. Usually, whilst reading at least 15% of a YA book I can totaly predict the ending and it's quite boring. But this book is no ordinary YA book.

Characters in this book are realistic as hell. Neither good nor bad and you could relate to most of them. I had such friends. I lived in that world. And this is the very first book which embraced my teen years so precisely. Nostalgic roller-coaster. There where a moment when I was angry with the protagonist - because he disrespected my beloved Joy Division - but well that's the case of relating to a fictional character as to one of your real-life friends.

Genuinely, I enjoyed this journey. Like man, Kevin created a really likable Jehovah's Witness character. I can only imagine how difficult this can be. And he made me like Sam, the main character, who was basically ruthless. I didn't like him immediately or relate to him at once. To tell the truth, I hated him from the beginning. But eventually I started to understand and then like him. Even relate to him. But most of all things I really enjoyed author's writing style. It certainly added a lot to Sam's character.

This book would had changed my life if I were 17. But it altered my perception for sure. I'm really glad that I started this all book blog thing. If I hadn't I wouldn't get a chance to read this book. It's a shame it isn't translated and I can't recommend it to my friends.
But I surely recommend it to anyone else, I know you would enjoy it.
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 38 books435 followers
May 2, 2017
Okay so after a long weekend I finally finished this despite it being on my "Currently Reading" for almost a year! This isn't Cole's fault: big books take a daily pattern of reading to finish, and had I not been interrupted last year for whatever reason, I would've easily glided along this book's smooth-flowing prose to its awesome ending!

Sam Hay is a British gadfly on American soil, and it was a joy to see him clash and mesh with those around him across a final high school year. It's an accomplished novelist who can bring this many memorable characters into the story, weave them in, keep the pace going and keep all of them in play and have the reader remember who they are and build a story and... it's like juggling spinning plates. I'm super impressed.

For indie readers, this could easily be presented as a four-volume set. Then I wouldn't feel like a dick for being halfway through one long novel for almost a year, but satisfied for having completed two short novels in a series of four! I mean, by middle age, most of my favourite authors hanker for a book with a spine with their name on it that's about the width of their little weiners, so they get to writing something super long and even with them I'm just like nah. So if I didn't know of a new author and they only had one book this long—masterpiece though it is—I might need some help traversing it.

That said, you should check this one out if you enjoy well-plotted engaging realism with memorable characters :)
Profile Image for ★MC's Corner★.
965 reviews48 followers
November 17, 2015


*MC’s Corner*
• I’m on 13% I think and I already spent a time normally I’m not half of a normal book.
So yeah it’s really long.
It makes me want to grab a new book.

• I think it’s a bad idea to write a contemporary book with juvenile characters that is so long. I think when you write long book the best genre is fantasy and Sci/Fi.

• And honestly, maybe it’s a fantasy book. I’m just not in that part yet.

• And that is another gripe of mine… I have no idea where is the story going.
All I remember is a poor British boy who is fostered by rich American family and he’s trying to fit in.

Profile Image for Rachel.
161 reviews38 followers
September 28, 2015
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Fantastic! but oh. SO. Long! I really enjoyed the first-person point of view this was written from, and the “thanks for reading my spiral notebook” gimmick was really great. However, that said, this book has ninety-three chapters! That’s a lot even by my Dickens-loving standards.

Check out the rest of my review here: https://raeleighreads.wordpress.com/2...
January 23, 2015
I couldn't keep on reading it,It's not my type.
Though I kinda liked the main character at some point.
It also had some quite good quotes.

Profile Image for Erika.
301 reviews10 followers
June 24, 2015
May I be the first to say what an dark and gritty adventure this book as been. I had no idea what I was walking into when I read the first page, and now that I know, my thoughts are just whoa. This is not your typical teenager story; it's far from it. It is a smart, cunning, throat-cutting story with pockets of the reality dangers and risks during 1987.

Days of Throbbing Gristle tells the story of 17 year old Sam, who escapes from his dreadful life in England to Texas, America. His plan? Get an American high school diploma and all while manipulating his host family into paying his future university tuition. Shouldn't be too hard, right? And Sam is exactly the kind of person to do that: he's smart, charming like people expect Englishmen to be, good at school, and he knows how to get on people's good side.

But not everything goes the way he planned it to. American culture slowly starts gnawing away at him, and Sam slowly finds himself on the other side of the fence. Sex, drugs, attitude: we get to see how each and every one of them affect him. Slowly, everything starts spiralling downhill, and the bigger question becomes this: does Sam still have the same goal he did at the beginning, with everything falling apart?

The author brilliantly paves American culture as being a powerful foe. Sam is caught up time and time again with temptation and other sticky situations, some willingly and others not so willingly or expected. Though Sam started out with clear goals of manipulating his host family, the goal becomes muddied as American culture starts to take a hold on him. We begin to wonder: who's the true manipulator here, Sam or America?

Apart from dealing with the dangers of American culture, this book also addresses other issues. Dysfunctional families, clashing religious views, fitting in, coming out as gay, dealing with different types of friends, revenge, everything. Its themes are dark, and they really get you thinking, especially about some of the choices specific characters make.

