Newest Review: ... youíll most likely be disappointed in the watered down attempt at that genre that ďTunnel VisionĒ provides. If youíre not a fan of either ... more
Member Name: IainWear
Date: 02/03/05, updated on 28/04/05 (72 review reads)
Advantages: Mild fascination to start
Disadvantages: Feelng wanes quickly
If you are or have ever lived or worked in London, or have ever visited, thereís a fair chance youíve been on the Tube. Chances are youíve only ever used it to get from one place to another and not looked at all the places you could go to. This is especially true if youíre using the tube at rush hour, where your main concern is to get to your destination and get your face out of the armpit of the person standing next to you. Who cares where you can go when getting to where you need to be is so smelly and distasteful?
Andyís done something a bit stupid. Heís taken on a bet that even Tony Hawks would have derided as being too absurd. Heís bet that he can visit every station on the London Underground in a single day. Having been talked into the bet whilst drunk, at stake are his credit cards, his passport and his honeymoon tickets. For as if taking the bet on doesnít appear stupid enough to begin with, Andy is due to be getting married tomorrow and if he doesnít win, itís not likely to happen. Essentially, heís bet his entire future against the Tube.
Starting at Morden at 5 a.m., we follow Andy through the whole of the Underground in a race against time, points failures and delayed trains. We see him accompanied by a tramp, who attaches himself to Andy and follows him around for the whole day. We get glimpses of Rachel, Andyís fiancťe, as she prepares herself for the big day and wonders what on earth Andy is up to and where he is.
Perhaps surprisingly for a story that is essentially a race against time, itís not really a fast paced read. This is largely because for the majority of the story, itís simply two people sitting on the Tube chatting as they travel from place to place. Whilst the reasons for them travelling might be fairly interesting, the actual journey isnít. There are parts where the pace picks up a little, largely while Andy is running from one platform to another to change trains, but thatís about it.
It also feels that the bits involving Rachel have been added in to make things a little more interesting. With these included, itís no longer a story of two blokes on a Tube, it gives it a little wider interest, turning what is more or less a travel book into something a little more human and well on the way to being a work of bloke-lit. However, it seems to fall a little between the two, feeling as if itís trying a little too hard to be more popular.
It succeeds slightly more as a book that would appeal to Tube users. Whilst there isnít enough for it to be for Tube buffs as such, thereís a few little nuggets of information that may enlighten the casual traveller or commuter. However, although this group will have more of an understanding of the problems Andy faces on his journey, itís unlikely that many of us will have experienced them all, and certainly not all in a single day, which makes the whole thing seem a little unrealistic.
The bookís main failing, however, is in the characters. Andy is more of an anti-hero than a main character. Itís difficult to get involved with the bet as Andy isnít presented as a person you can sympathise with or care about. You know he has a lot at stake, but you just think of him as a bit stupid for taking the bet on in the first place and even more so for when he took it on. Whilst many of us may be able to identify with Andy, very few of us would ever even think about trying what heís doing, much less do it.
If youíve never been on the London Underground, there is really little to recommend this book. Itís not terribly well written and itís trying a little too hard. You wonít be interested in the bet that makes up the story and if youíre a fan of either chick-lit or bloke-lit, youíll most likely be disappointed in the watered down attempt at that genre that ďTunnel VisionĒ provides. If youíre not a fan of either genre, this will hold no interest for you at all.
If you have used the Tube or, even more so, if you use it regularly, this might hold some interest. Not for the story itself, but to see Andyís journey as it intersects your own. Itís a little like watching a travel programme that has a segment on somewhere youíve been to, as you can watch it and say ďooh, we went there!Ē. Itís likely to have a brief fascination, but no real interest.
Itís not a book you can really sit down and enjoy, more one to be picked at occasionally. Itís one you can pick up and put down very easily which would make it ideal reading for your Tube journey to and from work, if it were any good. If youíre likely to be interested in seeing your regular journey in a book, you can find copies on the Amazon Marketplace from £1.00, which is really about all itís worth, given how little pleasure itís likely to provide. It can also be found on Amazon at £5.59 and in bookshops at £6.99, but I really wouldnít recommend you pay that for it, as once the initial fascination has passed, thereís nothing of substance left.