Posted by: Ele Quigan | August 11, 2010

‘The Basic Eight’ Daniel Handler

Another birthday present (thanks Kat!) ‘The Basic Eight’ is written by Daniel Handler, who you may already know as the author of childrens’ books under the pen name ‘Lemony Snickett’. This book on the other hand is for young adults, I think females specifically and definitely those who read a lot of books…

An almost standard story premise of a popular girls group at school who organise a party where something goes wrong and someone dies. Sounds, well. Not that interesting right? Wrong. This book is bloody hilarious.

It’s written for those of us who read all the time, and are either book club followers or write reviews, with targeted questions at the end of every chapter, vocabulary notes, and written directly to the reader. While the plot is a little thin in places (I picked the twist about half way through, which usually never happens! Especially in movies…) but I started to think I’d like to live a bit of my life like these girls – organising dinner parties in sculpture gardens and drinking champagne from the bottle (well, I save that behaviour for New years anyway…)

The drug of choice in the novel (or at least the substance tried and blame laid upon) is absinthe. I’ve had an absinthe cocktail once or twice (basically made my toungue a bit numb and tasted remarkably like aniseed) but never tried it in the traditional way, pouring over a sugar cube on a silver slotted spoon into shot glass. There’s a bottle sitting on our shelf from a trip to Marseilles last year – after reading this novel, I’m kinda tempted to try it out, surely doesn’t make you that loopy?

The only thing I didn’t like about it was the protagonists name: ‘Flannery’ surely that is a little ridiculous? (A quick google search tells me the last famous ‘Flannery’ was a girl who bullied another girl till she took her own life, maybe Flannery isn’t so inappropriate after all…)

The novel is a little dark, which I LOVE, incredibly witty – and I even found myself laughing out loud at points. Since I’ve read so much serious fiction/non-fiction of late, it really took my by surprise how much I enjoyed it.

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