[this review comes to the burger from the lovely leila roy, parachuting in from her brilliant blog Bookshelves of Doom]
1. Lives at home with his organic-food-eating, Amazonian mother, his inventor father, his adorable and beloved little sister, a flatulent dog and a zen master.
2. Has just graduated high school, and despite being a certified genius, has no college plans.
3. Works in a video store, where he refuses to allow people to rent Hugh Grant movies.
4. Is in love with Eleanor -- call her Ellen, please -- Rigby, goes out with (or used to go out with) Chad Chilton.
5. Is being stalked by the aforementioned Chad Chilton, who, on the last day of school, informed Stan, "I WILL HURT YOU. BAD."
My thoughts on Going Nowhere Faster:
1. I enjoyed Stan's book and movie references:
Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking: Stan's been reading Catcher in the Rye. Hey, it's not my fault there are two people in the world who are hopeless and also love their little sisters. Besides, that's a book. This is life. In fact, sitting there, I was again reminded that Olivia was the only thing, the only evidence, the only compelling arguing I could make, just by her sheer existence, that the world wasn't, in reality, a massive and useless pile of crap. So Holden can go screw.
Regardless of the fact that it seems to be happening more and more often, I'm still not sick of YA characters referencing Holden. The "that's a book, this is real life" line is getting a bit tired, though.
2. Most of the characters were just types -- the embarrassing hippie mother, the trying-too-hard-to-be-hip shrink, the cool-without-trying best friend, the adorable little sister, the unsuccessful inventor father, the stinky but lovable old dog. The two love interests, Cari and Ellen, had more potential than the rest, but they never really got fleshed out. Even though I didn't find many of the characters particularly multifaceted or engaging, I did find that Stan had a real talent for describing types. This is a description of his therapist:
He also tended to use "lingo," mostly MTV rapper stuff, Do you feel what I'm saying? or I hear you, nodding like he knew what it meant or like if you went to his house and looked in his fifteen-CD-changer it wouldn't be filled with every Simon and Garfunkel album ever made.
Unfortunately, character development of the minor characters was done like this: Stan's boss is an ex-jock-pot-bellied-candy-vacuum. Near the end of the book, Stan visits his boss's apartment and discovers that he is an ex-jock-pot-bellied-candy-vacuum with chintz curtains and framed Klimt prints. Similar scenes happen with other characters, teaching Stan that He Doesn't Know Everything about Everything, and that You Shouldn't Judge People.
3. The humor was really hit or miss for me -- at first I enjoyed the chapter headings (Chapter One: STRANGERS ON A very strange and long and boring TRAIN) and I liked the first couple of lists, but after about twenty pages, it got old and just felt like he was trying too hard to be funny. Major death knell for comedy.
4. My favorite part of the book was Appendix B: Stan Smith's Totally Official List of the Sixteen BEST Truly Awful Films Ever Made, which included Roadhouse, The Color of Night (which, thinking about it years later, still makes me cringe) and actually made me want to see The Postman in a train wreck sort of way.
5. Interestingly, the book is pretty clean, considering the age of the narrator. Stan's mom offers him some condoms (in what what I thought was the funniest scene) and he has some beers, but other than that, I can't think of anything major that parents would find objectionable.
Personally, I'd rather hang out with Randal, but it might go over well with some teen movie buffs/reluctant reader-y fans of humorous fiction.