Thursday, 29 October 2015

SIX LIES by Ben Adams

3.5 out of 5 stars

Lad Lit/Humour/Family Drama

Available for pre-order on Amazon UK HERE
Available for pre-order on HERE

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's Review Team

A very short way into this novel, I realised that Dave, the main character, is actually a minor one from Ben Adams's first book, Six Ways To Get A Life, which I read earlier this year, and I thought, what a great idea!  I love this sort of thing on TV dramas, when a series tells the story of a different member of the cast each week; it always brings home to me how little we really know about each others' lives.

The plot: After his mother's death, bank cashier Dave Fazackerley discovers that she wasn't really his mother at all.  It's a confusing time in his life, as his wife has left him for another man, and he's stuck in limbo emotionally, having ill advised one night stands and trying to lead his 1980s pop covers band in a favourable direction.

Ben Adams has a readable, conversational style of writing that flows along; it was no hardship to read this book over a short period of time.  There are some good lines: 

"Is that the best drummer you can find?  My gran could do a better job and she's had Parkinson's Disease for the last twenty years."

"It is a place where middle-aged, middle class people with large middles live."

"one bloke with an unruly beard that seemed to morph at about neck level into a brown cardigan"

"...your foreplay leaves a lot to be desired."
"I don't remember you moaning at the time."
"Exactly, Dave, exactly."

It's a good plot, too.  I think I preferred Graham's story in the first book, though; it seemed more 'real'.  I felt this was a little formulaic: Dave is a likable, good looking bloke (but not too good looking), desperate to get back with his former love who he lost through his own incompetence.  There's his group of mates that include the wacky best friend and the serious one (Graham), he has a couple of casual sexual encounters that he regrets, and listens to records from his youth when feeling morose ... not unlike most other 'lad lit' heroes (High Fidelity, The Understudy, etc).  This isn't necessarily bad, because he's a well drawn character and some genres do follow a formula; indeed, their readers like to know what they're getting. I did enjoy much of it, certainly enough to read it quickly because I wanted to know what happened.  I was just hoping for something with more spark; it was all a bit too safe. 

Although the book is mostly written from the first person, there are also chapters from the points of view of Dave's father, Terry, and his mother, Sue.  I was pleased to see this variation at first (I do love books from multiple points of view), but, alas, there wasn't much to differentiate between the 'voices' of the characters.  Aside from a couple of recurring slang words used by Terry, he and Sue told their sides of the story in much the same language and mood, with similar attitudes and rhythm, which gave no sense of being inside the head of a new person.  However, finding out what happened in their respective pasts added another dimension and rounded out the story nicely.

There's a particularly neat twist near the end; I knew something was coming because there were a couple of hints earlier on, but I couldn't guess it, hadn't a clue - good shot!

To sum up, Ben Adams can certainly write, knows how to make a reader keep turning the pages (not a quality all writers can boast, by any means), and has the cosier end of this genre down to a 'T'.  I didn't spot one single error in it, and although I prefer something with a bit more bite, I imagine it will do very well for him and will appeal to many.

SIX MONTHS TO GET A LIFE by Ben Adams reviewed HERE

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