Wednesday, 13 February 2013

June 2011 - Submarine by Joe Dunthorne

It was always going to be a tough choice following on from the success of last months book Unbroken, so this book faired average, with varied opinions. It wasn't a serious book, and should not be taken as one, it only really appealed to a few members sense of humour, although most members did admit to laughing out loud in places. It is certainly a different book to what we usually read at book club, being a light hearted break from the serious choices the last few months have given us.

The plot was mostly believable, focusing on the mind of a 15 year old boy, his sexual fantasies and his aim to get his parents marriage back on track. The book also gave us an insight into family life, coping with depression and marital tensions.

As with a lot of the books we've read with a child narrative, Oliver came across as slightly autistic, a very intelligent buy naive boy, who like to use big words and often thinks quite sadistic thoughts such as wanting to punch Zoe in the ovaries. The relationship between his mother and father was believable and his father was well liked by everyone, all of the members were interested to see whether or not the parents marriage would continue. The family friend Graham, was thought of as a bit cliché, typical hippy, mid life crises and a bit sleazy.

Most of our members failed to remember a particularly profound or interesting passage of the book, we all agreed that the Turkish rug incident, which described a past sexual experience in a little too much detail, went a bit too far, making us feel awkward about the book. Some other members also kept remembering Oliver attempting to kill Fred, to help Jordana come to terms with her Mothers cancer and possible death.  

We had split opinions on the ending, some members thought it was a nice, happy ending which tied the story up nicely, others thought it had just been thrown together to make the book longer (the ghost story, the scene with Zoe and the family outing). It seemed as though the author rambled on a little too much, but it did leave the story open ended leaving many of us wondering what Oliver would grow up to be like, would he ever grow up?

We thought the writing style was quirky, very crude, lacked consistency but at the same time showed a lot of promise for the future. He provoked a mixture of emotions, laughter and embarrassment, however most members would only be likely to read another of his books if it received excellent reviews and wasnt based on a child narrative. The main reason for not hurrying to read another of his books were us all having too many other books on our shelves, nothing personal.

Nine members attended this meeting giving Submarine an average score of 5.8 out of 10, 8.5 being the highest and 4 being the lowest.

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