|Rich and Mad by William Nicholson|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: A good book that could have been great, but nonetheless a highly recommended read for teens and young adults.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: April 2010|
|Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd|
When Maddy Fisher goes for something, she goes all out. She has decided to fall in love, but not just any kind of love – it has to be the can't-eat-can't-sleep, crazy kind. But then once you get to know Maddy, you'd expect nothing less, for this is a girl who lives with a camel and thinks nothing of choosing her parents' shop over her own well equipped room when she wants to find a bed to curl up in for a think.
Rich Ross doesn't live in a shop, but his mother runs a kindergarten from their front room, which is almost the same. And he too is on a mission to find love, so that's another aspect he and Maddy have in common. Unfortunately, there's one more thing they share: they've both set their sights on rather unsuitable people – one is already loved up, the other is just rather unpleasant. With this book you get two for the price of one, as we follow both stories, boy and girl, Rich and Mad, through their muddling steps into first love. And, as Willy Shakespeare so aptly put it, this is a course that never did run smooth. Think affairs, betrayal, divorce and death, friendships and feuds, ill founded rumours, abuses of power. It's all rather messy, and that's before you even get to the sticky sex stuff.
After the first couple of pages, I was convinced I was going to enjoy this book an awful lot, and as I ploughed through the first half, nothing changed my mind. I thought it was an interesting, well-crafted story that was progressing at just the right speed, allowing time for reflection without slowing to a snail's pace.
Then things changed. Out of the blue, the story was flooded with new twists and turns that changed the plot entirely. It was like Mission Impossible where you can never quite tell who the baddies are, and who's on your side. I struggled to keep track of what was true and real, what was rumour, and what was just made up nonsense. In fact, Maddy's friend Grace hits the nail on the head with her words, I can't keep up. Am I just stupid? What's going on?
I continued with the story, which had morphed from a two for the price of one into a 12 for the price of one, so plentiful were the ever-emerging new threads. The web of deceit grew yet more tangled, which I would not have thought possible a chapter or two ago. In a suitably fickle way considering we're talking about teenagers, allegiances switched sides, crushes changed their objects of affection, and pregnancies appeared then disappeared within a matter of minutes. It would have been comical if it wasn't so disappointing, because I was really getting into the lives of Maddy and Rich, and just wanted everything to work out for them, without all these new distractions to contemplate.
Despite all this, I couldn't put it down. It was the words that had me hooked, and without a doubt the kind of book to prove the point that writing is an art. With a surprising, yet effective, amount of floaty and quite removed narrative, it's perhaps not your typical teen read, especially with the heavy emphasis on the physical side of sex as well as the abstract side of love, but it works beautifully. The back cover warns of Some explicit content but while the language is colourful at times, it's not obscene or gratuitous, nor is it anything its target readership won't have heard before.
In the end I finished the last page feeling only slightly let down. It was a brilliant read, but like a genius child who only just scrapes a C grade, it failed to live up to its full potential.
Thanks go to the publishers for sending us this book.
Rich and Mad is a coming of age drama, reminiscent of An Education by Lynn Barber which The Bookbag also recommends.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rich and Mad by William Nicholson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Rich and Mad by William Nicholson at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.