Michelle O'flynn's Reviews > English Toss on Planet Andong

English Toss on Planet Andong by Dave Franklin
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Jul 06, 2010

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bookshelves: first-reads

I was fortunate enough to receive this book as a winner of the GoodReads first reads and I thank Dave, and the publishers for this. Like many of the other reviewers I find it hard to describe what I got from reading this book. Certainly at times I really wanted to enjoy and like this book more than what I did. I felt that there would be some truly laugh-out-loud moments, and they didn't quite eventuate I did find myself smiling at some of the antics in the nightclub "Popcorn". This story is about an ex-pat Aussie in Korea employed at a private school to teach English to local children but at some points ventures into the sadistic mind of flat-mate Englishman going by the name of Billy. This rather twisted individual shows all the portent of a budding serial killer and yet the author didn't reveal anything more about this character, other than his delight in taunting mercilessly everyone from his fellow teachers, the students, the locals and everyone who unwittingly strays into his orbit. While teaching English overseas must certainly have its share of perils and trials, I feel that in reality there must also be an equal balance of great experiences and fun. However, for the hapless characters in Dave's story, these ex-pats must endure students who have no interest in learning English, locals with little or no interest in speaking English nor socializing with the foreigners, terrible weather, and a location that must make any black hole in space seem like a good alternative. Billy's careless indifference to the wellbeing of any fellow human beings results in a tragedy that prompts the two into a decision about their teaching future. Unfortunately this is what decides the ending to the story, leaving the reader feeling somewhat unsatisfied. When the main character Paul reminesces about his past in Queensland, author Dave shows that he can indeed evoke emotion and interest in the reader, but his story doesn't do his writing style justice. While I enjoy a good black comedy, and this story has all the ingredients for such a rollicking laugh, it just falls a bit short. I think a little more coherence in some of the rambling would make for easier reading, and insight Billy's background would have provided not only more fodder for the comedy, but given us some context. I am most interested to see if Dave's other books continue in the same theme where the typical Anglo characters take sadistic satisfaction in their superior reviling of the locals, or whether there is indeed something deeper and more entertaining from this writer. I believe that from what he has shown us here, the talent is certainly there.
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