Monday, 26 May 2014

A Long Way Down- Book review

I'm a big Aaron Paul fan. After being coerced into watching every single episode of Breaking Bad in a two month window, I became about as obsessed with the show as Walt did with producing crystal meth. Coupled with the addiction was a real liking for lovable rogue Jesse Pinkman, and so my love affair with Aaron Paul began. So when I heard that he was to be cast in a new film adapted from a Nick Hornby novel, I was excited. He plays a troubled musician contemplating suicide who meets four strangers as they prepare to hurl themselves from the roof of a skyscraper. So far, so happy. With a great cast comprising Pierce Brosnan and Toni Collette, the tale is a bleakly comedic take on what it means to truly live.

Whilst I haven't made the time to go and see the film in the cinema, I did think it was a novel that might be right up my street. Told from the different perspectives of it's central characters, it explores the reasons why each individual might contemplate suicide and explores their relationships with one another. The characters themselves couldn't be more different- a disgraced TV presenter, angst-ridden teenager, middle-aged carer and failed musician. Bought together on a rooftop, the story begins.

Some characters were better than others. I found myself having sympathy for Maureen, a middle-aged carer for her disabled child. She seemed to be the only person who was a victim of circumstance rather than her own stupidity. As a character, Jess was quite grating. She was very one-dimensional- immature, spoilt and reckless with no responsibility for her own actions. Despite her troubled past, something that features heavily in the book, I found myself not warming to her at all.

The plot itself starts off well and there are some good attempts at dark comedy throughout. Sadly, the ending was quite predictable and a bit disappointing. Whilst it was a great read, it certainly wasn't the life-affirming book I'd imagined. Worth reading for the characterisation and witty writing but don't expect anything too spectacular.