Rarely do I buy books because they are listed as the number one book in the Tesco book chart thing, but as I know who Mark Watson is, and I had no idea he also wrote novels as well as starring in the occasional Magners advert and telling jokes, I thought I’d take a chance.
Eleven is a book based on the idea of six degrees of separation. In the case, as the title might suggest, it is eleven degrees of separation instead. Very clever Mark.
There aren’t many negative points to make about the book. The characters are really well constructed and fit in well with their surroundings. There always seems to be a reason for every scene and the individual set pieces link together well.
There were a few stand out moments and the first is Mark Watson’s lack of fear when dealing with extreme subjects. The main character, Xavier makes the mistake of dropping his best friend’s baby, ironically one which the couple struggled to conceive. It’s a moment of complete seriousness doused in humour that literally causes the jaw to remain firmly open for about ten pages.
I also get the feeling that Mark is one of these people (let’s call them perfectionists) that picked up on every single misspelling or out of place punctuation because the entirety of Eleven’s 388 pages are extremely polished. It makes a book much more enjoyable to be able to read it from A to B without being removed from the story by some adolescent sentence structure. While some of my other reviews highlight some of the smallest mistakes, and may seem petty, it’s for good reason. If Mark can write a story of over 350 pages without making a mistake, why can’t every other published author?
Going back to Watson’s ability to develop characters, he has written a character I find most intriguing; Xavier’s love interest Pippa. She is a strange mixture of driven, passionate and crazy and while being a bit of fruit loop you can understand exactly why Xavier falls for her. And you also want to bash him over the head for being such an idiot towards her at times.
Eleven’s characters are what you make of them. Whereas some authors go mental explaining everything about their characters in order that you completely understand where they are coming from and the process and hardwork they put into developing such complex and intriguing psyches, Mark Watson simply states, ‘she is a cleaner,’ and lets the dialogue and context do the rest.
It is also the first ending of a contained story that has been satisfying, which is annoying because if it had been shit I could have doubled the length of the review ranting about how no good can ever come from reading an entire book.
I would recommend Eleven. That’s all there is to say really.
Eleven by Mark Watson was published by Simon and Schuster UK Limited. RRP £7.99 (Paperback)