This was a great festive read that I discovered a few years back. Get your paws on it if you can!
Today I have a belated Christmas present for all you children of the eighties and contemporary eighties revivalists – the gem of nostalgic goodness that is Kevin Jakubowski’s 8-Bit Christmas. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review – thanks!
8-Bit Christmas is an epic roller coaster of a tale revolving around nine-year-old Jake Doyle and his soul-crushing, arm-twisting, sister-enlisting quest to get the brand new Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas, 1987. Only one kid in Jake’s town has the power that comes with owning an NES (coincidentally, the richest and most spoilt kid in town) and he wields this power by forcing the neighbourhood kids to beg, borrow or steal their way into his house on a Saturday morning in the vain hope of securing a few minutes playing time. After a tragic (and messy) event during one of these Saturday morning sessions, the parents of Jake’s town ban the purchasing of Nintendo systems, and the successful completion of Jake’s quest suddenly seems a lot less likely. Cue Jake’s sister and her comparably crippling desire for a Cabbage Patch Doll, the collected baseball card resources of Batavia’s kid population and a whole lot of wishin’, hopin’ and prayin’ and Jake may just find that Christmas wishes do come true! Or maybe not. You’ll have to read to find out.
* you’ve ever felt the keen, incisor-sharp sense of desperation for some new-fangled consumer product that is woefully beyond your ability to attain
* you’ve ever known the pain of having to kowtow to some jumped up little snot in your class/neighbourhood/(dare I say it) family in order to experience some tiny sliver of the joy that comes from owning the aforementioned new-fangled consumer product
* you were a kid in the 80s or are currently experiencing a sense of faux-stalgia for a time period in which you were not born, but feel you know due to the proliferation of pop culture references currently doing the rounds on the interwebs
*you can’t go past a book that so expertly conjures up the atmosphere of your own childhood, that you feel that you probably actually knew the author as a kid, but have somehow forgotten
I LOVED this book. Jakubowski has somehow managed to reach through a wormhole and pull out the sights, sounds and yearnings of kids in the late eighties. The pop culture references are spot on. The descriptions of the social pecking order and the factors that really influence kid friendships are flawless. It is a fantastic read. If you were a child in this time period, particularly if you were a boy and especially if you know, deep in your heart, the excitement and desire created by Nintendo at this time, I daresay you will thoroughly enjoy this book.
If you are a child (or teen) TODAY, with any kind of interest in toys, gaming and pop culture of yore, I suspect you will also thoroughly enjoy this book. Jakubowski has written this with such kid-knowledge, that even contemporary kids will recognise the importance of Jake’s quest and relate to the difficulties of getting one over on the adults to attain the object of your desire.
But the best bit is the ending. I had already rated it a five-star read in my mind before I got to the ending. The ending pushed me over into the elusive (and some say mythical) territory of the six star review. And I’m not telling you what happens. But you should read it.
Until next time,