This is the first of a series of 4 books, I will be reviewing all of the series over 4 days so check back tomorrow for the sequel! 🙂 I hope these won’t contain too many spoilers for events of the book, but themes and topics covered will be, enjoy.
I’m not going to lie, the whole book series is a lovely little soap-esque tale; and it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Each book takes you on a stint of the characters lives, growing from singletons to (almost) married loved up couples. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to see the characters and their traits develop from book to book and from each stage of their lives. Sean Kennedy does an amazing job keeping this consistent throughout 4 books and 1000 pages, which is something I only appreciated re-reading them all to be able to write these reviews. It lies heavily on comedy as well, which majorly pays off throughout – weaving humour into the most awkward and serious situations throughout. This keeps the tone light and enables the book to stay (almost) light-hearted in sometimes dark places. This is mostly exemplified through Simon, for example “So, what are you going to wear?” a friend suggests…… “Clothes” Simon replies, musing about when his friend thought he grew a vagina. Yes okay, it’s a stereotype; but who cares?
Structurally also, each book is set up into defined “quarters” with an overtime and prelude sections. This helps change scenery/time without too much difficultly, and sets it up well for natural breaks to go and get a cup of tea between sittings!
So, Simon runs the Triple F Film Festival in Melbourne, and is probably the most snarky person I’ve ever read about in my entire life. I wish I had the comebacks this man had, and I often wonder how often it takes Kennedy to write these up. Anyway, Simon famously supports the Richmond AFL team, and despite not following AFL at all, Kennedy manages to weave this sporting narrative in without difficulty. You’re not bogged down by too many details to get lost in which is a nice touch.
Declan is a professional AFL player, and plays for the fictional Tasmanian Devils. He’s portrayed as a sort of perfect guy, which we all know doesn’t exist! His initial interactions with Simon are probably the first time we’re introduced to the sense of humour this book has to offer, and it’s nice to see it’s not lost as the plot continues. Without meaning to sound rude, it definitely is written in the correct style, following Simon’s perspective. It’s interesting to see secondary strife with Declan and his coping mechanisms through Simon, and works well when they get to bumps in the road.
Sean Kennedy really kicks the book off quickly and almost picks up the characterisation as you go along. We’ve met everyone of importance within the first few chapters, and on reflection it really does help give us maximum time to figure everyone out properly. Roger, Fran, Abe, Lisa and Nyssa are our core cast, and they all add to the book well in their respective roles. Reading this again after a few years honestly felt like coming back to friends, and when they’re chatting you almost feel part of the conversation with little quips and in jokes you understand. It’s always tricky to weave side characters into the story effectively, and Kennedy does this effortlessly. Seeing everything from Simon’s eyes, everyone has their moment and time to actually develop their character accordingly.
The book obviously deals with stereotypical themes such as coming out, media attention, self worth etc; and is generally dealt with well. From the initial first dates, to the inevitable “outing”, to the bust upds, the essence of the story is that no matter who you are; anyone can have problems. Finding the help is a complete other kettle of fish, but anyone can have problems. It’s weaved through as well in a sense that love isn’t the only thing that helps, which is also a message which isn’t always conveyed in a romance book. It’s easy to have one other person along for the ride, but you need a whole network to be able to deal with your problems well. In essence, love is good; but friends are great!
Overall I really can’t fault it, it’s a lovely little tale in its own right that you can read without going any further in the series. The laughs and times with the gang are always good to relive, and the story is actually pretty decent. Quotable, relatable and laugh-inducing, I’ll leave this review with perhaps one of the best quotes I could find 🙂
“It’s scary enough dealing with life day to day without taking into consideration the hugeness of the future.” – Dec