Good morning to you, you super reader, you! It is Mad Martha with you today, (AKA the Poetical Affliction!) with a lantern review of a book for the grown-ups. Today’s offering is The Indifference League by Richard Scarsbrook.
The Indifference League focuses on a group of high school friends (although the term could be applied loosely) who have chosen to gather together in their collective 30th year to relive some memories and (maybe) rekindle some old flames. But this is no ordinary group of friends, oh no….this is The Indifference League! You see, on finishing school, this group of friends decided to form a pact which involved the adoption of a range of made up superhero names, and a commitment to use these names exclusively whenever they gather together. The name of the group may indicate to you that the plan, such as it was, did not extend to the friends actually doing anything else, above and beyond calling each other by these silly names when they get together. So after being privy to the initial formation of the group, the reader is then akin to a fly on the wall as the present-day meeting of the Indifference League (and their associated spouses and girlfriends) descends into an interesting blend of reminiscence and competition to see who’s life has turned out the least worst. Will Mr Nice Guy finally make the move from boy-friend to boyfriend? Can the Statistician dampen the fuse on the Time Bomb before she blows? And will the Hippie Avenger ever win an argument against SuperKen and SuperBarbie? Stay tuned to find out – same Indifferent Time, Same Indifferent Channel!
time at all
we all got old.
This was a fun, light read. In fact, were it not for the fact that I particularly dislike the beach (sand in the sock dreadlocks is very difficult to remove), then I would class it as a perfect beach read for those who aren’t into fluffy romance, popular psuedo-erotica or chick-lit about the sassy divorcee starting over in a small coastal town. The story is essentially about a group of people in the late twenty-early thirty sort of age bracket, who are just beginning to realise that their first flush of youth may be rapidly dulling into a faded, scratchy magenta. All the expected existential themes are present and accounted for – the nagging discontent about marriage/job/direction in life (or lack of it), the dilemma of how to reinvent oneself while surrounded by old acquaintances, the disturbing realisation about not having moved up the social ladder since high school – and these are deftly depicted through the various superhero identities as they prepare and attend the gathering.
The story is told by focusing on one or two characters per chapter, so the pacing varies nicely and gives the reader a chance to really get to know each characters’ situation and how they fit into the overall picture. I found the labelling of each character with a psuedo-superhero identity super-helpful while reading because it meant that I didn’t have to keep track of names, as the groups stretches to about nine at one point. Also, the superhero names immediately encapsulated the characters’ personalities, meaning that there didn’t need to be a lot of individual character description and development which would have dragged the plot back. The book also contains little bytes of information in the form of collector cards at the beginning of each chapter, which I felt was a clever way of imparting information about the characters and their past interactions, and a quirky, appealing additionto the book.
While I wouldn’t say that this was a groundbreaking or outstanding read, it was peppered with funny situations and dialogue exchanges and the premise of giving the characters superhero identities was a fun, engaging twist on an otherwise fairly standard “hey we’ve all grown up” plot. I will say however, that the ending for one of the characters (Mr Nice Guy, incidentally) was quite poignant and unexpected and ratcheted my good feelings toward the book up a notch.
Overall, I’d recommend this one to readers who want to experience the nostalgia of hanging out with a group of old (if not necessarily good) friends, or alternately, those who want a bit of inspiration for superhero names that they could secretly apply to certain “old friends” on the sly.
The Indifference League is released on September 1st.
Hi ho, Mad Martha, AWAY!!
*I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review*