Review Blog

Nov 15 2010

Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich

cover image

Serpent's Tail. ISBN 978 1846687549.
(Ages: 14+) When Elliot comes into his life, things change totally. Seymour is inept, a butt of jokes and taunts by the others, derided for his lack of interest in sport, he is bullied and left out. Elliot is a strange, geeky boy, expelled from every school he has ever been to, and so his very wealthy father has placed him in this school on the lower north side of New York, the bottom rung in private education. Seymour's parents despair of him ever fitting in until Elliot comes into their son's life. Elliot's interest is in manipulation, he goes to great lengths to change people's opinions of Seymour, employing his bodyguard, James to do the most devious things to ensure Seymour fits in, preparing him for class president.
Stories told to Seymour by Elliot and his father, Terry, underline the immoral activity that both involve themselves in, having no thought to whoever they tread on in their schemes to gain power. To Elliot, raising Seymour's status in school is a game, Seymour is a pawn to be moved around, the others beneath his contempt. Seymour becomes seduced by Elliot's wealth and ability to manipulate until, in his final year at school, he meets Ashley, the girl Elliot manipulated out of becoming class president many years before. It is only now that Seymour can see what Elliot has done.
A laugh out loud story, the two main characters reflect different sides of the coin. Elliot, all powerful and needing power to survive, manipulates Seymour mercilessly, making him the most popular boy in school, successful and confident, but alone with only Elliot as a friend. Seymour's days are ruled by Elliot until he meets Ashley, a broken and wounded young woman. He now sees the results of Elliot's game and decides he wants no more of it. A rather unsettling read of power and friendship, the moral vacuum in which Elliot lives will initiate much thought and discussion.
Fran Knight

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