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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not great -- but worthwhile
I thoroughly enjoyed How to Be Good. Another great read from Nick Hornby, I thought, full of admiration for such a wonderful talent. Then I looked at the reviews on Amazon.com. I couldn't believe how mixed they were.
Then a pattern emerged. The ones that hated it usually started out with how much they loved his earlier work. Then they would criticize the...
Published on May 8, 2002 by georgepartington

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ehhhh... I was very disappointed...
I have never read a Nick Hornby before and received this one as a birthday gift. Started out with a lot of promise and then just COMPLETELY lost steam. He didn't follow through on any of the issues he raised, they all just sort of faded away.
Also- I felt like I was reading a screenplay instead of a book, that Hornby was so obviously angling to create the film that...
Published on October 8, 2001 by never can read enough


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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not great -- but worthwhile, May 8, 2002
This review is from: How to Be Good (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed How to Be Good. Another great read from Nick Hornby, I thought, full of admiration for such a wonderful talent. Then I looked at the reviews on Amazon.com. I couldn't believe how mixed they were.
Then a pattern emerged. The ones that hated it usually started out with how much they loved his earlier work. Then they would criticize the two-dimensional characters and the unbelievable plot. Finally, for the more pretentious, there's an invitation to read "real" literature, like Dostoyevsky.
To sum up, how dare Hornby write a book about something other than "How to Grow Up"? And how dare he introduce characters that aren't "realistic"? (these people would criticize ET because it was unrealistic).
In answer to all those one- and two-star reviews on this page: I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that Nick Hornby wrote a breezy novel about contemporary adults and their everyday problems - you know, little things like trying to find satisfaction as we get older and our lives have settled into well-worn grooves - and not about the aging, but still immature, male.
And instead of a really cool protagonist, we get a weary and confused narrator. So unrealistic to be so flawed. And who can believe in a trippy faith healer and a suddenly transformed house husband? Yet all of the characters spoke and acted in ways that seemed utterly real - in the context of the novel.
I will admit that the novel seemed more like a first draft than a fully realized work, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. The ending felt rushed, while also containing some lovely writing about the importance of reading, as well as a moving final image (perhaps a hint of the greatness Hornby may yet achieve). But that's Hornby - even his lesser efforts contain gold. Last I checked, Van Gogh's sketches were pretty highly regarded. Not that comparing Hornby to a past master is fair. But what a pleasure to read he is. And how artfully he examines the everyday issues so many of us are concerned with.
Nick Hornby has much to say. He's still young. He hasn't produced his definitive work yet. I, for one, am looking forward to Hornby's future efforts.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ehhhh... I was very disappointed..., October 8, 2001
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
I have never read a Nick Hornby before and received this one as a birthday gift. Started out with a lot of promise and then just COMPLETELY lost steam. He didn't follow through on any of the issues he raised, they all just sort of faded away.
Also- I felt like I was reading a screenplay instead of a book, that Hornby was so obviously angling to create the film that will presumably be created from this, rather than a book. It was as gimmicky as "Liar, Liar" or "What Women Want" in its plot-what happens when the crankiest guy in the world becomes a 21st century hippie? Unfortunately, nothing happens, really. I was very disappointed in this one- it was a chore to finish.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who are you and what did you do with Nick Hornby, April 4, 2002
By 
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
I adored High Fidelity and About a Boy. Hornby is a genius at drawing characters who are lovable despite their flaws--because, let's face it, most of us are flawed and hope to be loved anyway. Yet with Katie Carr, Hornby has managed to paint a character completely devoid of feeling and totally self-absorbed. She hates her husband, yet won't leave him and continues to belittle him every chance she gets. Does she stay with him for the sake of the children? I wonder, since she seems to dislike her children as well. While funny in parts (parts that are few and far between), How to Be Good left me depressed and wishing for the old Nick Hornby, author of books that are seriously funny, hopeful, and believable.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing that Hornby flair, July 12, 2003
By 
stephanie-ann (Huntsville, AL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
Having been a Hornby fan for quite sometime, I snapped this up when it first came out and was eager to tear into it! The story is, conceptually, very intriguing, and starts off in true Hornby fashion, a delightful read. However, as the plot winds on, the story and the concept fall flat. I had to force myself through to the end, and was left very disappointed.
