Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Book Review: Festival, by David Belbin

Photo by Chris Ford

Festival follows four different people and their friends before and during Glastonbury Festival. 16 year old Leila has to beg her mum to be allowed to go, whilst 14 year old Holly reluctantly goes with her parents and little brother. Wilf has to sell his ticket, so he decides to jump the fence, as does Jake, who is supposed to be performing at the festival, but can't get in contact with his manager. The book is written in third person and switches the character it is following every couple of pages or so. At first the characters interact only with the groups they arrived with, but after a while the stories start to intertwine.

I really liked the way the stories all joined together in the end. It didn't seem contrived at all, which was refreshing, as sometimes novels with this format can seem more like a short story collection that's been awkwardly spliced together. The plots were believable as well, although I thought that Wilf and Jake had much more exciting storylines than the girls.

I did find it to be a bit of a slow read. I think this is because the characterisation is quite simplistic. It is not a very long book, and perhaps it suffers from the frequently changing viewpoints. I felt that there wasn't enough back story for the characters, and that they didn't have enough individual quirks. I also thought that the male characters were more interesting than the female characters, they seemed to have more developed personalities, whereas Holly always seemed to be stuck on the cusp of doing something exciting, and Leila switched between cautious and bold a little too easily.

This book has dated quite badly. It was published in 2001, and was probably written in 2000 because the line-up is from that year, and as you might imagine, the musical references are now a little off. Only a little though, the authors guessed quite well which artists would still be around in the years after the book was published, I'd actually heard of all of the performers mentioned. However, in 2000, mobile phones were a newer invention. Security at Glastonbury was much more lax than it is these days. Nobody takes a digital photograph in the novel. Leila mentions being born in 1984, making her three years older than me!  I was expecting that it would have dated a bit, but I was reminded quite clearly of how much things have changed since I was 13. If this book is ever republished, it will probably have to be quite drastically rewritten first, which is, in a strange way, a bit of a shame.

I would recommend Festival to younger teenagers looking for a quick beach read. I don't think I'll read it again, but it was entertaining and helped me forget the January cold for a little while.


  1. Hmmm....sounds interesting but I'm looking for a little bit faster paced book right now. Great review though! :)

    I wanted to pass this along to you...I got this comment on the sign up page for the YA challenge and it's only available to participants of the challenge....

    "Hi there! I'd be happy to donate free digital copies of my book Covert Youth Agency, The Case of Tangled Love to 2011 Young Adult Reading Challenge participants.

    Just email me through my site: www.jasonancona.com (under "contact") and reference the 2011 YA Reading Challenge.

    Also, book bloggers, please let me know if you'd like to review my latest YA novel: Debugging Tori Redding. Info about it on my site.




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