I particularly liked the deterioration of Sam's host family, the Turners. They begin off as your typical American family, with Mr. and Mrs. Turner thrilled to have Sam staying with them, all while battling with their adolescent and moody daughter, Heather. Sound familiar? You may say yes, but it's far from it. As the plot thickens, we begin to see bits and pieces of how exactly this family isn't really perfect or right. It escalates, and we get to watch exactly how it affects each individual member of the Turner family, until we're left wondering whether there's any hope for salvation for any of them. Or if some of them even deserve it, and if so, who.

There's a striking battle between religious views in this novel. The Turners, or more particularly Mrs. Turner, is strictly against the religious views of Sam's friend, Jill. The whole I-don't-want-you-hanging-around-any-of-those-people bad. Needless to say, Sam doesn't exactly listen, and good for that too, because Jill is an extremely valuable friend. I really liked Jill, as she brought out the good in Sam. Whenever she was there, I felt like things would be okay in the end, even when things ended up south.

We get to see a wide cast of characters and personalities in this book. You have people with different sets of morals, and because of it, they lead their lives in different ways. Sam doesn't just interact with his fellow schoolmates and host family; he gets out, meets people at parties, picks a few fights, becomes associated with people he shouldn't be, and does a few things that probably were best not done. But because of this, we're introduced to tons of people, and their backstories, and it's easy to see the difference between these people. These characters are very well thought-out, and I give kudos to the author for developing such interesting and complex characters.

The issue of being gay is also addressed in this book. Sometimes people come out, sometimes people don't. And for those that do, you have families who are okay with it, and families who aren't. Which means that there's about a 50/50 chance of said person being able to remain the same as they were before. Not everything is easy in the world, after all, and if you do something wrong to the wrong person...well, it might come to bite you big time later on. Which sort of links to the theme of revenge, in the sense that it can have extreme consequences. Something that Sam comes to realize, for better or for worse. (Worse. Definitely worse.)

The ending. THE ENDING. I'm still reeling a little bit. This links back to some choices that Sam made involving Paul. I won't go into too much detail here, but let's just say that a lot of things go down by the end of the novel. It was devastating for me, and it really showed just how far people can fall. I understand why said person did what he did, and I think his actions are very true his character, given all the events he went through. But it doesn't make it any easier to come to terms with what just happened. I'm still in denial that those things happened, because I did not see that coming. Okay, well, maybe I did a little bit, but not all of it. Shock factor is at a 5 for me.

So if you're looking for a dark, gritty, and twisted adventure that will leave you reeling from an emotional roller coaster, then you should definitely pick this book up :)

Books, Stars, Writing. And Everything In Between.
Profile Image for Sinead.
590 reviews80 followers
July 3, 2015
This book is also on my blog Less Reality More Books

I had the opportunity to read this book as requested by the author himself. This book is not your typical tale of teenage angst and growing up in a foreign environment. While some people can easily navigate the world around them with ease and get through life without suffering, others find it more difficult. It brings to mind this quote:

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid on the broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming: ‘Wow, what a ride!’”

That is exactly what happens throughout this book. I honestly had no idea what I was walking into when I agreed to read this book. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I can tell you it definitely wasn’t what I read.

It tells the story of Sam, a 17 year old English teenager who manages to find a host family to live with in Texas while he completes his final year of school. He’s got a fairly simple plan: graduate school while influencing his host family into paying his college tuition. Sam is sneaky, manipulative and a little cruel, but he knows how to get people to give him what he wants. And he does this well.

However, Sam’s English upbringing did not include being influenced by the people and culture of Texas and he soon begins succumbing to every peer-pressure influence around him: i.e. sex, drugs and alcohol. Sam soon has to ask himself if he still wants the same aim he arrived to Texas with, or has this way of life changed him?

If I have to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy Sam’s character. I felt he could be intentionally cruel to people that didn’t truly deserve it and the fact that he came to America with the sole intention of scamming his host family says quite a bit about his character. I enjoyed the side characters a lot more than I did Sam himself.

Many issues are discussed in this book such as religion, homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, dysfunctional families, the works. The fact that this book is set in the eighties mean that people aren’t as forgiving as they are now about one’s sexuality or religion. There’s no waving of a rainbow flag here, anyway.

I felt this book was good. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. To be honest, it probably had a lot to do with my personal tastes, not the writing or the story. I didn’t really enjoy Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, but that’s because I'm not a huge dystopian fan, not because Marie Lu is a bad author. I think you’ll enjoy this book is you’re into history and are nostalgic for the eighties. The characters can be quite manipulative but they’re also realistic in their portrayal.
Profile Image for Neats.
325 reviews
August 9, 2015
I really didn't know what to expect when I received an email from author Kevin Cole with the heading "Book Review Request - Days of Throbbing Gristle" but I was very intriuged after I'd read the blurb and due to my love of big books (this one has over 800 pages!) I decided to give it a go.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I don't usually post the synopsis but I'm making an exception for this book as it will give you a much better overview than I could.

