Gridlock - Ben Elton
Reading Challenge Category: A book with a one-word title
Gridlock is when a city dies. Killed in the name of freedom. Killed in the name of oil and steel. Choked on carbon monoxide and strangled with a pair of fluffy dice. How did it come to this? How did the ultimate freedom machine end up paralysing us all? How did we end up driving to our own funeral, in somebody else's gravy train? Deborah and Geoffrey know, but they have transport problems of their own, and anyway, whoever it was that murdered the city can just as easily murder them.
There certainly is truth in jest! Ben Elton’s offering of humour disguised as reality was highly hilarious in this novel. Gridlock is about the UK literally gridlocking itself with cars on the road. No one wants to take public transport because it is unreliable and smelly! No one wants to walk when they can get to places on their fat butts so much faster! We all have cars, and we are all contributing to the problem. I’ve spent many a Saturday stuck in Swindon not being able to get anywhere and wondering why the rest of the world has decided they need to go to the exact same place as me on the exact same day! We are sheep! I found myself being made aware through fiction of all the problems that we just let happen but do nothing about. Elton’s descriptions, although very funny, are quite scary as you can imagine it all getting this bad. I can imagine an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient engine that doesn’t run on petrol to have already been invented. However, I can also believe that the oil companies have put a stop to it being made. There were moments of the book where it plodded on a little, and the number of characters could get confusing, they didn’t have different enough names. They all had silly names, and I think that was the problem it made them nondescript. The best part of this entire book was when he was discussing the ‘Here We Go’ song, having never sung it myself but have heard it I’d never paid much attention to the words nor the meaning. When Elton blatantly says what idiots the British are for singing this moronic song I was in stitches. What on earth is it about, it means nothing, and then when he reminded me of ‘Umpa umpa stick it up your jumper’, well I was gone, I couldn’t stop laughing for five minutes, tears were streaming down my face, and even Morgan started to laugh at the infectiousness of it. A highly amusing and informative book, but a tad too long in my opinion. It went on a bit. It would have received three stars, but for the hysterics, I was in at a few of the parts, for that it gets four.