Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

Chart Throb

Chart Throb: Ben Elton, December 1—23, 2011

My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊

Ben Elton’s Chart Throb is the successor to X Factor and the novel follows the lives of the judges and contestants in what can be generally described as a satire of the format.

The judges are pertinently Simon Cowell, Sharon Osborne and Louis Walsh-esque, right down to the Beryl’s The Osbornes style show. The characters in the book actually refer to Cowell and Osborne (and their superiority to them) and to X Factor, which Chart Throb has replaced.

It’s fair to say Chart Throb, as a novel, is not generous to the reality TV scene. It presents Calvin ‘Simon Cowell’ Simms as an uncaring puppet master and the show is shamelessly manipulative. Is this reality? I would like to give X Factor more credit than Elton does, but there are also clearly elements of truth.

The main characters are all likeable in their own bizarre way, lampooned to breaking point but entertaining for the reader. The contestants, too, have distinct personalities and back stories. One of the most prominent and interesting storylines is Calvin’s attempts to have Prince Charles win the competition which begins as a thoroughly bizarre twist but, with enough suspended belief, becomes all part of the fun.

The concluding twist is completely unexpected and very well-played. Elton delivers a thoroughly shocking final act that ties up the remaining loose ends and delivers the book’s message.

The drawback for me is how dark and graphic the novel becomes in parts. The high jinks and nonsense are juxtaposed with a bulimic character who almost kills herself, for example, and crude, explicit sexual details. The unpredictable tone makes it hard to swallow.

Overall, Elton has devised a clever story and writes it very well, creating colourful, hilarious characters that doesn’t quite get three yeses from the panel, but manages to get two and through to the next round.

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3 comments on “Chart Throb

  1. Pingback: Dead Famous « Simon Taylor: Reflections and Reactions

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  3. Pingback: A Week in December | Simon's Bookcase

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This entry was posted on December 23, 2011 by in 4 star and tagged .

Author Cloud

@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare