Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Slam by Nick Hornby

As Joanna has said in one of her earlier posts, it's always interesting to see what a high profile adult author will do when they write a teen book. In this case I liked the movies that were based on some of his adult books...not the actual books because I've never read them...but, you know, I was interested. Very interested. And then Slam started getting a lot of hype. Including a starred review from Booklist as well as really good reviews from pretty much every other review magazine.

Sam is 16 years old, the same age his mother was when she had him. The same age he'll be when he has his son. In no way is Sam ready to be a father. He's very immature and perhaps a bit delusional (case in point he talks to his Tony Hawk poster and sort of believes the poster talks back to him in snippets from Hawk's autobiography), he's selfish, he's not really into his girlfriend anymore, and he is completely unable to vocalize anything he's actually feeling.

This book was flat out funny. I thought Sam's voice was hilarious. He isn't ready for a kid and boy does he know it. Truthfully, I thought he was a complete idiot throughout the entire book. I kept thinking, "I am so glad I was never saddled with someone like him." All the while laughing because his perspective on things was so immature and his reluctance to accept his reality felt refreshingly honest - at first. About 3/4 of the way through I started to wonder if I was going to see any character growth, any indication that Sam didn't have his head completely up his ass. It's great to have a character that's not immediately jumping on the daddy bandwagon, because that is believable and if written right, humorous. but Sam never gets his act together and it goes from funny to slightly annoying. It had me wondering if Sam was ever going to grow up. I started thinking that Hornby wasn't just playing immaturity for laughs. This was actually ALL there was to Sam and that left me cold.

There was a brief hint at the end of some character growth, but it happens off page and in the future and ultimately was not enough to save the book for me. I thought it was super funny, so funny I actually laughed out loud for the majority of the book. But what I really wanted was to see Sam grow past his inability to grasp the situation at hand and get on with it. That's what it would have taken to move past the witty writing and make me actually care about him. And unfortunately that never happened.

Other reviews: Bookshelves of Doom, Living.Scotsman.com (the quote from the teenage son in this article is pretty darned funny).

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