Book Review: Stark by Ben Elton

Think economical and ecological conspiracy theories combined into a funny (ironic) book, only to end up understanding that okay this is not so conspiracy-like maybe a bit exaggerated account of reality, but we are getting there. That is the book, in a nutshell, have fun. Okay, you deserve more. This is a personal story of those who are trying to piece together what the heck is going on and then try to survive when shit hits the fan. It is full of economic and ecological jokes about the collapse in both senses. Those jokes, or more like little stories taking a detour from the main plotline, were the best part of the book. They explained why we are in this mess. (Why dolphins are dying. Why Koalas and other animals are at the moment dying in Australia, where this story happens to take place.) This is the kind of book that while you are laughing, you are dying inside one joke at the time. You feel your innards yell that “Holy space cows, we need to do something, but what? I’m just one person.”

I’m not sure if I loved this book or if I find it just okay, the story is fun, the setting is good, the plot is okayish, but the characters are unlovable. And I don’t mind that if it was only so, but some of them are bland and boring to follow around. I kept wanting to skip what was happening to them and read only the detour mini-stories as they had substance, something I could chew, enjoy, and slowly digest. (No, not thinking about the cows again, more like cupcakes or banana pancakes. Bananananana is a great word. Pancakes too, with honey.) CD, the main protagonist, was a pathetic and love-struck puppy, and I get it, why there was this regular guy drawn into the mess, it is fun storytelling. Still, I would love him to have other personality trades than just following Rachel around, who is a dick, and pine over her. Then Sly,  “the evil protagonist,” had at least personality, but one-sided and then he goes and breaks it for the story’s sake. The only one I loved was Zimmerman, even when he was an exaggerated caricature of a Vietnam veteran turned into a drug loving “hippy.” He was the only one I would love to have a conversation with.

What to say, should you read this book or not? Despite the unlovable characters, I would say go ahead. This book has a lot of good and enjoyable parts. It has a slow start, so stick with it, but the ending and those detours will make up everything. I might say that this book is bittersweet in all aspects. You will get what I mean when you finish it. So, shoo, go and read it.

Thank you for reading! Have a lovely bananananana day!

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