Does Heaven know you're miserable now?
It’s 1987. Sam Henry Hay, a 17-year-old exchange student from Sheffield, hops into Texas, USA, with one burning ambition: Manipulate his gullible host parents into funding his university, and leave his dead-end life in Yorkshire behind.
But is Sam manipulating America or America manipulating Sam? The clever lad schmoozes his way into many a bed and purse, yet can’t get rid of anyone. He executes careful plans, only to watch them disastrously fall apart. Worst of all, this once proud nihilist watches in horror as he reveals a conscience, in a world growing ever darker around him.
Days of Throbbing Gristle is not your typical teenage tale. It’s a razor-slashing journey through a time and place that really was as bad as you’ve heard. For some, high school is the best time in their lives. For others, it’s a miracle they make it to the other side.

I must admit that it took me a little while to get into this but once I was I found myself quickly clicking through page after page on my kindle.

All of the character's are very realistic and well written. There's Sam, who is sarcastic, manipulative, dark and cynical; Donna Turner, the host mum, who is, to put it bluntly, an unscrupulous bitch; Heather, the petulant teenage daughter and Jill, the unpushy Jehovah's Witness. Despite the huge diversity of these character's they all come together extremely well.

This is far from your typical coming of age/ YA novel. I loved the fact that there was nothing predictable about it compared to other novels from this genre and it covers a vast array of topics including religion, drugs and homosexuality but they were all there for a reason and not included for effect as I've seen previously.

Overall I enjoyed reading this but I did feel that it was overly long in parts and some of the 'side stories' although great to read, could have been left out without detracting from the main plot. That aside, Kevin Cole has written a well constructed, humourous, historical, epic and even poignant novel which is well worth reading if you have the time and inclination to fully devote yourself to it.

With kind thanks to author Kevin Cole for my review copy.
Profile Image for David Baird.
463 reviews18 followers
March 27, 2015
Full disclosure I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a honest review.

First of let me tell you this book a quite long. Over 800 pages which is the longest book I've read but It is well worth reading.

The book follows Sam as he moved to the US to begin a new life away from Sheffield and is a coming of age tale with quite a lot of subjects thrown in. This is one of the main reasons I loved the book. How can you get bored with so many topics being examined by the author. Kevin Cole tackles drugs, sex, religion to name but a few. Personally i feel this gave great depth to the book as it made it feel real

Along Sam's adventure we meet a number of characters and you see how he outwardly deals with them while also knowing his inside thoughts and feelings. As the novel is quite long this gave Kevin a great chance to deliver with the character development and boy did he. You see relationships grow and change and if anything i was kept guessing at what next would happen.

I'll admit from the synopsis i really didn't know what to expect from this book and when i noticed it was over 800 pages i was a little daunted at the prospect of reading it but Kevin managed to hook me quickly and kept me reading. Most books i might put down after an hour or so but i found myself reading for longer without noticing the time passing.

For fear of spoilers i don't want to give too much away but i wasn't let down by how the book finished but nor did i expect the ending we were given. Such is Kevin's style of writing that he left me with no clue what was going to happen from chapter to chapter and this made it the brilliant read it was

So i think I've given the book enough praise.. now to nit pick. Being such a long novel inevitably you are going to find some inconsistencies. There were a couple typos and places where i thought names might have been mixed up but really nothing that affected my reading

That's it really.. what more can i say..Sam is a brilliant character, you'll love and hate him at the same time. If you are a fan of reading longer novels then i would definitely recommend this. The same goes for anyone who is either stuck with deciding what to read next or like me wanted to try something outside of their usual genre.
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95 reviews8 followers
August 15, 2015
Alright so when I started reading this book I loved how the main character was our narrator for the whole book. I loved how sarcastic and snarky he was. I also loved him because my husband is English and a lot of the things he said just sounded like a regular day in my house. It was great to have a main character that was real for me. It's so hard to relate some characters when they are all happy and get what they want.

I was enjoying this book as I was reading it. About half way through I was little confused about Sam's sexual orientation and by the end it wasn't much better. But I am just the kind of person who wants it straight forward. You are either gay, straight or sing both ways. I could never get a feel on him. But some others could I am sure.

I did love some of the other characters as well. Jill was awesome and I loved how while she was a Jehovah's Witness, she was not shoving in down Sam's throat. Yes, she did talk about it but she was respecting his right to not be converted. I loved her family as well. It was just nice to see some that were talking about their faith but were not telling Sam he had to convert.

Now all this being said, I hated the ending. I was truly pissed when I got to the last part of the book. I loved everything until you get to the last few pages. I was so angry when I got done with the book that I had to wait a little bit before I started writing this. I just didn't want to taint all my feelings with how the ending left me.

Pros: I loved the 80s references, they were spot on. I loved most of the characters.

Cons: The ending left a bitter taste in my mouth. I think there was some parts that could havebeen left out, just to help the story along.

Over all rating: I think that I have some people who would read this and love it, so I would recommended it to others. It just left me with a lot of unhappy thoughts.
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