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(Spud #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  6,097 ratings  ·  564 reviews
It’s 1990. Apartheid is crumbling. Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison. And Spud Milton—thirteen-year-old, prepubescent choirboy extraordinaire—is about to start his first year at an elite boys-only boarding school in South Africa. Cursed with embarrassingly dysfunctional parents, a senile granny named Wombat, and a wild obsession for Julia Roberts, Spud has ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Razorbill (first published 2005)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,097 ratings  ·  564 reviews

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Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone looking for something different and those YA readers
This is a cool book. It is written in the form of a diary of a 14 year old boy living in South Africa. The year is 1990 and it is his first year at an elite private boys boarding school. The hilarity ensues. All of his experiences and thoughts are realistic and although the feeling of the book is comedic, there are more sobering experiences as well. This is a brand new book this year, a hit in South Africa, and the author is coming out with a sequel. I'm definitely interested in seeing what come ...more
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fans of Adrian Mole and Georgia Nicholson will appreciate this latest entry in the adolescent teen diary mode. With wacky family members, teen romance problems, and faithful friends, Spud doesn't disappoint the reader. The added benefit is that it takes place in South Africa at the time of Nelson Mandela's release from prison and the end of apartheid. The seriousness of the political situation is a stark contrast to the laugh out loud situations in Spud's life in a private boy's school. I'm look ...more
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
There were points in the book where I had to put it down because I was laughing so hard. Oh man, what a great book to start 2008.
Nov 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen
All the reviews say it's very funny but maybe it's not my type of humor or something because I didn't tjhink it was hilarious. ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A funny book with all kinds of sweet, frightening and sad about growing up. Sabin Willett had a character warn me that prep school had more psychopaths than prison. It did not matter. I was hooked by the second page.

"05:00 The neighborhood erupts as Dad fires up his supersonic heat-seeking rose sprayer (which sound like a ski boat hitting a sandbank at full throttle). The machine is so powerful that it blew Wombat's (my grandmother's) Queen Elizabeth rose bush out of the ground on its first tryo
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
This book has been number one on the bestseller list in South Africa for the last couple of years. Now it is number two, only because the its sequel is number one. With a tag line that touts it as the South African Catcher in the Rye and a rave review from my Penguin rep, I knew I had to read it. Told in almost diary form from the perspective of a 14 year old boy (nicknamed Spud by his dorm mates because his balls haven't dropped yet) who has just started boarding school, this book is laugh out ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it liked it
I find myself a little torn. There was a lot I didn't like about this book, and they remained unexplained. For example - the realistic, yet horrifying hazing, awkward homoerotic subtext, the disgusting suggestion of a student-teacher relationship, drunk teachers, etc. While I did find myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion, and found the setting [South Africa] and time period [1990] to be intellectually interesting, there was a lot to be found in this novel that made me uncomfortable ...more
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
Thirteen-year old, South African John "Spud" Milton receives a scholarship to attend a prestigious boarding school in 1990 and is excited to escape from his crazy home life. Instead, he becomes part of the Crazy Eight in an equally bizarre, but teenage world dominated by sex, farting, harmful pranks, testosterone. Spud, nicknamed for the slow pace of his pubescent development, develops in many other ways, facing the usual teen pressures, especially when it comes to girls, and his hoped for lead ...more
Jan 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Funny at times, Spud isn't super lovable. He's average, and maybe that's supposed to make him appealing to the reader. I find his lack of a moral compass disappointing. He is socially conscious, which shows some growth in his character, but his disrespect for girls is disturbing. He reminds me of a slightly older Greg from Diary of a Wimpy kid. There's less substance to this book that I had previously heard. ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some amusing bits, some just plain crazy....lots of casual violence...just didn't engage me very much. ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Owen by: Sam
I decided to read Spud because it is sort of like my situation. Mainly the school aspect, which is pretty much the entire book. We both go to all boys schools and have to dress in pointless dress codes. Except, I go to a nearby(ish) school and Spud is at a boarding school in South Africa in the 1990s, at the time of apartheid. Other than that, there isn't much more similarity.

I almost want to say that this is sort of like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I think it's been described somewhere (I
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kimberley by: Kerri-lyn Wheeler
Shelves: read-2014
A close friend of mine has been recommending Spud to me for what seems like forever. Despite often enjoying the same books, I definitely put off reading this book until I realised it had been sitting on my shelf for an age and I was going to have to return it soon.

