Book Review: Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne

Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne

This author is new to me but comes highly recommended by my friend. She read this book and Submarine by the same author. When I found out that Joe Dunthorne would be present at a 30-author book club (each author discussing their book with 25 people), I booked us in. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the book as much as I’d hoped. In the book club (last night), we only discussed what we liked about the book, so that was pretty safe!

Wild Abandon: What it is about

What the publishers say: “Kate and Albert, sister and brother, are not yet the last two human beings on earth, but Albert is hopeful. The secluded communal farm they grew up on is – after twenty years – disintegrating, taking their parents’ marriage with it. They both try to escape: Kate, at seventeen, to a suburbia she knows only through fiction and Albert, at eleven, into preparations for the end of the world – which is coming, he is sure.

And then there is Don: father of the family, leader and maker of elaborate speeches. Faced with the prospect of saving his community, his marriage, his son from apocalyptic visions and his daughter from impending men, he sets to work on reunifying the commune by bringing it into the modern age, through self-sufficiency, charisma and a rave with a 10k sound system.

The last day on earth is coming. Bring your own booze.

Wild Abandon: What I thought

It all starts quite funny, with Kate (17) sharing a shower with her younger brother Albert (11), but deciding soon after that maybe she’s too old for that. Albert is very keen to keep the family ties fastened, but Kate is ready to explore the world.

Albert knows the world’s end is nigh. In a way, it is indeed. The family, and community, is falling apart bit by bit.

I liked it how Kate opposed her parents by not wanting to be hippyish. She doesn’t wear her big skirts to school and has very limited experience with drug taking (something her uncle Patrick has taken too far).

There were some very fun moments in the story in general, and they were a pleasure to read. But after a while, I got bored with this book, even though it was quite short. I liked Kate but didn’t really care much for the other protagonists. Albert I found a weird kid, Patrick was weird too, Don a little tragic, and his wife deserved a book of her own.

I would have liked a bit more of a plot. The story did go somewhere, but very slowly.

I did finish the book, rather more slowly than I’d hope for such a short book, but I lost most of my enjoyment of reading it towards the end. Such a pity, as it started really quite good!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Number of pages: 244

First published: 2011

I got this: bought it for a book club event

Genre: contemporary fiction

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

4 Responses to Book Review: Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne

  1. Jennifer says:

    The premise sounds great, too bad it didn’t wow you. Onward and upwards!

  2. Charlie says:

    On one hand Kate’s rebellion sounds the opposite of what you’d think, but if it’s a more closed commune I guess it sound right. the story sounds fun so it’s a pity it didn’t continue to be good.

  3. Laurie C says:

    Interesting! I didn’t have this one on my TBR list, but I’m glad to get an idea of what it’s all about.

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