Of course, I will most certainly read whatever he puts out next. Besides, everyone deserves a good flop now and then. Kudos for the effort, and high hopes that what is to follow far surpasses this one!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Big Disappointment, August 8, 2001
By 
Matthew White (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
This book is good for the odd chuckle, but you have to wade through too much boring dialogue from unbelievably self-absorbed characters to find the little gems hidden here and there. Hornby is a master of weaving pop culture with a plot and coming up with a relevant statement about life, but in this book his formula just falls apart. First, the characters in this book are boring, and not only that, they whine incessantly. This book may be thought provoking, but only thought it provoked in my mind is which character I would strangle first if given the chance. Secondly, the pop culture references that Hornby has used with great success in his previous works just fall flat in this book; everytime you read one here it is like a red flag reminding you of the nonexistent plot and the annoying characters. Sadly, however, these references are what is most real about this book as most of the characters seem to be caricatures of real human beings. Considering the time it took Hornby to give us a new work (over 3 years), I was expecting much more.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Nick's Best, May 14, 2002
By 
Frederick M. Segrest (Huntsville, AL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
This one is better than the average novel, but pales in comparison to Nick Hornby's other fare. I can't really imagine this one being made into a movie, although it likely will be. Starts out funny, but becomes somewhat preachy and misses its mark. The characters aren't quite as believeable as Hornby's other ones, likely because he is trying to write from a woman's viewpoint and is out of his element. Read this one after you have loved all of Hornby's other novels and be mildly entertained but somewhat disappointed.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars what a let down..., November 7, 2001
By 
"a-squared2" (Toronto, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
sigh...after reading Nick Hornby's High Fidelity and About A Boy my expectations were that he incorporate the same brilliant wit diplayed into How to Be Good. I really gave the book a chance, hoping that with each new chapter I would become totally engrossed. It didn't happen. What did happen was a far-fetched 360 degree character twist and an unbelievable story. I stuck with it and read the WHOLE book, shaking my head and wondering why I wasted my time.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What Happened?, December 24, 2001
By 
sally levy albert (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
I loved High Fidelity and About A Boy, plus enjoyed Fever Pitch, so I was very excited to find this new book by Nick Hornby. What a terrible, horrible, boring, unrealistic book. Why does someone who writes so well from a male perspective, try to write from a female perspective and do this with absolutely no insight into how women think? The character development was poor, I still don't know how old their children were, or why these people were married for so long before they had kids or how they supported themselves so royally when there is Universal Health Care in Britain...Trust me, people do not have personality transfusions and then continue to be just as selfish by giving away his children's posessions and inviting smelly homeless men into their home, the husband didn't change one iota, he was exactly the same, only under the guise of being a liberal. Is this a story people want to read? I think not. I am very disappointed in an author who I have found to be funny and failsafe in the past. This book was stupid and pathetic.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Major letdown, April 16, 2002
This review is from: How To Be Good (Hardcover)
This is not the kind of novel I have come to expect from Nick Hornby. The premise was interesting and as always it is an easy and enjoyable read, but there was nothing special about this book. There is no sign of the Hornby brilliance that one can see in High Fidelity or even his short from Speaking with the Angel (Nipple Jesus). Of course the book has its moments when Hornby hits a point right on the button, but it is not sustained through out most of the novel. I felt completely unsatisfied with the ending of the book, which was completely anti-climactic. Hopefully this is not a trend that will be continued in Hornby's books. I think I need to read High Fidelity again just so I can remember How Good Hornby can be.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge Hornby by this book alone, October 5, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: How to Be Good (Paperback)
I'd hate to think that this could be someone's first time reading a book by Nick Hornby because I doubt they would give his other much better books a chance. For about 3/4 of the book I just felt annoyed at all of the characters. Do yourself a favor and check out Fever Pitch or High Fidelity instead.
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How to Be Good
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby (Paperback - April 30, 2002)
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