Friday, 21 March 2014

My Better Half by Jerome Griffin
Review by JJ Marsh

What We Thought:

Our hero, who is somewhat less than heroic, has hit rock bottom. His job is meaningless, his friendships are in a rut and now his marriage is over. The only real thing in his life is Clive, his mentor, his therapist, his twin brother. Clive’s going to set him straight.

Meanwhile, Libra is setting the world straight. A faceless entity with access to global media, an articulate disembodied voice who leads the Scales of Justice movement. Assassinating corrupt ministers, organising referendums for the British people, and punishing a lack of action with violence.

Clive believes in violence. And action. And vengeance. Gradually our hero begins to take his life into his own hands and reinvent himself, while slowly understanding who and what Clive really is.

An unusual book which starts out as sardonic lad-lit but segues into something far darker, it makes a feature of contemporary London, illuminates the vapid world of advertising and includes some searing social commentary.

The latter half of the book becomes a page turner, as if the author has discovered his style. In the first part, the voice is occasionally self-conscious, but when the pace picks up and the story changes gear, the reader is compelled to find out what possible resolution exists for our main character. And when it comes, it’s an almighty shock.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: the blacker side of Nick Hornby, Darren J Guest, Ben Elton, having your expectations overturned.

Avoid if you dislike: unreliable narrators, violence, British politics.

Ideal accompaniments
: Pringles (sour cream and chives), bottled Stella Artois and London’s Calling by The Clash

Genre: Contemporary

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