Oliver Tate is yet another precocious, funny boy narrator, but he's definitely got his own style. He's incredibly awkward, hypersensitive to social dynamics, and loves learning new words. He loves to push his parents' buttons, but he's not doing it to be funny. He's doing it because he thinks it's in their best interest. And when he suspects their marriage is in trouble, of course he thinks it's up to him to save it.
The other half of the time, he's busy with his first girlfriend, pyromaniac Jordana, who's just unpopular enough for their relationship to work.
Dunthorne is great with writing humor. I might not have laughed out loud, but I was constantly smiling. It was timed well throughout the narrative as well and was very dry and witty.
I saw Dunthorne at a small literary festival once (as I've mentioned before) and his reading had everyone laughing. He was on my plane ride the next morning too and he just looked like a very cool guy. I'm really glad I enjoyed his novel.
However, I will say it began much better than it ended. The last few chapters were less funny and Oliver's personality faded a bit (his prying, his humor, his surety). Still very much enjoyed it though.
AUTHOR: Joe Dunthorne
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 January 2008
VERDICT: 3/5 stars.