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Bright Young Things

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,852 ratings  ·  299 reviews
'Bright Young Things wanted for Big Project.' They're in the prime of their lives but our bright young things are all burnt out. Six sparky twenty-somethings just out of university and working dead-end jobs, they are all bored to tears with their lives and looking for a way out. When a mysterious job is advertised in the newspaper, they all apply. What they least expect is ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 2nd 2001 by Hodder Paperbacks (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,852 ratings  ·  299 reviews

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Gretchen Rubin
I so admire the work of Scarlett Thomas. How could I pass up a book about six young people stranded on a deserted island? No kidding, that's truly the subject of this novel.
Wiebke (1book1review)
I think I'm falling in love with Scarlett Thomas' books! Bright Young Things was a really surprising read about nothing. No seriously, nothing really happens in the book. The book mainly relies on the characters talking. And they talk about nothing and everything: TV shows, videogames, life, love, sex etc.
This sounds boring to you? Then don't read this book.
If not, let me tell you, that the characters are in their mid twenties and sort of lost in their own life after graduating from university.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
I normally enjoy stories that start with a mystery and have a good twist. From start to finish, though, I disliked this book. Unfortunately, I have a rule about finishing ones I've started. The plot is clumsy, the suspense lacking and the dialogue is cringe-worthy and exhausting. The characters are flat and don't develop much at all, and the story falls flat then ends without warning. Much like this review.
Victoria Rose
What is this genre?


I really liked Scarlett Thomas's End of Mr Y, so I've been on the lookout for more of her work. End of Mr Y was bizarre - sciency, academic, sexy drugged up magical realism with mice. Obviously it was fantastic.

This one is still weird but not in the obvious ways that Mr Y was. The general story is that 6 young people find themselves on a deserted island with no idea why. That's it. That's the story.

In the introduction to the novel Thomas describes how this book will become
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Starting a Scarlett Thomas book gives me the same warm glow as putting cold feet into warm slippers, curling up on the settee with a liquer coffee after a hard day or hearing the opening tune of your favourite weekly drama series. Pure pleasure! After 50 plus years of reading 100s if not 1000s of books, I think Scarlett is my favourite author. There is something so comfortable and familiar about her opening sentences; its like meeting an old friend.

This book did not disappoint even though it is
Nov 10, 2010 rated it liked it
This is one of Scarlett Thomas's earlier novels, published in 2001 (and set in 1999). As I've read the author's books in almost reverse chronological order, and found the most recent - Our Tragic Universe - to be the best, I wasn't sure what to expect from this, particularly when I began reading and realised it's written in third person (I just have a personal preference for first person narratives, plus all three of the other books I've read by Thomas have been written in first person). But the ...more
Beth Lemin
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was really enjoying this book until the last page. I'm so glad it was only 20p on Kindle. I would have regretted paying the full amount. The whole concept of the book was enthralling and somewhat originally done, but the ending ruined the whole thing for me. I was unsatisfied and left feeling like the ending was written in 10 minutes. I didn't have some sort of epiphany like some others seem to have done. The characters were underdeveloped, unlikeable and at times unbelievable. I'm just going ...more
Judith Ree
Oct 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Slow start...hoping it'll get better, especially with the very tiny print I'm putting up with!

Gave up halfway. Had no idea where it was all going and the characters weren't engaging enough for me to persevere. $13 down the drain!
Ann Jenelle Rotol
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Erm, ok – if you are dead set on reading this, you may want to know this:

First off, feel free to skip the Preface. It’s not just spoiling some of the story, it’s also very tedious. So, save your strength for the long, long, long and very tedious dialogues that are to follow(view spoiler).

Secondly, it might not be all wise to read this whilst sober or otherwise in a clear state of mind, especially not if you are a practical person. You know,
Hayley Green
Jul 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't have much to say about this book except I can now see why it was free. To be fair, it's a good IDEA for a book, just a shame the book itself was so terrible. It was interesting for about five pages (around page 263 if i remember correctly), they talk about masturbation every single chapter, it's so random and unrealistic AND THEN you get to the end of the book, realise the book had no ending, nothing is resolved, and you've just wasted several hours of your life. Don't waste your time ...more

It was interesting for a while, a group of people applied for a job and woke up in an island, not knowing how they got there or how to get out. I wanted to keep on reading but I didn't like the characters. if I was trapped in an island with some blokes I didn't know I wouldn't flirt with them or think about getting laid. I would actually try to get the hell out. Instead these people talk about their favourite TV shows and video games, which wasn't very fun. I also read a review saying that
Nikki Marshall
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and would have given it 5 stars if it wasn't for the disappointing ending.

The book is set out with chapters titled by characters names until they all mysteriously find themselves together. From then the book is chaptered by number but with the perspectives shifting with each new chapter.

I liked the diversity of the characters and the fact that they each represented certain 'types'. For example, Thea was the anxious, over thinker type, Emily was the middle-class,
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Bright Young Things is a novel where six twenty somethings are essentially abducted and stranded on an island after all applying to take part in the 'Bright Young Things' project. The island contains ample food and other resources, but it is remote and with no clear way of leaving.

Now with that premise one would naturally expect a plot full of mystery and tension as six young people try to figure out the meaning behind their abduction and, crucially, how they are going to free themselves from
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lets be honest, there's barely any kind of plot going on here, this novel is basically an excuse to get six characters together in a strange isolated situation, talking about little but pop culture. In the introduction, Scarlett herself admits the plot element was basically begrudgingly added at her publisher's behest, and the conclusion barely deserves being recognised as such. Luckily, though, the dialogue flows with the kind of believability, grace and fluidity that Tarantino used to get in ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nothing happens in this book outside of the plot summary you can find on the back of the book. I really wanted to like this novel, but the characters were obnoxious, the entire plot was them talking about pop culture and masturbation, and then the book just ends mid story.
J.T. Wilson
Six twenty-somethings reply to a job advert seeking "bright young things" and, after an introductory vignette each, journey to Edinburgh for the interview. Next thing they know, they're marooned on a desert island together. Well, sort of: they're in a nice, well-provisioned house, but it's still on an island which is otherwise unoccupied. How did they get there, and why?

