Morton Rhue – The Wave

The Wave.jpg

A couple of years ago Penguin published a good number of the pioneering Young Adult books, as followers of this blog know that I am not a huge fan of the genre, obviously there are exceptions but what bothers me is that they tend to have good ideas but they are dealt with in a superficial manner, then there are the tropes: pop culture references, the romantic interest, the awkwardness etc. At least, I can say that The Wave does have an original idea and avoids a lot of the YA cliches.

The plot is based on a true story where a teacher decided to replicate the discipline enforced by the Nazi party on its members: strict obedience, zero tolerance for expression and respect for one leader, this was called The Wave. In one way the experiment was a success as grades improved, nerds were treated properly but then students started to bully other pupils into joining and punishing students you refused to form part of The Wave. Eventually this ‘party’ was disbanded by the teacher who invented it.

Rhue documents all of this well. I personally enjoyed reading about the formation of The Wave and the change that overcame the students. However Rhue throws in tropes that ruin the story. There’s an unnecessary love subplot and towards the final few chapters the book does become ridiculous. Despite these niggling flaws I thought the Wave is a good documentation of human nature, sure it could have been done in depth, and I am not the right demographic but its fine. An impressionable 15 year old would love this.

Jonathan Coe – Number 11

Number 11

My favourite book of all time is Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up! (here’s the review:…) after I read House of Sleep and The Rotter’s Club. Stupidly I stopped reading Jonathan Coe after that.

Then last year I came across Number 11 in a book sale. It was selling for 5 euro so I bought it, however due to my system the book came up and I read it, curious if Coe had lost his spark.

He hasn’t

Number 11 is a sort of sequel to What a Carve Up!: the novel deals with the corrupt nature of politics, the manipulative aspect of media and how people are badly affected by the decisions taken by the upper classes.

The book consists of a series of interconnected stories, all linked by the Winshaws, who made their first appearance in What a Carve Up! AND that book is self referenced a couple of times as well, a lot of the main characters in this novel reappear in some of the stories as well. Thus detail and destinies cross and entwine themselves; a literary technique I’m fond of, hence the five stars.

One thing I admire about Coe is how he can mix and mash different genres with fluidity. Number 11 contains elements of mystery, horror, drama and comedy, not to mention the plethora of artists and directors he name drops. In other words this makes it a fun book to read.

If you haven’t read …Carve Up! no worries as Number 11 holds up on its own BUT enjoyment of the book is enriched if the first part of this novel is read.