Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich
|Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Maurizio Valeri|
|Summary: The adventures of an evil teenage billionaire.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: August 2010|
|Publisher: Serpent's Tail|
Meet thirteen year-old Seymor Herson, he's one of life's losers, the least popular boy at Glendale a second rate private school in New York. He has made a virtue of mediocrity and is happy to simply survive his time at Glendale rather than try and excel at anything.
Meet thirteen year-old Elliot Allagash heir to one of the largest fortunes in America. Elliot who makes a habit of being thrown out of exclusive private schools has finally ended up at Glendale whose reliance on his family's funding means that he cannot be expelled despite his various misdemeanours. Expulsion not being an option Elliot embarks on an equally difficult project, to make Seymor into the most popular boy in school and beyond that to turn him into a young prodigy, the talk of the New York elite. Can he achieve this? And at what cost?
Some books are plot led, some are character driven and this is certainly the latter. The protagonists in this novel are fabulous. Elliot is a masterful literary creation. He is delightfully immoral, an evil genius, a Bond villain in the making. The schemes he thinks of to advance his self imposed mission of elevating Seymor to the highest echelons of school hierarchy are cruel, outrageous but wonderfully imaginative. Even the most righteous minded reader cannot help but be carried along by their sheer audaciousness and Machiavellian planning. While Elliot is the force of nature that runs through the novel his character can never be truly engaging, he's just too bad for that! Seymor takes on the sympathetic everyman role, an ineffectual boy who accepts his place as school whipping boy if not with grace with a resigned stoicism that makes you side with him from the very beginning. With Elliot behind him he can't fail but we soon see that his relationship with Elliot is a classic Faustian pact and in the end there has to be some painful retribution.
Simon Rich is still a young author and this is his first novel. He cut his teeth as the youngest ever writer for Saturday night live and can be best described as a humorist. The voice he gives to his young characters is very authentic. The story describes a series of increasingly complicated ever more shocking scams and schemes punctuated by hilarious back stories featuring some the secondary characters including James the Allagash's enigmatic henchman and Terry, Elliot's drunken multibillionaire father. The relationship between Elliot and Seymor is well observed and what starts off as a one-sided patronage on the part of Elliot develops into a true friendship or at least as close to friendship as Elliot is capable of.
Easy comparisons can be made to Catcher in the Rye but while the teenage characters are certainly as distinctive I don't think this novel examines teenage angst or growing pains in such an insightful way. Witty with, in parts, slightly dark undertones this novel is a very enjoyable read including some extremely funny laugh out loud moments. The author's skill as a screenwriter means that the story already has a cinematic feel to it and is crying out to be adapted for the big screen and I for one would like to see more of the unashamedly wicked Elliot Allagash.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestions: If this appeals then have a look at Tommy Sullivan is a Freak by Meg Cabot, The Challenge by Tom Hoyle, King Dork by Frank Portman, My Side Of The Story by Will Davis. We've also reviewed Rich's What in God's Name.
You can read more book reviews or buy Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich at Amazon.com.
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