Starter For Ten by David Nicholls

Starter for Ten - David Nicholls

I was more than a bit pissed when I realised it’s January 16th and I’ve only read two books. Two bloddy books! And neither of them have been that good, either. From here on out I’m dedicating a lot more time to reading. Anyway, back to the book.


Ever since I read One Day by David Nicholls I’ve been meaning to try more of his work. I’ve got his most recent release Us on my kindle, but I put it down after about fifty pages as it wasn’t working for me. I might try it again at some point though as I've heard good things about it.


Starter For Ten seemed like the right kind-of thing for me i.e a fairly light topic with a bit of comedy mixed in.


The book is narrated by Brian, an eighteen year old who leavs home and goes off to University. For a large portion of his life he’s been a fan of the show University Challenge-a quiz show that became somewhat iconic in the U.K. He used to watch the show with his late father and the two of them loved it. The show pitted two teams from opposing Universities against each other and asked them a series of general knowledge questions. As was asked by my friend BrokenTune, did Jeremy Paxman feature? I’m sorry to say he didn’t. I think it would have been a great edition to have him there in a kind-of cameo role.


Brian finds out that his own University is planning to put together a team to compete in the show. While he’s having a look at the poster advertising auditions he meets Alice, a beautiful fellow student who is also auditioning for the team. They both end up on the team, Brian in the hopes of making his late father proud and Alice, who appears quite vain and self-absorbed, for what I assume was just a chance to get on T.V. Brian develops a serious crush on her and this theme, Brain trying to woe Alice, is one that continues throughout the book and I’m not joking when I say it really began to piss me off. For a while it was sweet, the whole unrequited love thing, but after a while when it was clear that Alice really wasn’t interested in Brian but he STILL continued to chase her, I was tempted to chuck the book over my balcony. Maybe it was the humour that kept me reading, or my hope that Brian would finally wake up to the fact that Alice just wasn’t that into him. I mean, do men really chase woman when there’s literally no hope? Frankly I don’t see the point, it’s a waste of time. I think the thing that infuriated me most was that Brian was such a passive character and I was hoping that he’d somehow snap out of it. My wait paid off, kind-of, when towards the end of the book he did a few things that were somewhat out of character. He knew he was a bit of a twat and I think this self-awareness on his part helped me have a modicum of sympathy for him.


What David Nicholls does best is create very authentic characters. There were a whole host of secondary characters, from Brian’s mum, to his friend Spencer, his friend Rebecca and the hilarious Patrick who was the captain of the University challenge team. The secondary characters made the book for me and if it wasn’t for them I think I might have gone through with my threat and chucked it over the balcony.