This might all sound a bit 'Big Brother'/'Lost' but it pre-dates both properties. Moreover, despite the plot summarised above,
Grace Harwood
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I bought this for twenty whole English pence for my Kindle because it sounded alright - I didn't have any strong feelings either way about it, but I thought for 20p, I couldn't really go wrong. The book began with an introduction from the author which to be honest, nearly put me off reading the entire book. It was a load of pretentious waffle about how she had thought up the idea for Big Brother/Castaway first and so on, and so on, and what her book really MEANS. It might be the case that she ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was originally written in 1999, but this edition was reprinted in 2014 to include a blurb from the author. In it, she says:

"I wanted it to be a kind of time capsule that you could open ten years, twenty years, fifty years later and be surprised both by the things in it that still exist and by the things that are only faint memories."

Mission accomplished - this was a delight for a nostalgia junkie like me.

A newspaper ad seeks "Bright Young Things" - no more information. Out of all the
Rachel Burton
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I usually love Scarlett Thomas but this one less so. This was her first, repackaged to sell on Kindle. Written during the late 90s during the zeitgeist of reality tv shows like Big Brother and Survivor (she insists she wrote the book before seeing either of those shows) we end up with six twenty somethings on an island.

Unfortunately none of those twenty somethings are remotely likeable and you kind of don't care what happens to them. Lots and lots of lovely late 90s British pop culture though
Shalini Menon
Oct 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book is awful. I simply cannot understand why anyone would rate this positively. The story line had such great potential, I was totally captivated by just picking it up in a bookstore and reading the backcover!! Little did I know what horrid storytelling I was in for. The story felt dragged out, then rushed, dragged out then rushed. The ending was so disappointing there aren't even words... there basically wasnt ending, just something she scrapped together in half an hour before she had to ...more
The plot of this early Scarlett Thomas novel is like “And then There Were None” meets “The Breakfast Club”; six young strangers in the late 1990’s find themselves mysteriously stranded on a remote island where they have been expected as there are 6 prepared ensuite bedrooms, clothing, plenty of food, drink laid on, etc. While the 20-somethings try and figure out why they have been brought to the island, they also bare their souls to one another. This is definitely the weakest book in my opinion ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, keepers
I'm so glad they've re-issued this as I'd been trying to get hold of a copy for years. I think the fact that the book is full of pop culture references from the late 90s actually made it a more interesting read so many years on. It made me completely nostalgic and was really fun (5IVE!!)so I'm sort of glad I didn't read it until now. And the author's introduction was great at putting it in context.

At first I was really annoyed at the ending but the more I think about it, the more perfect it
Beth (bibliobeth)
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I have read from Scarlett Thomas and I'm becoming a firm fan. Six "bright young things" have gone on the job interview to hell. To a deserted island with no idea how they got there or their purpose in being there. The author kept me interested all the way through, and I really enjoyed that no character was "perfect." This made the story unique and added more credibility.

Please see my full review at
Matt Weir
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
An intriguing concept that falls flat on it's face due to countless pages being "padded out" with exhaustingly monotonous dialogue.
It was like I was sitting on a train being forced to listen to the conversation of two other very boring people. I think I spent 3 or 4 pages reading about soap opera story-archs from the 90s.
Who would do that for entertainment?!
Donnamarie Mackay
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Was quite intrigued by this book but was slightly disappointed, I think it had the basis of being a classic novel but all the potential was in vain. The characters were mere shadows of what they could have been and the story had no real point of poignant conclusion. Could have been so much better.
Bee Halton
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The best book I have read in a long while....
Oct 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Kept waiting for something to happen but never did!
Kelly O'Mara
Silly, fun, quick read. Kinda didn't make sense towards the second half, but whatever.
Jonathan Jasinski
Unlike many other reviewers, I found the slow exploration of these characters rather enjoyable. It just kinda worked for me- the dialogue was well done and true to life, the plot intriguing, and the whole thing was just kinda interesting.


6 reasonably impressive young'uns end up on an island after answering a job posting and have to figure out what the heck is going on. That's.. that's the story. And it works for the most part, it's plausible enough and it's worthwhile seeing the
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Ending 7 37 May 03, 2014 12:08PM  
explanation ***Spoilers*** 2 23 Feb 25, 2013 11:15AM  

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Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. Her widely-acclaimed novels include PopCo, The End of Mr Y and The Seed Collectors. As well as writing literary fiction for adults, she has also written a literary fantasy series for children and a book about writing called Monkeys with Typewriters. Her work has been translated into more than 25 languages.

She has been longlisted for the Orange Prize,
“They really do have nothing in common on paper, these people and him. But yet there are so many common reference points; even some unexpected ones. . . .they all want to be cool. And they're all scared but no good at showing it. . . . [t]hey all know how to act cool. after all, life's pretty scary most of the time. And the number one skill you need out there is how to show no fear. . . . Stay calm. Don't let people see that you are shy or nervous. If you watch a horror film, remember to laugh. If someone else seems scared, laugh at them. In the real world, danger is either fantasy, in which case you laugh, or too real, in which case you ignore it.” 2 likes
“If life wasn't going to be like a Hollywood film, there was only one option: fuck life and rent the film instead.” 1 likes
More quotes…