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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,464 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Bad is the new good. In the not too distant future the European Union enacts its most far reaching human rights legislation ever. The incompetent have been persecuted for too long. After all it's not their fault they can't do it right, is it? So it is made illegal to sack or otherwise discriminate against anyone for being incompetent. And now a murder has been committed an ...more
Paperback, 291 pages
Published 2004 by Gollancz (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,464 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Dec 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of satire, Red Dwarf fans
Incompetence begins fabulously, and I'm not just talking about the first page, or even sentence. Take a close look at the cover: notice the misplaced "e"? That's what caught my eye at the bookstore, and having never before heard of Rob Grant, I bought the book based solely on the strength of that cover alone. "Surely," I thought, "anyone who can purposely misspell the word 'incompetence' on the cover of a novel is a writer to be dealt with." In many ways I was right, but in many ways I think thi ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably the most sarcastic book I've ever read. Could not stop laughing. ...more
Nov 20, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've been keeping this book on my "currently-reading" shelf forever because I wanted to give it a worthy review, with examples of all the things that led me to believe that this is the worst book I've ever read.

What a shame that a good idea can turn out mediocre because someone didn't have the patience to work on it properly. I've noticed that a lot with books and movies recently. I was so eager to read this book after I saw it in the bookstore. I expected something splendidly satiric from it, b
Angus McKeogh
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I actually started this book a while back and never added it to my “Currently Reading” list because frankly I was afraid I wouldn’t finish it. It was a slog. Coming from one of the Red Dwarf authors I was expecting brilliance. Brilliance it is not. I churned along through 3 or 4 minute chapters until I reached the end. There were a few chuckles but the whole concept just got tedious and superfluous. About as close to one-star as it’s possible to get without reaching that level. As I said, there ...more
Derelict Space Sheep
This must have made for a good pitch—a hardboiled detective story set in a society where incompetence is protected by law—but Grant would have done well to keep the first-person narrative straight and let the inherent humour speak for itself.
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who get sarcasm (i.e. not Americans)
The author obviously has a flair for writing. Unfortunately this flair may be limited to haiku, as on or about the eighth line I started to get sever pain in the front right lobe of my brain: This is the first time I have ever experienced deja vu as other than an existential event.

The first chapter was tough going. The author has a particular style and likes to hammer it home paragraph after paragraph remorselessly. Things got better for me further in, but I think this was a combination of my ac
Thomas Jancis
May 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who want a fun read.
Recommended to Thomas by: Foggy
This, according to a friend, was the funniest book he had ever read. He had been looking for it for years. As we walked away from the shop, he was chortling away as he read.
It was funny but the world’s best? I guess it must be more about the time he read it.
Nothing really “happens” in this book. The love interest just “is” and appears in one scene. The great mystery of the killer is kind of obvious.
But you’re not reading this for the biting plot. You’re reading it for the setups and moments of h
Adam Whitehead
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the all-to-near future, the European Union is well on its way to becoming a single federalised state. Unfortunately, due to the passing of Article 13199 of the Pan-European Constitution ("No person shall be prejudiced from employment in any capacity, at any level, by reason of age, race, creed or incompitence,"), the continent is grinding to a halt. One detective is assigned to track down a dangerous killer, but finds his investigation complicated by blind nightclub bouncers, octogenarian mal ...more
Jonathan Jasinski
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
A promising premise that falls apart halfway through. It had some genuinely hilarious moments in the early stages, but somewhere around the train scene it just seems rushed, lazy, repetitive, and lackluster.

In the near future Europe in unified and it's illegal to discriminate against anyone for anything. Solid idea- it seems a bit like political hyperbole, which made me a bit wary, but it's a friggin fiction, I won't read into it and think it really represents Grant's views on the current direct
Mike Allen
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, verified
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Incompetence is a comedy noir-esque novel by Rob Grant, best known for his work as one half of Grant Naylor, the writers of Red Dwarf. Set in the near future where United States of Europe Article 13199 has banned basing hiring and firing practices on a person's competence level, Harry Salt - deep undercover agent for an British/European intelligence agency - has to unravel the mysterious death of fellow cell member Klingferm, committed by the anonymous and dangerous Jack Appleseed.

If that sounds
Geoff Battle
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Incompetence is full of great humour, witty one liners and amusing thoughts. Rob Grant has a unique and old school sense of humour, which is undeniably English to the core. Incompetence is a great showcase for Grant, unleashing his style in a futuristic Europe, where stupidity is norm. Incompetence fails in the long term though. Despite the persistent humour, the actual story is rather mundane, through to a rather routine finale. With a better structure this book could have been great, however a ...more
Petri Saarela
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, dystopia, detective
I read Incompetence first around 15 years ago and remember loving it to bits. The idea of a detective story in a world where stupidity, irresponsibility, incompetence and lack of common sense are the prevalent attributes of humanity was awesome, and in my youthful, naive belief in the future of mankind I thought the story was just an awesome cynical rant and satire.

Now, I relate to Harry and his struggles in a much different way. It's not alternate reality if we're actually living it. Incompeten
As crime thrillers go this is not good. For comedy and predicting the future... SPOT ON!
Set in a future wherethe european directives state that "anyone regardless of their ability or disability can have a job. This involves waiters with torrets, a ticket clerk at the airport with attention defecit disorder and on it goes.

Just imagine a very OCD person committing the perfect crime :)

A fun read but a bit repetitve hence the three stars.

Nearly made it five stars having been set in a EU where speak
David Day
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, firstly, is this a good book? Yes...very mature authorship: fine writing and colourful scene-setting.

Rob Grant combines a deep-seated annoyance of modern life, with a journey through how a United Europe may look, to a rip-roaring, hi-octane mission of a detective/spy named Harry.

One minor criticism: the section where Harry tries to catch the train, goes on and on. ‘Longueur’ as the French would say!

However, in the round, most enjoyable and well recommended - a weaving raconteur; another
Malcolm Frawley
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Not a Red Dwarf novel but packed with the humour Grant (& Doug Naylor) have made their own. We begin in a world where people are imprisoned for selling bananas that are too yellow & planes that miraculously arrive at the right airport somehow forget to lower their landing gear; a place where things are always expected to go wrong, bigly. It becomes a crime thriller, of sorts, & includes action set pieces & bizarre characters, all wrapped inside that trademark humour. A most enjoyable Xmas read.
Antony White
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun adventure of a book. However there are times where parts drag and I felt that I got the point and wanted the narrative to move on. To begin with the protagonist was relatable in an exaggerated way with dry humour. However the last quarter of the book makes for frustrating reading. I enjoyed it but felt like there were parts that should have wrapped up quicker.
Nik von Schulmann
May 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
It's not often I dislike a book this much and actually finish it. However, the writing style was at least readable. The premise and situations were just plain annoying. None of the characters had any depth or relatability and the the plot was almost non-existent. What little plot there was, was predictable. I had found this book on the back of a shelf in my home and have no idea how it got there. ...more
Russ Morgan
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the second book of Rob Grant I read, similar to Colony the book started of fast paced and intriguing. The second half seemed to slow down and stop abruptly. I did still enjoy the overall concept.
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Pretty funny easy read at the beginning, but by the end of the book it gets repetitive and to be honest, kind of lazy. It was an interesting find, but did not deliver on what I was expecting with first few chapters.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books.
Claire Burns
Jul 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Sarcastic but not my kind of book.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
A fun book if you want a light read, but for all that set up, there's no satisfying climax. ...more
Martin Hall
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the style of writing, not to everyone's taste, it's more about the journeying and the bits in-between that I found most interesting, nice details and unusual subject matter. ...more
Arieh Offman
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny AF

Rob Grant's Incompetence is great. Red Dwarf brought me here, but this book will keep me looking for more of his particular brand of wit.
Elwood Fitton
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit ridiculous at times, but no book has made me laugh so freely. If you are looking for something a bit melodramatic, cynical but deeply amusing then this is it.
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy
Really enjoyed this one, sadly the last chapters were a let down and felt rushed
Jim Richardson
Dec 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Promising start then it just turned into the most boring book I've read this year ...more
David Jones
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopia
Incompetence is a book that loves to rant. In fact, it is about 85% rant, and 15% plot. Which makes it a bit difficult to review without giving too much plot away. In a nutshell, the story is set in a near future where the EU and political correctness have led to discrimination based on competence being abolished. The result? A society where the vast majority of things don't quite work, and most people are annoying nincompoops. In the middle of all this, a kind of super secret agent is following ...more
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Writes under the name Grant Naylor when collaborating with Doug Naylor

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