Book Reviews

Meltdown by Ben Elton

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 480 Pages.

Published: 08 July 2010 by Black Swan

Edition: UK ed.

ISBN: 055277510X

EAN: 9780552775106

For amiable City trader Jimmy Corby money was the new Rock n' Roll. His whole life was a party, adrenalin charged and cocaine fuelled. If he hadn't met Monica he would probably have ended up either dead or in rehab. But Jimmy was as lucky in love as he was at betting on dodgy derivatives, so instead of burning out, his star just burned brighter.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Stephen Found

No character empathy

Meltdown is the story of 6 friends Jimmy, Henry, Rupert, David, Robbo and Lizzie who all shared a house together in their university days and become very successful in their own rights. Jimmy is a trader in the futures market, Henry is a politician, Rupert is the CEO of a bank, David is an architect, Lizzie runs her own business and Robbo is an affable, loveable insanely rich guy who is married to Lizzie and spends his time doing nothing much at all. The story charts how Britains financial meltdown affects them all.

The way the story is told is by switching between the present and the past in alternating chapters. The present mainly focuses on Jimmy, his wife Monica and their 3 children struggling with impossible amounts of debt and having to come to terms with life in the real world. The past is told through tales of the friends meeting annually and the conversations they have all have on their way to fortune and power. This works well as it gives a stark contrast to the way things were and the way things now are.

The problem for me is that I felt absolutely no sympathy for any of them. Jimmy is portrayed as a guy that just rode his luck to get where he was and was not above doing illegal things to make more money with Monica playing the role of his conscience. After the crash however he becomes just a normal, likeble guy looking in bewilderment at how he got into the debt he was in and trying to deal with it in a sane, calm manner. It just did not work for me, Jimmy is supposed to be one of the money grabbing villains of the 21st century responsible for the economic disaster not a grounded, likeable family man struggling with his own debt in sensible ways.

As a piece of modern social history however, the book really does work.

There are things in the book that really do work well and it's contemporary theme and astute, witty observations make it well worth a read.

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