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The Basic Eight

Cover of The Basic Eight

Author: Daniel Handler

Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780749005924
Rights: UK & Comm. excl. Canada
Pub. Date: 10th May 2002

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Price: £7.99

Format: Paperback

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Synopsis of book»

In their affluent San Francisco high school, Flannery Culp's group, the Basic Eight, are dismissed as a pretentious clique, but to Flan they are indispensable. She needs Kate, despite her incessant gossiping. She needs Gabriel, even though he has a barely requited crush on her. She needs V____, whose name has been changed to protect her wealthy family. She needs Douglas, procurer of absinthe. She needs Lily. She needs Jennifer Rose Milton, but most of all she needs Natasha - beautiful, brave Natasha, who gives her confidence and strength.

Flannery needs them all because sometimes school can get so stressful, you just want to kill someone ...

What Critics Have Said»

‘A pitch-black comedy… The Basic Eight is both a delicious entertainment and an unsettling statement on the irrationality of adolescence’Time Out, New Yor

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‘Sharply observed and mischievous… Handler’s confident satire is not only cheeky but packed with downright lovable characters whose youthful misadventures keep the novel neatly balanced between absurdity and poignancy’Publishers Weekly

‘A scathing satire…with a dark and completely unexpected twist’New York Post

‘Very funny and very sharp – the biggest contribution to the high school murder genre since the movie Heathers’Guardian

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What You Say»                                                             Add your review »

'I heard about and read The Basic Eight because I attended the same high school as Daniel Handler. I'm not a friend of his. He didn't dissapoint with this book. I enjoyed The Basic Eight. I thought it was an entertaining, witty satire of the high school experience. I do wonder why he veiled names so lightly... Nevertheless, I laughed out loud several times, agreeing with DH's oddly trivial but right-on observations such as the first-day-of-school-cover-your-books phenomenon. (Like another commenter, I missed my bus stop reading this book.) It's also been an interesting conversation piece in light of recent events. I am looking forward very much to Daniel's next book.,Anonymous

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'This book is highly confusing and very twisted. Having not read the Lemony Snicket series I wasn't sure what to expect but it definately wasn't this highly disturbing and unusual experience! I found it so perplexing that I had to take off 2 stars, but the gripping style and weird plot twists merited a good 3. I've read other reviews and found similar ideas, but for a 17 year old this book can be quite upsetting and disturbing so be careful!'Anon

'I'm a long time fan of Lemony Snicket and his children series so naturally I picked up Handler's The Basic Eight. I was expecting to see the same mock overtones that you notice in the darkly funny children's series. While we do get the dark humor his style is extemely different. Unlike most readers who expected to see some rendition of: "A word which here means...", I was delightfully surprised to find a great new writing style. Handler brillaintly captures the teen angst and misguided love that all of us have expeirenced. The book (in case you were wondering) is about Flannery Culp, a young misguided teenager who is in prison for killing a certain Adam State. Flannery is the leader of the infamous, 'Basic Eight,' who took part in Flannery's murder. The book is written in a sort of fragmented diary entry as she recounts the events that led up to and after the brutal murder of Adam State. Written with great wit and humor Handler composes a satire that's a must read.Rob Night

'Not since the days of Evelyn Waugh has there been such a perfect pastiche. For all you fans of Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History' (And I am one of them) read this as an antidote to all her classical allusionos and pretentious ponderings.'a. nonymous

'I'm 17 and have read many books, but no book I have read can match The Basic Eight, by Daniel Handler as the most gripping, intense and moving account of a misunderstood teenager in american society. The narrative structure is clever, the characters expertly drawn, but above all the greatness of this book comes from the narration through the eyes of the witty, sarcastic, unhinged, but above all teenaged Flannery. It just completely appealed to myself as a teenager, though this wont stop older or slightly younger (not too young - you wont get important parts of the book) enjoying it. I had to read it almost all in one sitting as it gripped me and after reading I thought about it so much that I had to pick up some rubbish book to take my mind off The Basic Eight. The end, following the dramatic and emotional events of 'October 31st' ends on a sad and poetic note, the poetic descriptive qualities of which are present through Handler's amazing authorship. It's one of the greatest coming of age books, ranking up there with Catcher In The Rye - but in my view, better. Get this book!'Tom

'The Basic Eight is not a book to be read lightly. Under no circumstances should anyone be tempted into reading this tale by Mr Handler by the presumption that it will bear a resemblance to those lovely children's stories he writes as Mr Snicket. While his famous Unfortunate Events stories are known for their rare darkness in tales aimed at minors, The Basic Eight comes from a place far more fundamentally dark and disturbing. The Basic Eight is one of those rare and delightful books that requires the reader to invest in the text and to give as well as, possibly as much as to take away from it. The plot of the story revolves around high school student Flannery Culp and her closest friends "the Basic Eight". Narrated from Flannery's point of view, readers are shown the hardships of teenage life over a period barely longer than a month. This short space of time is enough for Flannery's entire life to be torn apart; by boyfriends and unrequited love; by betrayals and overly amorous teachers; by inept psychologists and by murder.
The voice that Handler gives Flannery is unique and potentially grating. Intellectual poetry and drama loving, grammatically obsessed narrators do not an easy read make, yet for some reason Flannery comes across as a gripping character, and despite her many flaws she is an entirely fascinating heroine.
The real crux of the story comes in the form of a colossal twist in the last few pages. It is the sort of twist likely to leave some readers feeling cheated, yet it is hard not to marvel at the sheer hugeness of it. A re-read is highly recommended as spotting the many clues pointing to the outcome leads to a much greater appreciation of Handler's skill.
Overall, The Basic Eight is a book that should be read with care and time; by a reader not expecting fluffy entertainment, but instead enjoyment that must be earned through giving the text and it's narrator the attention they deserve. A Series of Unfortunate Events it is not, yet brilliant it most undoubtedly is.'mebsy websy

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