|Author: Ian Watson
Price: £11.36 (download £2.99)
Author’s Website: Ian Watson
It’s winter in Blackpool. The golden mile’s just a mile and there’s no pleasure to be had on the beach but life goes on for the locals.
Tony is eighteen and in love from the underpants out. The object of his desire is a barmaid but there’s one thing he needs to do before she’ll give him an all day pass to Mandyland- grow up.
He stumbles across an opportunity to prove his manhood and, in doing so, falls into a nightmare of very large, nasty grown-ups who want to either kill him or use him to get someone else killed, so he panics.
Enter Bene. Wise beyond his years and something of a guru he hatches a plan so utterly ridiculous that Tony rejects it out of hand and turns his back on his mate… who goes ahead with it anyway.
The whole story is heading towards a single night at the club. A night of violence. A night of secrets and lies and that’s just the staff. Everyone seems to have a plan that involves Tony… except Tony. He’s a man now alright but all he really wanted was a little ‘charles’ with the increasingly shallow Mandy.
He can’t run. He can’t trust anybody and the clock is ticking. Life isn’t a roller-coaster. There’s no wooden figure at the entrance with, “If you’re not as mature as me you can’t ride ‘Adulthood” written above it. Now he’s on it and can’t get off and there’s a massive drop ahead. All he can do is shut his eyes, hold on tight and prey he can still stand up when it’s over.
… oh, it would seem life is a roller-coaster after all.
I really enjoyed this book. From a personal point of view, there were so many things that took me back to my own youth. Anyone who grew up in a seaside town will be able to identify with so many of the settings and characters. Saying that, it’s definately a lads book, I’m not sure that the fairer sex will enjoy some of the scenes, or the strong perspective from a male.
The book moves along at a fairly fast pace, and the chapter organisation is such that there is no good point in which to stop reading. This means that you should make sure you have plenty of time before you start reading, else you’ll be thinking about it, and wondering what happens next, until you can pick it up again.
The characters and their stories are cleverly interweaved throughout the book, and as the story moves along, you start to feel an empathy with Tony and the hole he seems intent on digging. There are several twists and turns, with the tension mounting as all the threads are drawn together, before the story culminates in an ending that you weren’t expecting.
What I Most Liked:
One thing I really enjoyed in the book was the recollection amusement arcades it felt like stepping back in time to when as a youngster, I used to play the slots at my local arcade. I too was considered something of an expert.
I also enjoyed Ian’s narrative style, I felt engaged almost from the first chapter, and really cared about what happened to the main characters. I enjoyed the way the tension within the story was slowly built up and climaxed at exactly the right point.
What I least Liked
Whilst I relly enjoyed the book, and found it difficult to put down, it is obvious that Ian has not had the advantage of professional editing. This meant that there was the odd occasion where I needed to re-read a sentance, but this most certainly didn’t distract from my overall enjoyment of the book. I imagine that if Ian were to get the attention of a traditional publisher this would feature in some top sellers book lists.
If you grew up living in a ‘touristy’ area, then you will absolutely love this book. If you didn’t, then this is still a great read, and there is plenty for you to enjoy. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
Ian Watson is a first time author of comedy fiction. He was brought up in Blackpool and went to film school in Wales where he specialized in dialogue. He writes a weekly opinion column for a Norfolk newspaper and has also written the ‘book’ to a new musical called ‘LIFT’ which has been showcased in the West End and is currently being put into full production for Edinburgh and a national tour. He is married to Caroline who is an actress and has two large German shepherd dogs.