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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Friday April 05, 2002
04:27 AM

Book Report: Ben Elton's "Dead Famous"

[ #3985 ]

It's a murder mystery set on a reality tv show like Big Brother, where contestants are locked in a house with a zillion video cameras. One is murdered! Whodunnit and how?

Since I started writing one of these, I've become a lot better at guessing whodunnit, how, and why. I can smell red herrings and see foreshadowed solutions. But even though I knew whodunnit, I had a wonderful time confirming it.

Ben Elton is a brilliant writer, and skewers television and hip youths with a sharpened pen. But being Ben Elton, he also skewers the protagonist, the left, the right, and everyone in between.

And that's where it lost the point. It doesn't have a very satisfying resolution, because you never feel like you identified 100% with anyone. Even the protagonist, who has all the opinions we do and isn't afraid to say them, comes off as flawed and self-serving and not completely likable.

This is nothing new with Elton, though--if you believe that you can learn about him from his books, you'd think he hated all humanity. He's got a very strange idea of a happy ending, and nobody tends to do well in the end. Which is great for scoring points, but is a bit of a downer for the reader.

Hence 9/10. As shameful as it is to say it, the book would have been complete with a truly happy ending. I'm such a traditionalist.


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