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I realise that a book should never be chosen by its cover, but that's exactly how I selected 'The Dead Fathers Club' by Matt Haig. After struggling to find anything in W.H Smith to suit my 'holiday-reading' criteria, my eventual choice (with the David Hughes illustrated cover) looked as good as anything else - so I decided to give it a go.
With a recommended retail price of £7.99, the paperback version of the book can be purchased cheaper on amazon.co.uk for only £5.99.
The story focuses on Phillip Noble, an eleven-year-old who has recently lost his dad in a car accident. One evening, his father's ghost unexpectedly appears to him, and claims 'Uncle Alan' was responsible for his death. Asking his son to exact revenge, Philip must act quickly - but is his fathers ghost really there, or is it all a trick of the mind?
Apparently, the story is supposed to be a modern day take on Shakespeare's Hamlet, although being the uncultured person that I am, I didn't realise that until after I had read the book and someone told me.
Instantly, I was aware that The Dead Fathers Club is a very similar piece of writing to Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time', both in terms of its childlike narrative and general writing style.
The story is told from Philip's perspective, which places the reader firmly in the mind of an eleven-year-old. Whilst making for an entertaining insight, it is here that the book loses a little credibility, as some of the thoughts that Philip has would appear highly improbable for a boy of that age - that said, what do I know, as I haven't been eleven for quite some time!
Like some of my reviews, the punctuation in the book is basically non-existent, although this is done on purpose in order to further emphasise the age of the narrator - for example, "And so I picked up my fork and started to eat and mum smiled at Uncle Alan thinking he had got me to eat it and that made me so mad and Dads Ghost could see it made me so mad but mum couldnt see it like my mood was a ghost"
Although slightly annoying at first, it's an interesting way to write, and as a reader I found myself adapting to the style fairly easily. In my opinion, the book's main weakness comes in the form of its ending which feels anti-climatic and a little rushed. Having enjoyed the book until its final pages, I felt let down by the poor finale which should, and could have been a lot better.
In conclusion, I enjoyed reading The Dead Fathers Club, although as previously mentioned, I generally felt it read like a less enjoyable version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. That said, due to its unusual and creative subject-matter, I would still give the book a cautious recommendation.