Saturday, 19 March 2011

Slam by Nick Hornby

I am a big Nick Hornby fan and for a while I've been wanting to read Slam.  It's about Sam, a typical teenage boy who loves skateboarding, who accidentally gets his girlfriend pregnant.  I had been looking forward to reading it as I thought it would be interesting to read about teenage pregnancy from the boy's point of view, because I recently read and loved Long Way Down, and because I know that Nick Hornby does the men/boys being forced to grow up thing so well.

Unfortunately I was disappointed.  This was by far the worst Hornby I have ever read.  The plot was formulaic and contained no surprises.  Sam was the only character with any character - the book contains no more information about Alicia, the girl who actually becomes pregnant, than that she once wanted to be a model (or maybe she just said that to impress Sam) and she's irritable.  It honestly felt like Hornby had written this one in his sleep.

I think part of the problem is that I've read Malorie Blackman's Boys Don't Cry, which also deals with teenage pregnancy from the male point of view, and it was just so much better.  The characters were believable and I actually found myself caring about what happened.  Not so with Slam - I didn't care whether Alicia and Sam stayed together, or whether Sam grew up or not.  And I think Hornby ducked out of the whole abortion issue by having Alicia so adament to keep the baby.  I wanted that issue explored further.

The book's saving grace was that it was well written.  Hornby got into the head of a typical teenage boy very well and it written in his usual engaging style.  It was just missing that spark.  And don't even get me started on the possible time travel!

Score: 3 out of 5


  1. Interesting - I haven't read this one, though I do like Nick Hornby. The most recent one for me was Juliet, Naked which I did enjoy, very much, though I always have the sneaking suspicion that his books wouldn't enjoy such a reputation as "literary fiction" if they were written by a woman.

  2. I've just started reading this and so far i'm just not getting the same kind of feelimg I usually get from reading Nick Hornby... I will stick with it, though! It's a shame, as he really is capable of very good writing.

  3. Deborah I totally agree - if Nick Hornby was a woman, his books would be 'chick lit'. I think Marian Keyes writes in a similar style with some big issues but her books are usually covered in glitter and sparkle.

    Bex, hope you do enjoy it more than I did. It wasn't a bad read, it just wasn't as good as I was expecting from him.

  4. I really loved A Long Way Down. When I saw this book at the bookstore I had reservations. After reading your review, I think I'll give it a pass.

  5. Sorry to hear this is not a winner. I loved Hornby's How to be Good, and was hoping to read another one of his; I will stay away from this one. Thanks for the honest review.