Book Review: Eleven by Mark Watson
January 5, 2012 14 Comments
This book has a quote on the front “If you loved One Day by David Nicholls, this is for you” [Cosmopolitan]. Guess what? I fell for it. And amazingly, I hadn’t even read One Day at the time (although I owned the book). Meanwhile, I have read, and indeed, loved, One Day, and I therefore was ready to read Eleven. But gee, to fall for a quote like that! How shameful!
The book is a clever story of how one event affects the lives of eleven people in London. It works like this: the main character, a late-night radio host, does not prevent a young boy from being beaten up. The mother of the boy, a restaurant reviewer, is very upset about the beating and writes a crushing review about a restaurant, which makes the owner so angry that he fires the dish washer for a small mistake, after which the dish washer… etc. A wonderful circle of events, that end back at the radio host, Xavier.
Xavier carries most of the book, but, as the reader needs to learn about the chain of events that happen through his neglect, the other ten characters are also given some of the limelight. Some only briefly, others for longer or recurrent periods of time.
The book is an well-flowing read that doesn’t linger but moves forward at some speed. The narrator is omniscient to such a degree that we sometimes find out things about people in the future. For instance, when Xavier visits a corner shop, we’re told that the shop owner will die in three years’ time, just as a side remark. And there are other moments like this, where the writer wants to let the reader know what will happen even to minor characters.
The book was a fun, reasonably fast read with some serious moments as well. If you did like One Day, (do I dare say it?) you may well enjoy this book too. But if you like clever ideas such as this chain of events, then you’ll be fine anyway.
I got this book: bought it in a book store
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 304
First published: 2010
Genre: contemporary fiction