Beat The Band by Don Calame
|Beat The Band by Don Calame
|Reviewer: Robert James
|Summary: Raunchy, crude, and completely hilarious - but also with a really good heart - the sequel to the wonderful Swim The Fly is just as good as that first book.
|Date: February 2012
|Publisher: Templar Publishing
|External links: Author's website
This is a sequel to the superb Swim the Fly, but for once I’ve pretty much avoided spoilers in this review!
It's a welcome return for the trio of Matt, Sean and Cooper from the earlier book, but there's a significant difference, as Cooper - something of a zany sidekick in the original - takes centre stage here. Moving on from wanting to see a naked girl last year, this time his goal is to go all the way with a girl. Things are looking bad for him, though, when he's paired up for a health project on safe sex with social pariah Hot Dog Helen. Deciding the only way to overcome the humiliation of association with her is to give the school something else to remember him for, Coop persuades the other two members of the trio to enter the Battle of the Bands competition. Can any of them play an instrument? Oh, come on, what do you think?
As much as I liked Matt, I have to say that Cooper, who's cruder, far more brazen, and at times completely obnoxious is, if anything, an even better narrator. Taking the place of Matt's horny grandfather in the crazy adult role is Coop's father, who's unemployed, has memories of his own band, and is a complete scene-stealer - an early part with him showing Cooper how to put a condom on is rather too excruciatingly hilarious to be read in public without attracting some really strange looks (as I found out to my cost on the bus into work!), while the rest of his appearances are just as fantastic. Cooper and his dad are the real stand-out characters for me, but the rest are well drawn as well, especially Helen, and Valerie (who I really loved in the earlier book.) Special mention goes to the dialogue, which is just perfect – perhaps unsurprisingly for a screenwriter, Calame captures the way teenage boys talk to each other, with virtually ever other sentence being an insult without any real meaning behind in, brilliantly.
Like Swim The Fly, this is unashamedly lowbrow. In fact, I’d describe it as the written equivalent of something like American Pie (still my favourite of that genre of teen comedy, so I mean that as a wholehearted compliment; I appreciate not everyone would!) Buried beneath the coarseness and vulgarity, there’s a huge heart here and the ending left me with an absolutely massive grin on my face. It also zips along at a cracking pace – so much so that I finished it in just two sittings, I was so reluctant to put it down. (It would have been one sitting but the day job got in the way!)
Extremely high recommendation to teen boys in particular. According to the author’s website, a third one – focusing on Sean – is in the works and currently set to come out in the autumn; I’ll be waiting eagerly!
Given the subject - a teenage boy with a brain tumour - you wouldn't expect Henry Tumour by Anthony McGowan to be side-splittingly, staggeringly, funny, but believe me, it is. Like this book, though, it's also massively warm-hearted and features wonderful characters.
You can read more book reviews or buy Beat The Band by Don Calame 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 Beat The Band by Don Calame at Amazon.com.
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