Tuesday 26 January 2016

Reviewed: Simon Says by Daniel Gothard

Simon Says was published by Urbane Publications on December 28, 2015.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Simon Says is a witty romantic comedy told purely from a male perspective, which is something refreshingly different in this genre. I was interested to see how the man’s take on romance would come across and protagonist Simon is the perfect character for us to follow through this romantic comedy because he is, truly, hopeless and therefore with his lack of tact, we get to see his honest take on all things love, whereas normally the guy is the secondary character we only get small insight into.

Simon is happily in a relationship with Meredith until a drunken comment from his father-in-law reveals that for the first six months of their relationship, Meredith was seeing a guy called Dean at the same time. Though he tries to put on a brave face, this confession wrecks Simon – he’s no idea what to do with himself and how to approach Meredith. All he can picture is her with another guy and he’s not sure how to feel. As he tries to figure things out, he turns to his best mate Sean, and this was my favourite part of the book.

The friendship between Simon and Sean is a really fun aspect of the book. They both contrasted well with each other, with Simon being a bit clueless and acting without thinking first coming to rely a lot on Sean’s voice of reason. Sean was a great friend – always just a text or lads night in away from Simon and always there to support him. I liked getting to see Sean’s character develop too and I felt just as invested in his life as I did Simon’s, which is something I don’t often feel about supporting characters.

A lot of their communication, and actually a lot of all the conversation in Simon Says was via text message which was an aspect I enjoyed more than I thought I would! Daniel’s writing showed off the true trauma of texts – how to word things right, how things can be taken the wrong way, how many kisses to put on the end, what’s too formal, too informal, the need to make sure you’re sending to the right contact, the text message signs that someone is pissed off with you etc etc. Whoever said sending a text message is simple was lying, and Simon Says just proves it.

Another thing seen a lot in Simon Says was movie references. There were tons and tons of movie references, from characters to quotes (and intentional misquotes) to ending scenes. Now I appreciate this was part of the style of the book, and it made sense with the tone of Simon and Sean’s friendship, but I have to confess that most of the references went over my head as I’m not much of a movie buff. I found myself wishing I could get the joke as most of the time I couldn’t, but I suppose it serves me right for always having my head in a book and not stopping to watch a film! What I did get was some of the music references and I constantly had a song in my head throughout reading this book.

The romance in this book felt very genuine and believable, at least until the end. As Simon bids to at least try and move on from Meredith, he goes on a few different dates and there’s a mixture of women he meets and each date is different but also traumatic. Dating was hard-work for Simon, as I’m sure many people can relate to. I laughed and cringed my way through some of his unfortunate dates and wondered if he would ever get the hang of talking to a woman! The only thing I didn’t really buy was the ending. I kind of saw it coming, because the way Simon was being made to feel bad about the whole situation from his friends hinted at it. Personally I didn’t really feel he warranted any of the stick he was getting, so I would probably have preferred a different resolution. But it was tied up nicely. A quick read at less than 200 pages, Simon Says is an amusing read, quick-witted and very honest.

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