I’ve watched the film version of Starter For Ten so many times now and it really is one of my favourites so I am quite surprised that it has taken me this long to read the novel. Because of my love for the film I had high hopes for the book and it really did not disappoint.
The book follows Brian Jackson who is a little bit of a geek, completely uncool but stupidly loveable, on his journey from college to university. Obsessed with University Challenge, Kate Bush and reading, Brian aims to better himself by leaving his small town and the house he shares with just his mother, after his father dies a few years previous, by leaving for university in Bath to study English Literature.
While at university we get to see the usual struggles anyone who has ever been to university will understand, trying to fit in, trying to make friends, trying to learn as much as possible through work and experiences and to a certain extent trying to reinvent yourself from the teenager you were to the adult you want to become. I sympathised a lot with Brian mainly because I’m just as socially awkward as he is, though maybe not to that extent, which does make for some absolutely hilarious moments and anecdotes throughout though.
Nicholls’ writing is what really makes this character and story come alive, maybe taking cues from his own experiences or those of others, which makes for a truly believable character struggling through terrible social faux pas and the need to constantly improve himself.
Compared to the film it follows relatively closely, there are a few moments that don’t happen in the film that do in the book or that have been changed for the film probably to add a little bit more drama to the storyline. I found Brian slightly more loveable in the film but whether that is because he is played by James McAvoy or not is yet to be proved.
All in all, this is a wonderful novel from an author that has really made a name for himself over his career for writing brilliant stories that you can truly believe in with characters that you will love, hate or just like for all the right reasons. If you have watched the film but not read the book then I recommend you read this and if you haven’t read the book or watched the film then you should do both right now in whichever order you see fit.
A must read novel for fans of novels with happy, sad and humorous moments with a side order of an unrequited love story.