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Thursday, 15 August 2013
Lad Lit Book Reviews: The Stag and Hen Weekend by Mike Gayle
The story is split into two – the stag weekend with Phil and his pals, and then his fiancé Helen and her friends. As a reader, you are encouraged to start with whatever story you wished. I opted for the stag weekend. At first I struggled with the six main characters. Apart from Phil and his best man Simon, it was hard to tell who was who, but eventually I got there. But just when I thought the boys were about to get up to some mischief, Phil throws a massive strop and basically spends the entire time away from the lads!
Granted, he ends up spending time with what sounds like a pretty hot ex-pop star called Sanne, but still! This is his stag do! Apart from the boys all wearing Reservoir Dogs outfits (which was a nice touch) and a bit of a scuffle with some lads from Essex, Phil spends his whole time worrying about one of Helen’s exes who has reared his little celebrity head (her ex is a famous DJ). Throw in Phil’s stoner dad who makes a surprise appearance and Phil’s misery is pretty much complete.
The thing is, I actually liked Phil – he seemed like a good guy, but the fact he was in Amsterdam and the most exciting thing he did was go to the Van Gogh museum was a bit bland for my liking. Unfortunately this Phil was nothing like the Phil from The Hangover, and even worse there was not an Alan or Stu in sight, let alone a Doug!
Anyway, the ending of the stag do set up an intriguing cliffhanger so I was keen to find out what was going to happen and read on. The hen weekend was pretty much what I expected. Even though I’d been hoping for some pretty low-level drunken shenanigans with ‘L’ plates, fairy wings, and Playboy bunny outfits, what I got was nice dinners and spas.
This story followed a similar pattern to Phil’s, where Helen has her head turned by Aiden her celebrity ex, who has found out that Helen was throwing her hen weekend at this exclusive hotel and has basically turned up to try and win her back. Just as Phil has his dad, Helen has to contend with Phil’s sister Caitlin who she has never got on with.
And finally...! The ending is weird, or should I say the complete lack of ending. Others have called it open-ended, but I just felt like I’d been rear-ended. Even after everything, I was still flicking through the pages because I thought I might have missed something and I genuinely wanted to know what happened to Phil and Helen.
Overall the book was well-written and the concept is really clever, it just wasn't to my taste like some of Mike Gayle’s other books. I suppose at the end of the day this was more chick-lit than lad-lit and that’s why it didn’t float my boat. Perhaps the other problem was that I read this book immediately after reading Danny Wallace’s Charlotte Street which I really enjoyed, and hit the nail on the head of what I feel lad lit should be. After everything I’ve said, this book probably doesn’t deserve anything lower than 3 stars, but it’s one I’d probably more recommend to my missus than my mates.