From the Nightstand: Submarine

Whoever said that you should never judge a book by its cover was simple. I know, it’s a good message and all, but really… who wants to read a book that looks like it was printed in 1865? Bland purple jacket? I’d judge that book in a heartbeat. Boring!
I do usually judge books by how they look, and have refused to read books that are apparently amazing and everything, just because they look like shit. It’s a matter or principle. Why spend 3 years writing a masterpiece then give it to some goof with a certificate in desktop publishing to design the cover in an hour, with 14 different fonts?! Making it look like a calling card advert in a 7-11 window. Or a motivational poster with a cat that says “Hang in There!”
Stupid I know… maybe I’m shallow… but it’s the truth.

When I saw Submarine by Joe Dunthorne sitting on the shelf, I knew that I was going to read it. Just because. I just was. Because of that weird principle. It looks like a teenager drew the cover during a really bad math class, and that’s part of the allure. It looks like a cohesive package.
And the cover sums up the book perfectly.
Tits. Dogs. School.
Enough said.

The main character is an English teenage smarty pants named Oliver Tate, who, although running with a bunch of really badass school bullies, only wants to fix his parents’ marriage and once and a while score with the ladies. Somewhat an odd kid, he tracks his parents’ sex habits, goes to therapy on his own volition, hangs out with a kid named Chips, torments a girl name Zoe and dates a girl with really bad eczema. But he’s actually a really good kid, but due to his intellectual superiority and lack of tact, comes across as a bit of a dick. A lot of the time. Most of the time. And this drew me to him immediately. A cringing character that keeps you coming back for more. Hoping for more and at the same time hoping that he’ll just stop being a “twat”.

Joe Dunthorne crafts this book beautifully. Making a story without any boring lulls and characters that don’t quite make sense. Oliver’s voice is believable and funny and sometimes achingly sad, and this makes me like Joe Dunthorne even more. He made a teenage boy sound like a real teenage boy. And that’s something that I’ve rarely seen done before.

And honestly, I really did judge this book by it’s cover. Maybe that makes me superficial… who knows?!

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