Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Reviews Revisited Nihilist 5.0 by G.P.Grewal


I bought my Kindle at the start of 2012 and Nihilist 5.0 by G.P. Grewal was one of the first books I downloaded as a freebie. 

I'm re-publishing my review in case you missed it first time round.

According to the dictionary a nihilist is a person who believes human existence has no objective meaning, purpose or intrinsic value and this certainly applies to the protagonist of Nihilist 5.0 - Frank.

Frank is a miserable 34-year-old slave to his tedious day-job in Los Angeles and I presume that the 5.0 in the title refers to working five days a week. Frank's evenings and weekends are usually spent alone in his apartment except when he enters a make-believe world of heroic fantasy to which he escapes with his geeky friends while playing "Dungeons and Dragons".

What Frank yearns for is romance and a chance encounter in the real world encourages him to think he might have met someone. Is there hope for Frank? Well, you will have to read the novel for yourself to find that out.

The writing is bleak, depressed, at times depressing, yet giving a powerful insight into Frank's lonely and unhappy existence. It is definitely not a "feel-good" book and at times you get too close to some of Frank's more unappealing habits. I am still not sure about the ending. It was rather left to the reader to decide and I don't think it was a very happy one.

My only problem with the book was the "Dungeons and Dragons" stuff but I guess that any reader who enjoys that sort of thing will be ok with this aspect. As far as the "Dungeons and Dragons" writing is concerned it gets really interesting stylistically. The accounts of the fantasies are dull and pedestrian in the early part of the book but by the end they are interesting and almost poetic. As Frank's life gets worse and worse, the fantasy gets better and better. I don't know anything about "Dungeons and Dragons" and can't get my head round a group of adults meeting together to play like this but in Nihilist 5.0 it provides a vivid counterpoint to the awfulness of Frank's daily life.

Overall Nihilist 5.0 is a well written and well-presented ebook which I enjoyed reading so much that a couple of months later I downloaded Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry by the same author.

Although similar in tone and content to Nihilist 5.0 I think Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry is an even better book. The story is more controlled, the characterisation more rounded and the writing style more focussed and precise. The novel is once again set in L.A and the protagonist is a "20-something nerd named Leonard" who has an interest in making his fantasy life a reality.

However unlike Nihilist 5.0, this fantasy life doesn't overwhelm the novel and it is written about in a lively and often very funny style. The novel explores the dark and depressing side of life but Leonard is an endearing character despite his excessive need to indulge his sexual fantasies as he yearns for romance and true love.

Subsidiary characters are well developed and although they are in the novel for a serious purpose, at times they are hilarious. Some of the name-calling may cause offense but what appears at times to challenge political correctness is, I think, being used to make points about society at large.

The author is cynical about contemporary life and its effect on the mass of the population but this novel is less bleak than Nihilist 5.0 and might even be pointing towards a happier ending than that experienced by Frank. Overall, Machine Wash Warm, Tumble Dry is well written, entertaining, provocative and relevant and I recommend it highly.

G.P. Grewal is also the author of a fantastic post-apocalyptic trilogy which I've reviewed more recently. Follow this link to read the most recent of those reviews. 

You can sample and download all G.P. Grewal's books on these pages:




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