Book: Days of Throbbing Gristle, Kevin Cole
Rating: 3 stars
I had the opportunity to read this book as requested by the author himself. This book is not your typical tale of teenage angst and growing up in a foreign environment. While some people can easily navigate the world around them with ease and get through life without suffering, others find it more difficult. It brings to mind this quote:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid on the broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming: ‘Wow, what a ride!’”
That is exactly what happens throughout this book. I honestly had no idea what I was walking into when I agreed to read this book. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I can tell you it definitely wasn’t what I read.
It tells the story of Sam, a 17 year old English teenager who manages to find a host family to live with in Texas while he completes his final year of school. He’s got a fairly simple plan: graduate school while influencing his host family into paying his college tuition. Sam is sneaky, manipulative and a little cruel, but he knows how to get people to give him what he wants. And he does this well.
However, Sam’s English upbringing did not include being influenced by the people and culture of Texas and he soon begins succumbing to every peer-pressure influence around him: i.e. sex, drugs and alcohol. Sam soon has to ask himself if he still wants the same aim he arrived to Texas with, or has this way of life changed him?
If I have to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy Sam’s character. I felt he could be intentionally cruel to people that didn’t truly deserve it and the fact that he came to America with the sole intention of scamming his host family says quite a bit about his character. I enjoyed the side characters a lot more than I did Sam himself.
Many issues are discussed in this book such as religion, homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, dysfunctional families, the works. The fact that this book is set in the eighties mean that people aren’t as forgiving as they are now about one’s sexuality or religion. There’s no waving of a rainbow flag here, anyway.
I felt this book was good. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. To be honest, it probably had a lot to do with my personal tastes, not the writing or the story. I didn’t really enjoy Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, but that’s because I'm not a huge dystopian fan, not because Marie Lu is a bad author. I think you’ll enjoy this book is you’re into history and are nostalgic for the eighties. The characters can be quite manipulative but they’re also realistic in their portrayal.