First Book Bloggers Book Club Review: SLAM

2 Mar

This review is part of the First Book Bloggers Book Club. Check out other reviews from other bloggers at the First Book Blog here.

I am not a stranger to Nick Hornby. I’ve always had a soft spot for his awkward adult male narrators and his authentic British dialect. I was hoping that this affinity I’ve got for these aspects of Hornby’s work would transmit in his only YA novel, SLAM. A summary from the First Book marketplace:

Just when everything is coming together for Sam, his girlfriend Alicia drops a bombshell. Make that ex-girlfriend–because by the time she tells him she’s pregnant, they’ve already called it quits. Sam does not want to be a teenage dad. His mom had him at sixteen and has made it very clear how having a baby so young interrupted her life. There’s only one person Sam can turn to–his hero, skating legend Tony Hawk. Sam believes the answers to life’s hurdles can be found in Hawk’s autobiography. But even Tony Hawk isn’t offering answers this time–or is he? Inexplicably, Sam finds himself whizzed into the future, for a quick glimpse of what will be… or what could be. In this wonderfully witty, poignant story about a teenage boy unexpectedly thrust into fatherhood, it’s up to Sam to make the right decisions so the bad things that could happen, well, don’t.

Sam is a good kid. That much is clear from the very beginning. He loves his mom, he worries about getting in trouble and he’s looking for any kind of guidance he can get his hands on.  And he really likes Alicia. But in the summary up there, the part where it says, “Inexplicably, Sam finds himself whizzed into the future, for a quick glimpse of what will be… or what could be.” That was where the wheels came off the tracks for me. I was genuinely rooting for Sam until that point (I wasn’t that fond of Alicia because all we really get is Sam’s point of view), and I was trying to be as understanding as possible about the poor decisions he made and the penchant he had for running away. He’s a kid, after all.  But the jump into the future? Made zero narrative sense to me. From a purely technical standpoint, I was able to put aside the fact that Sam’s narrative voice annoyed the hell out of me (most teenage boys annoy me anyway – so that was accurate). I was able to suspend a bit more disbelief that he talked to his Tony Hawk poster – again, teenage boys are a mystery to me. But I couldn’t get past the point of jumping into the future – and it happens in such a way that it can’t be logically explained away as a dream.

I kept reading for a few dozen pages past that point, but I quickly found that I wasn’t picking it up, that I was dreading trying to read a chapter or two, especially since this is the first episode in the First Book Bloggers Book Club. I don’t know if the book just wasn’t for me, or if it would be much more appealing to a male audience – it is SUCH a boy book. But I can say it wasn’t for me. This will be my first (and hopefully last) “Did Not Finish” read of the year.

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One Response to “First Book Bloggers Book Club Review: SLAM”

  1. William Torgerson June 3, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Slam is one of the few of Hornby’s I started and couldn’t finished. High Fidelity and Juliet, Naked are two of my favs. A Long Way Down is another one I didn’t care for.

    Torg

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