‘Bright Young Things wanted for Big Project.’ They’re in the prime of their lives but our bright young things are all burnt out. Six sparky twenty-somethings just out of university and working dead-end jobs, they are all bored to tears with their lives and looking for a way out. When a mysterious job is advertised in the newspaper, they all apply. What they least expect is to find themselves prisoners on a deserted island. There’s food in the fridge and they have a bedroom each, but there’s no telephone, no television, and no way to escape.
My sister Bibliobeth and I’s book club read this month was Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas. We’ve decided to write joint reviews together for our book club reads. They will probably be in different formats every month to switch things up a little.
Here are our thoughts!
BETH: When the characters wake up on the island, they come up with a number of theories as to why they are there. What did you think they were there for?
CHRISSI: I think I may have been reading too many thrillers recently, as I immediately thought they were there for a really, really sinister reason.
CHRISSI: What surprised you most about the book?
BETH: At first it seemed to be just a story about six “bright young things” stuck on an island and we don’t know why. Then a twist kind of comes near the end that I wasn’t expecting, and it made the novel a bit darker and even more intriguing. It definitely took me by surprise, and I will continue to be mysterious so as not to spoil it!
BETH: Which character did you identify with most and why?
CHRISSI: Unfortunately I didn’t identify with any of the characters. Maybe I’m not a Bright Young Thing.. I just found some of them incredibly irritating.
CHRISSI: Did the author do a good job of making the characters believable? e.g. do they speak in the right voice for their age group or the time period of the novel?
BETH: I think the characters were very believable from the time period the novel was set in. I loved the nineties references to Dawson’s Creek, Take That, etc and thought this added to the credibility of the story. I also liked the fact that not one of the people on the island were perfect – they all had their bad points/things in their past they weren’t proud of and that made them more believable to me.
BETH: If you were in the same situation as our characters, how would you react and what would you do?
CHRISSI: I would be a total wimp in the same situation. I don’t think I cope very well with the unknown and especially people I don’t know. Oh, I sound like a right idiot, but it takes me time to warm to people. I think if I got comfortable with the people, I’d come out of my shell a bit more and start to try to plan a logical way to escape.
CHRISSI: Did you think the ending was appropriate?
BETH: The ending for me is a bit abrupt and unexpected. Was it appropriate for the novel though? I’m not sure, in a way I think the story was so unique, and you never knew where the plot was going to take you so maybe it was appropriate that it ended that way. I’m still thinking about it, so that’s maybe a good thing?
BETH: Did the book affect you in a personal way, such as offending you or making you uncomfortable? Did you reassess your views on certain topics because of the novel? Do you have a better or new understanding of certain aspects or a new awareness of something you’d never thought of before?
CHRISSI: I wouldn’t say it affected me in a personal way. I’m used to reading novels that are a bit ‘out there’. I was surprised by some graphic scenes and the amount of swearing. Some of the statements made as well didn’t really sit right with me, but it didn’t offend me in any way. I haven’t changed my views on topics because of it and I haven’t gained a better understanding of certain aspects. Bright Young Things didn’t really move me in anyway. I have finished it and not really thought of it again until now.
CHRISSI: Did your opinion of the book change as you read it?
BETH: Hmmmm. Not really. Having read “The End of Mr Y” by Scarlett Thomas before, I was expecting the story to be a bit quirky, as that seems to be her writing style. At times, she surprised me with some graphic incidents or statements but on the whole I enjoyed it all the way through.
BETH: Would you read something else by this author?
CHRISSI: I’m really not sure. I liked that the story wasn’t a traditional young adult tale, but the pacing was very slow and the ending annoyed me immensely.
CHRISSI: Who would you recommend this book to?
BETH: Probably fans of Scarlett Thomas and anyone who isn’t afraid of a bit of swearing, sex, drug references etc!