Monday 13 June 2011

One Seriously Messed-Up Week In The Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Jack Samonite by Tom Clempson

Pages - 406
Published by Atom Books in June 2011
Book kindly sent to me by the author in payment for constantly winding him up on Twitter.

Seriously bad nob-ache.
I don't actually have nob-ache right now, but, as an almost-sixteen-year-old boy, involuntary and unwelcome wang-ons take up about 78% of my waking (and un-waking, for that matter) life. Therefore, nob aches are a large part of who I am and should not go unmentioned in a project entitled  'Myself'. Especially as, when I was suffering from the aforementioned debilitating affliction about two hours ago, it occurred to me that to start a story with the word 'nob-ache' would be unbelievably cool.

I am almost certain that Tom Clempson was a little reluctant to send me this at first as I get the impression he thought I might be offended by the language in it. Little did he realise, that I am a hardened Inbetweeners fan; an Essex girl with an attitude and have a husband who enjoys nothing more than coming out with extremely rude comments in front of my family and friends at inopportune moments. The bad language in this book was like water off a duck's back to me. In fact, I found this book surprisingly tamer than the Inbetweeners, which is a good thing, because I really don't think it should be compared as they are both different and originally brilliant in their own ways. I actually thought Jack reminded me more of a cooler, more modern Adrian Mole and a character I probably would have wanted to hang out with a school. 

Our hero of the book Sam Taylor, who has renamed himself Jack Samsonite for his school project has three aims for the week. Firstly he needs to study to pass his GSCE's which are coming up soon. Secondly, he really wants to go out with the girl of dreams - Eleanor Wade - a girl he spends many an hour day dreaming about. Lastly he wants to survive the week without getting his head kicked in by the nastiest bully in the area. What do you think his chances are of achieving all three in a week?

I always wondered what went on in a teenage boy's head. Well I don't want to now,as being a 40 year old mother of two, that would be just wrong. However I did when I was a teenager myself and I still find the brains of most males intriguing. Thankfully Tom Clempson has come to my rescue and lifted the lid on this foreign land.   It seems to me that my first suspicions are correct and for a major part of their thinking time, sex is on the brain. However, they are more endearing than that and I feel I have rather a soft spot for Jack after reading his story. He is quite appalled that some of the girls he knows aren't as pure as he had believed and he suffers with the same anxieties as many girls do. He worries about his friends, his school work and being bullied too. He is actually a rather sweet character.

I felt like I had been sent back in time to my own teenage years, reliving all the angst of good grades and first relationships and it was quite lovely to take the road trip back. The language in the book is not for those who cringe at swear words. Personally it didn't bother me at all and I giggled like a school girl. Although I was glad to find it did not contain my least favourite swear word that does actually make me want to slap people when they say it. At least I  think it didn't, unless I have learnt to glaze over that word.  I know you will want to know what that word is, so lets just say it rhymes with hunt!

There were parts of this book that had me in hysterics and led to unusual conversations with my husband which covered such subjects as methodology of urinal usage. Don't ask, you just need to read the book to figure out what I mean.

I have just two tiny little niggles with the book. Sorry Tom! One was the title - its so long and when people would ask me about the book, my old brain would struggle to remember the exact title, so please can the next book have a shorter title? Secondly, I was slightly confused with a couple of the people Jack referred to in the story, that I didn't imagine a teenager of today would know. The 'Margaret Thatcher' reference made me stumble a little as I knew the teenagers of my generations would know who she was,(because, yes I am that old)  but I am not sure that the teenagers of today would. However, after discussing this with my husband, he was under the impression that they would and that Mrs T may be viewed as a bit of legend amongst the teenage boy brigade, especially as she has focused quite a lot on Top Gear (essential teenage boy viewing). So it looks like I was wrong and Tom was right, according to my husband (fountain of all knowledge). Just goes to show how differently women view the world to men. 

