This is the second in a series of 4 books, and may contain spoilers for the first book in the series, “Tigers and Devils”… I highly encourage you to read the book/my review for that first before delving into this one! 🙂 I’ll also be reviewing these over 4 days, so check back tomorrow for the 3rd book in the series!
You can find Book #1 HERE
Back for the soapy love story of Simon and Dec, the snarky film festival director and our favourite AFL Star. This time they’re plagued by an ex out for revenge, their best friends breaking up and a totally unprovoked diving lesson into the Yarra river. It’s truly a testament to a book when you almost see the sequel as the 2nd half of a single book, and this is the case here. Elements of the first book weave the narrative of this one, taking hold and taking us on a different romp that also feels familiar.
Simon and Dec have settled down a bit since we last saw them, and are in a lovely little routine, that is until Dec’s ex-boyfriend shows up on the scene with a “I’m a bad person” sign hung above his head. Dec has retired, and now works in the throngs of the media as a commentator, which goes about as well as you’d imagine when his personal life is thrown back into the tabloids much like half way through the first novel.
My one minor issue with the book as a whole is the one-sided character of Greg. I completely understand we’re meant to hate him, and we definitely do by the end of Tigerland! But would it hurt to give him one redeeming quality? It almost feels a tiny bit forced… I mean we almost feel sorry for Jasper for goodness sake, someone we’re sworn to hate on Simon’s behalf!
It presents the situation of a couple having worked through most of their initial kinks and problems thrust back into Trouble-ville, and it’s almost refreshing to see this side to a relationship under the spotlight. It tests our protagonists how far they are willing to go for each other, and makes the conclusion even sweeter when we’ve grown with them after 500 pages.
It’s also worthy to note that the author does all 4 books without a single sex scene. Something I completely forgot to mention in the first review, but remembered now! What’s lovely is you don’t really notice until you really don’t care anymore. You care for them all the same, and it’s nice to see their vulnerable sides without having some X rated romp half way through. It’s basically PG if you can excuse the swearing 😉
Again snark is also back in the menu in earnest. Simon bulldozes his way through chapter after chapter with the snarkiest comments I’ve ever read. It hits every emotion while still feeling light, often in quick succession. “He’s replacing Superman in the Holy Trinity” Simon exclaims mere moments after a touching moment with his partner…. it really is something to read over and over to just try and figure out it seems so effortless.
The gang is back in earnest. Roger, Fran, Abe and Lisa (albeit broken up for some of the novel) return as well as new addition Coby. Nyssa is missing and replaced by the aforementioned and they all work as well as they did in the first novel, really fleshing out their characters further and not becoming furniture within the narrative. They all have their own personalities and grow with our protagonists, A* to the author here!
Whereas the first book was about having a support network to get through your problems, and appreciating your friends; this one is all about developing this further. It honestly feels like a natural sequel that extends the story previously finished. Call it whatever you want, but at least it doesn’t feel like a shameless cash grab.
Without spoiling the plot of the book, it has many side stories throughout in each stand alone – and some that span all 4. It’s hard to write about all of them and remember which ones start/end in which book! I can say though none of them feel like duds, and they all feel plausible that could happen to any one of the characters. It feels human, and most of all important to them.
Much like the first, I can’t really fault it. It’s a nicely written continuation of a lovely story, who doesn’t want that for some of their favourite characters. Full of humour that comes naturally off the page, you’ll find yourself wondering how lucky you are you found the series in the first place.