Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
|Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Often crude; always hilarious. This is a brilliant story which teens will love, and relate to.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2014|
|Publisher: Chicken House|
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2015
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of teen fiction and I think it does an awful lot of things really well. Amongst other things, it can transport the reader to faraway times and places. It can also let them empathise with people in situations that they’ll probably – and in many cases hopefully – never be in themselves. I think it’s fair to say, looking at the recent Carnegie longlist as just one example, that books which do either of the above things tend to be the most critically-acclaimed.
But something else books for teens can do incredibly well is to allow readers to see that they’re not alone. That the everyday worries they go through, and the problems they have, are common to loads of people as they’re growing up. These kind of books don’t tend to get the high level of critical praise that the others do, but are they any less important? Lobsters is a perfect example of one of these less high concept books. It’s the story of two teens trying to lose their virginities before going off to university. They’re both legally allowed to have sex, they’re both keen on the idea, but a mixture of their friends, bad timing, and sheer dumb luck keeps getting in the way. It’s played for laughs and it’s hugely successful at getting them – I was nearly falling off my chair quite early on – but it’s also a book which really cares about its characters. Yes, there are some people acting in massively stupid ways at time but they’re not nasty to each other – just impulsive and sometimes careless.
The comedy is hilarious – the scene in which the boys try to burn their French books to celebrate finishing, without much success, is an early gem, but if anything things get even better from there. Sam and Hannah are brilliant narrators and have very strong, distinctive voices.
One warning, though - there's some seriously strong language here. It's not something that bothers me as a reader, and it fits the characters well, but it's probably something librarians and teachers in particular should be aware of before recommending this one to younger teens or those with parents who may be offended.
With that proviso, really strong recommendation to anyone looking to laugh like crazy through an entire book!
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You can read more book reviews or buy Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison at Amazon.com.
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