Like I said though, they are both really minor niggles and apart from that I thought the book was absolutely brilliant. The ending surprised me, as a bit of twist is sneakily put in. I do like a surprise ending.  I really do think that Tom Clempson has a great writing career ahead of him.


  1. That is sure one long title o_O I am afraid I have already forgotten it

  2. I agree about the title - when I ask for it in shops I always say the book by Tom Clempson rather than the title - so much easier.
    I seriously need to get this book for some light relieve.
    Fab & honest review there - well done

  3. Don't worry, Maggie T isn't that foreign to us teenage boys ;P

  4. Great review and sounds like a light read, not sure about the title though. x

  5. I absolutely adore the title; however, I understand the difficulty in remembering it. :)

  6. I've raised a boy so I know just what goes on in their brains when they're teens and it's not pretty. I love the title of this book and would pick it up for that alone.

  7. What a delightful review :D I simply must buy this book, It's sounds sooo enjoyable.

  8. The extract made me laugh out loud! And I kinda LIKE the wordy title. It's like the jumbled ramblings of a teenage brain :)

  9. Blodeuedd - I just call it Tom Clempson's book!

    Emma - you will love it. It is very entertaining and eye opening.

    Rhys - don't tell me you all have a thing for her.

    Susan - I loved it, just struggled with the title.

    Christina - I suppose it is a typically teenager type title.

    Bermudaonion - ah a veteran to the minds of boys!

    Animewookie - it will keep you entertained.

    Scattered_ Laura - you can see where the rest of the book is headed, can't you.

  10. I loved this book! It was so hilarious, and I completely agree with you about it. And I don't think it had the hungt word in it (I totally hate that word too...)
    Great review!

  11. One of the longest book titles I have ever seen.

    Not a read for me I'm afraid, too much effing-and-blinding really does put me off. A shame really as I really did enjoy the extract.

  12. Well bad language doesn't offend me in the least either. I grew up with it all around me too. Lol. Anyhow this book sounds good and it's always fun to revisit our teen years.

  13. This sounds like a really fun book. I loved the Adrian Mole books so I like that you said this has a bit of a feel to those. Is this going to be a series?

  14. Terrific review, Vivienne! I think it's great that you discuss books (or parts of them, anyway) with your husband. I would have a hard time remembering this title, unless I wrote it out several times. (Something happened to your final sentence. . . .)

  15. Since I have two boys I'm curious to know what might go on in their heads in the next few years (and a little scared to know too). That quote really lets you know the tone of the book though. :)

  16. I am not one to really wince at vulgarity and this book sounds funny. I was always curious in high school about what was going on in boys' heads. Sometimes, I still am. They always seem like such an unsolvable mystery. I doubt this book will really solve the mystery - that would be impossible - but this sounds like a fun read nonetheless.

  17. Cecily - I always sigh with relief when someone actually agrees with my review. I worry that I think differently to everyone else.

    Petty Witter - the swearing isn't that bad. I have heard much worse.

    Darlene - it was great to step back in time.

    Iliana - I am not sure if it will be or not. Will send a message to Tom to ask.

    Suko - I will go and check. Blogger keeps stealing the things I write.

    Alyce - you might want to wait until the boys are older.

    Jennifer - it will make it a bit clearer as to how they think.

  18. The title cracks me up and made me curious about this book. I think it would be petrifying to know what's going on in a teenage boy's head! This book sounds fabulous! I love that it's unique, funny and smart.

    Thank you for blogging about it!

  19. Sounds like a fun read. The language wouldn't bother me either. Being the mom of a 15 year old boy myself, I think I'd like reading this one. Nice review!

  20. Love the sound of this. :D

    I never took you for an Essex girl, Viv. ;-) Wow.

    Teenage boys definitely know how Margaret Thatcher is. My baby brother's a teenager and him and his friends are well aware of her. I think parents make sure future generations know all about her ... you know, as an excuse to not vote Conservative. :P


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