By Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Published by Chicken House
ISBN 978 1 910655 88 7
The first week of the first year at university is called “Freshers’ Week”, and it’s a time new uni students look forward to. Freshers’ Week is always packed with parties, new faces, new places, new experiences and new activities.
University students in America and Britain rarely go to their local university, so this involves living away from home – usually in a hall of residence. This means freedom with a capital F, and being away from home and family for the first time can mean some students go a bit wild.
The students featured in Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison’s honest, frank and funny Freshers take their new-found freedom in both hands and give it a massive shake. Ellen and Ivison don’t airbrush the chaos of Fresher’s Week at a university in the north of England. And the result is a romcom with bite.
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Luke and Phoebe went to the same secondary school, and now find themselves in the middle of Freshers’ Week at the same university. They have been suddenly thrown headlong into a world of new relationships, new temptations, weird student societies, full-on social media and personal disasters. It’s all a bit of a mess really.
Freshers is written as a dual narrative switching between Phoebe and Luke. This is helps to moves the story along and keep both male and female readers interested. Perhaps Ellen wrote Luke and Ivison wrote Phoebe? Eitherway, the dual-authorship and dual-narration certainly adds freshness to Freshers.
Plot takes a back-seat to character in this lively university tale. Phoebe has had a massive crush on Luke at secondary school and she hopes that things will fall into place now that they’re at the same university. But Luke is already taken and he’s determined to keep his long-distance relationship going. The will-they-won’t-they opening soon becomes an if-they-do-will-they-last scenario, helped and hindered by a colourful cast of supporting characters that at times threatens to become more interesting than the two lead players.
Ellis and Ivison are very good at writing funny and authentic dialogue, which does contain a smattering of bad language, and they know exactly when to time their jokes. But for a novel like this they didn’t spend much time on deep character development.
Freshers is very much an entertaining romp, in which two young writers nail the chaos, confusion and hope of university Freshers’ Week. Warning: the novel does contain mature themes and some character-appropriate language which some readers might find offensive.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.