Oct 7, 2010

A Review of David Nicholls' "One Day"

Let me start off by saying, I want you to read this novel but only so you can tell me what you thought of it because as far as my reaction goes… I’m undecided. I’m not using my usual format for this review because it is quite an unusual book. And (since I’m starting off with all these side notes) I’d also like to apologize for the lateness of this post (it’s been a crazy week) and I also want to take a moment to announce the official launch date of my novel (Amber Frost) which will be made available Dec. 7 through ireadiwrite Publishing!!

Ok, back to business.

So I was pretty excited about reading One Day – I’d heard great things. It’s an International bestseller, the film adaptation has already completed filming, it’s been getting some amazing reviews and I’ve always had a weakness for an interesting love-story (not to mention the author, David Nicholls, just looks like a really cool, interesting guy) but this… was not what I expected.

I think my main issue with this novel is the characters. I didn’t love them, for the most part I didn’t even like them but through it all, I was completely fascinated by them. The protagonist, Emma (Em) Morley, is an idiot – there’s no avoiding that fact. No matter how badly I wanted her to be clever and confident and secure in herself, she was not. Though I enjoyed her sense of humor and inner dialogue, I was so frustrated by the poor choices she made that I frequently found myself wincing and groaning out loud. And then there’s Dexter – the douche bag. He really is a douche bag; he takes his friendship with Em (and just about everything else in his life) for granted, he’s self-possessed, disrespectful, egotistical and arrogant, and despite it all, Em loves him and you will too (and you may even hate yourself a little bit for it). Why? Because for some strange, inexplicable reason, we are often attracted to the people who are the least worthy of our love. That’s just the way it is and this is certainly the case with Dexter Mayhew.

The timeline of One Day, though unique, only added to my frustration with this novel. The plot moves at an unusual pace and leaves many gaps as the story leaps forward a year at a time, revisiting Em and Dexter’s relationship every July 15th, starting in 1988 and ending July 15th, 2007. Many of the events and details that you will crave to read the most are only hinted at because they do not fall on this specific, crucial day. July 15th is the only day that Nicholls provides us access to though he does follow his characters through 20 years of their relationship; it’s contradictory and frustrating and because of this, you may not be able to put it down. The entire novel (characters, plot and all the details in-between) was unsatisfying as a whole but that was ultimately what kept me turning the pages and left me craving more.

On the book’s cover The Guardian proclaims this novel to be “roaringly funny”. Apparently “The Guardian” is easily excited or at least prone to exaggeration. Obviously my sense of humor is on a whole different plane (good or bad who knows!?) or maybe I just didn’t “get it”. Either way, I don’t know how anyone could consider this a “funny” book; it’s actually quite a sad book. I think Tony Parsons’s endorsement was more honest when he described One Day to be “about the heartbreaking gap between the way we were and the way we are”. I wish I said that – let’s pretend I did as it sums up One Day quite well.

So while I can’t really decide how I feel about this book, and I definitely won’t read it again, I will say that it is still, for some indefinable reason, worth reading. One Day is interesting, unique and completely irritating. I hated it, then I loved it, then I hated it some more but I think, just like Dexter and Em’s relationship, that was sort of the point.

Would love to know your thoughts if you’ve read it. If you haven’t, you can borrow my copy because there’s one thing I’m certain of - it was not worth the $17.95 cover price I paid. I think I’ll have to stick with ebooks from now on. Hey… did I mention there’s this really great ebook (Amber Frost) coming out on Dec.7th? Mark your calendars...


1 comment:

  1. Really? I absolutely loved it. It is probably my favorite of David Nicholl's three novels. The fact that it took place only on July 15th did not frustrate me at all.