As soon as I started reading it, other friends told me how wonderful it was and I became a little bit skeptical. It definitely didn’t grab me immediately and I was worried that this had already become one of those books that simply do
The Messenger
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: old-reads
Spud! Oh boy do I love this book. Really, what's not to like? It's got a little bit of everything. There's a whole lot of humor accompanied by some life themes, classic literature, and some South African history. Almost anyone could find something they like in this book. At first I wasn't too sure how much I would like the diary-style entries, but I ended up loving them. John "Spud" Milton is a hilarious narrator and he handles the tough format well.
What really makes the book are the characters
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From a cultural standpoint, Spud might be too unbelievable to be a 13 going 14 year old boy, but then again, boys, whatever, whoever, wherever they are, have this similar crux of concern. Themes of belonging, madness, and friendship grace through the pages of the book, and all the while, you will laugh with the boys and their ordeals going through an entire year being together in a boarding school.
I appreciate how van de Ruit writes his bildungsroman with wit and wild livery. I admit that throu
Tammy Dahle
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for laugh out loud funny this is the book for you. Spud by John van de Ruit is one of the funniest books I have read in a while.
The story comes from John "Spud" Milton who attends an all boys boarding school in South Africa set in 1990. His tale is written by way of journal entries which relate his various adventures, trials and humiliations.
John rooms with a group known at school known as the "Crazy Eight" and they never fail to live up to their name. These 13 year old boys a
Amanda Patterson
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At last, a South African novel that is just a novel! Someone up there is finally taking note that South Africans are tired of political memoirs and high brow literary offerings that sell 3000 copies and die a lonely death.
Spud leaves its British counterpart, The Diary of Adrian Mole, in the dust. Spud and the Crazy 8 have kept me from my dates with Michael Connolly, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell and Adriana Trigiani. And that's a feat. I have laughed out loud, giggled and smiled and shed a few tears
Nicolene Smith
I am probably the only person in South Africa that dislikes this book. To be honest: if it wasn't for the last bit of the book, I would have given it 1 star.

Yes, there are funny bits and there are bits correlating with my youth (I am in the same age range as the lead character), but to read about a boy waiting for his "balls to drop" while his mates are "wanking of" got irritating after... uhm... well the second time he talked about his "willy" and "balls dropping". Really? How many times must y
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2010
Loved every page of this book! John van de Ruit has made me rethink the way I feel about South African writers. This book is strong enough to compete with any well known writers' work. Spud is the type of character you cant help but love! Even though he is such a typical boy and makes so many bad decisions, you still cant help but cheer him on. Every member of the crazy eight has a special place in my heart. You can learn so much from different characters and how they handle situations. My fave ...more
Feb 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: yanovels
Definitely not South Africa's Catcher in the Rye, despite the many plot parallels and the blurb making big claims. Still, pretty good. As a parent, I was kind of creeped out by the author's acceptance of a horrible boarding school. Are beatings, uncontrolled bullying, insanity,rampant drunkenness, and affairs with students par for the course in South African schools? Yikes!

Spud is very likeable, though a little too good to be true -- star of the school musical, star cricketer, excellent student
Payal Jain
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The most absurd and glorious book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. 43 days. That's how long I dragged Spud on simply because I didn't want it to end!
There wasn't any facet of life that this book failed to touch. Such colorful, crazy, flawed, unique characters and I feel like I know and understand them all. Brilliant characterization and a marvellous plot.
Definitely, #1 on my list now. Sorry JKR.
I am not reading the sequel for another year, though. I'd like this journey to last a little lon
Morné Volschenk
Oct 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone!
The adventures of John Milton “Spud” despite its oddness and quirkiness is able to connect with anyone. Refreshingly original and funny the book has a very South African feel but written in such a way as to delight anyone. With astonishing wit and cleverness, as only a 14-year-old spud can provide, there is not a sentence that will not have you giggling with glee. Every page contains some brilliant weirdness to admire and amuse you.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laugh out loud funny! That is the best way to describe this book, which was recommended to me by a couple of freshmen. The author leads us through the first-year adventure of a new boarding house student who is quickly nicknamed Spud. The plot is filled with the usual teenage drama (girls, sneaking out at night, pranks) but told in a witty way, allowing for moments of tenderness and self-discovery. A terrific read for YA's. ...more
Mizzio Batista
I really loved this book.... Being taken into the mind of a 14 year old boy, while he deals with, not only personal teenage problems, but a dynamically changing country is an experience filled with laughter, wonder and slightly pity (in a good way). Highly recommended read.

This book is, also, home to my favorite bookish quote.

'When In doubt, keep reading- A book will never die on you.'
The Guv, pg 385
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Spud is a the story of a young South African boy and his experiences in boarding school. Those who are familiar with boarding school will find the story delightfully authentic. Those who are not will gain an insight into the unique experience of boarding school education.
Jan 23, 2014 marked it as didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dull, not-for-me
Dnf after 12 pages. Apparently, this book is a riot, but I was hardly able to smile, and that's saying something considering how much I laugh. It's puerile in every sense of the word.

May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A genuinely funny and moving book, peppered with serious moments and a more sombre ending. It's the perfect blend of lighthearted adolescent fun, thoughts on South Africa's changing political landscape and references to much-loved classics. Overall a very pleasant read. ...more
Dec 11, 2008 added it
this book is so charming. i don't want it to end and i am only half way through. ...more
Josephine Parry
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and can't wait to read spud the madness continues ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny, crazy, sad, and 'wickedly' informative...what a fantastic read! Dying to read the next one in the series. ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this was lit
many adult joke
much funny
such humor
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Is this a book for teen boys in the US? 9 75 Mar 28, 2012 08:40AM  

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John Howard van de Ruit is a South African novelist, actor, playwright and producer. He has been a professional actor, playwright and producer since 1998. He was born in Durban and educated at Michaelhouse, where he stayed in Founders House and from where he matriculated in 1993. He then went on to complete a Masters degree in Drama and Performance at the then University of Natal.

He is best known

Other books in the series

Spud (4 books)
  • Spud: The Madness Continues
  • Spud: Learning to Fly
  • Spud: Exit, Pursued by a Bear

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