Review Blog

Jul 16 2010

Rich and Mad by William Nicolson

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Egmont, 2010. ISBN 9781405247399.
(Age Range:16-18 Upper Secondary) I approached this book with interest, considering the success and popularity of William Nicolson's The Wind on Fire Trilogy presenting fantastical worlds of fast-paced action and imaginative characters all beautifully described. Obviously, the subject matter of Rich and Mad is quite different and, I suspect, strange territory for the author.
Maddy Fisher decides in the opening paragraph that it is time for her to fall in love; 'can't-eat can't-sleep crazy in love.' At this time in her life, though, she has no clue as to who she may fall for. Maddy takes the reader on a love-search journey to home, school, friends' houses and the shops where we share in rather silly, self indulgent conversations with family and friends about her wish to find a love partner. The most unlikely boy around is Rich, yet it is easy to predict that he will make it happen! Rich Ross is in Maddy's year at school but he is attracted to Maddy's friend Grace. There follows a stream of incidences where friends betray each other, and lies and jealousy bring unhappiness.
Nicolson writes a superficial story with little character interest. Any attempts at description are clumsy and ill-fitting. One cannot take seriously the phrase - 'The vapour trails of high-flying jets were slowly disintegrating, forming long streamers of transparent cloud against the blue' to begin a chapter entitled 'The Boy with the Sex Manual'.
There are aspects of this book which will be read and enjoyed but it is generally cliched and lacking depth. There are better books around which look at first sexual experience where characters play out an interesting storyline as well.
Julie Wells

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