Monday, March 09, 2009

Book Review: Girl on the Platform, by Josephine Cox

The only good thing about this book is how quickly it is over.

The story focuses on best mates Mark and Pete who go to London for a night out. At the station they begin their journey at, Pete sees a sad-looking girl on the opposite platform, and quickly becomes obsessed with the idea of finding out who she is and helping her. On the way to London the men realise that they won't have enough time to visit any nightclubs after the theatre show they have tickets for if they have to catch the last train home, so they find a hostel, run by Leila, the stereotypical "feisty" landlady. The London section is well paced and funny, and gives enough background info about Mark and Pete to make them sympathetic, but once they go back home the book deteriorates so quickly it's almost beyond belief! The rest of this review will contain spoilers, but the book really isn't good enough for you to be concerned about having the ending spoiled.

The following few months are rushed through, Pete becoming more and more obsessed with the girl he saw on the platform, seeing her again and eventually coming up with a plan to meet her and get her to like him. A normal, non-creepy version of this scenario would involve Pete asking her out on a date, etc, but instead he gets manipulative and after finding out her dog has recently died he buys a puppy which he then pretends he found abandoned - I imagine the reader is supposed to be thinking "Aaaww, puppy" but I was distracted by the fact that he was building their relationship on a basis of lies! I was looking forward to seeing how they'd resolve things once he told her what he'd done to get her to date him, but then the book jumps to six weeks later, when they become engaged, and he has yet to tell her the truth. I'm sure if they were real people she would be pretty confused if not completely horrified when finding out the truth after so long and such a big commitment, even though his lies hurt no-one, they were pretty big lies, but the author doesn't deal with her reaction at all and just skips past Pete's thoughts that he must tell his fiancée the truth through to the wedding party in the next paragraph.

On the upside, it does what it says on the cover, it is a quick read - I read the whole thing on a train journey from Edinburgh to London - and is only £1.99. But I get the impression this book was intended for people who don't read very often in a patronising sort of way - the plot is so simplistic it's insulting to the intelligence of the reader. Reading this will not teach you anything, you may even find it frustrating, but at least it's not long enough to get tedious!

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