From the author of the international best-seller The Stone Man, shortlisted for Audible UK's Book of the Year Award 2015.
In the late 1990s, a laptop was found in a service station just outside of Manchester. It contained a digital journal entitled 'TO THE FINDER: OPEN NOW TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE!' Now, for the first time, that infamous diary is being published in its entirety.
It's 1998. The Internet age is still in its infancy. Google has just been founded. Eighteen-year-old supermarket shelf-stacker Nigel Carmelite has decided that he's going to become a vigilante.
There are a few problems: how is he going to even find crime to fight on the streets of Derbyshire? How will he create a superhero costume - and an arsenal of crime-fighting weaponry - on a shoestring budget? And will his history of blackouts and crippling social inadequacy affect his chances? This is Nigel's account of his journey; part diary, part deluded self-help manual, tragically comic and slowly descending into what is arguably Luke Smitherd's darkest and most violent novel.
What do you believe in? And more importantly, should you?
©2016 Luke Smitherd (P)2016 Luke Smitherd
Absolutely adored this story. So many laugh out loud moments, it makes you want to share them with someone. At times absolutely hilarious and others so heart wrenching, this was such an engaging and enjoyable story. Can't recommend it highly enough, you won't be disappointed.
This book has some funny moments and some heartaching moments. I like when he's trying to figure out his costume and what he wants to wear. And the masks he draws. I didn't like the part with the girl. But mr smitherd made it all come together like a pro. I'll read more from him.
I received this as a gift.
As usual, Luke's character development is what keeps me reading.
The dangers of living inside one's mind.
This is a different book than we are used to seeing from Luke Smitherd, but do not let that scare you away. There are certainly thrills and chills. And, as he always does, Luke has you feeling for the main character as he carefully develops what makes them tick. Though, this time you are more apt to cringe at the main character's inner machinations that lead to the choices he makes. You won't want to put it down!
Regular readers of Luke Smitherd may find themselves checking the cover of this book to make sure he actually wrote it because it is unlike any of his other works. First, there is nothing paranormal or supernatural about it; second, it is laugh-out-loud funny at some points; and, finally, the main character is a disturbed teenage boy who wants to become the world’s first “real” superhero.
Nigel Carmelite is an eighteen-year-old boy who hasn’t had an easy life. There are allusions to problems in his past, but most of them are barely mentioned (although there is a very sad story about a boy and his bike) and their impacts on Nigel’s life are left to the reader to determine. We learn about his current life: he works in a supermarket; he is a loner, mostly because he doesn’t know how to interact with other people; he has a crush on a girl at work; and he is keeping a diary to record his journey from “normal” guy to superhero so that others can learn from him and follow in his footsteps. He believes this is his destiny.
But Nigel isn’t a “normal” person, whatever “normal” is supposed to mean in his world or ours. He is damaged. The circumstances of his early years took their toll on him and he never received the help he needed. He created his own world where he was the good guy and he was the guy who was always right. He couldn’t exist any other way because “normal” life hurt too much. If Nigel lived in the US, he is the type of person who would shoot up a public place and then turn the gun on himself, and later, people would say he was “quiet” and “always did his job” but was difficult to get to know because he was so ill-at-ease around others.
Some people have commented that their dislike of Nigel hurt their ability to enjoy the book fully. That is unfortunate. If all a person does is read the words on the page, Nigel is a jerk. He writes with disdain about most other people he knows. If you read between the lines, however, you can see he insults others because he thinks they are getting in the way of him fulfilling his destiny.
He also knows the rest of the world sees him as a loser, if they even notice he exists, but he rarely lets himself acknowledge that reality. You can see this in a few diary entries where he talks about how stupid he is (quite vehemently), but he always comes back to blaming other people for his troubles. He HAS to be right or he can’t be the superhero. By putting down everyone else, he is building himself up into the person he believes he really is.
The book is very well-written. Nigel is a person you can empathize with because there is a small part of him in all of us. Yes, it is humorous in many places, but there are also moments that may leave you in tears. The most impressive thing, however, is how incidents in Nigel’s life are shown to repeat themselves (in different contexts), forming patterns that turned him into the person he is. Some of these are obvious, but others are very subtle so the readers are left to discover them and determine for themselves how they impacted Nigel. That is not an easy thing for an author to do, but here, it is done beautifully.
This book covers a very short time period in Nigel’s life, but by the end, we know everything we need to know about him and why he needs to be a superhero—because he does need it. He may come across as a jerk at first, but that is just covering up his insecurities and lack of self-worth. His diary is funny because he is so earnest about the things he is writing, even though they are preposterous. Nigel could never comprehend that we are laughing AT him, not with him. The only way he knows to make his life worth something is to become a superhero, which, ultimately, is the saddest part of the story and leads to unintended, heartbreaking consequences.
If you don’t fully appreciate the brilliance of this book at first (I didn’t), read it again. You will catch things you missed the first time and will, hopefully, fully appreciate the skill that went into crafting it. There are too many Nigel Carmelite’s out there. Most don’t try to become superheroes; most live their lives quietly and alone and we never know they exist. That is the true message we should learn from this book.
There are Nigels all over, but most of us are too caught up in our own daily lives to see them or attempt to help them. Maybe we should try a little bit more. Maybe we’re too busy to see their hands desperately reaching out to us or maybe they’ve given up. Nigel is virtually screaming for help throughout this book. No one hears him or maybe they are too busy laughing at him to notice. So, in the only way he knows, he resorts to helping himself. He adapts to the circumstances of his world—and loses so much in the process.
If I ever want to feel better about myself as a would-be vigilante (aren't we all?), Nigel will remind me how difficult it is... and why I probably shouldn't do that.
The ending... no spoilers... but, the ending. Damn. So powerful.
Aside from the ending, pretty much any time Nigel was interacting with other, normal, people. Smitherd does such a great job of showing us their awkward feelings & Nigel's complete ignorance. Truly hysterical stuff.
Extreme... no. But that's only b/c I've come to know what to expect from Mr. Smitherd. He is creative & wholly entertaining. On this one, he delivered once again.
This guy, Nigel, is such a... well... a loser!... we can't help but love him dearly. He is so obviously not the vigilante he believes himself to be.
And yet, Nigel IS working out. And he IS studying hard. And he IS putting great amounts of energy into every conceivable aspect of actually becoming a real-life vigilante.... from his Name to his Costume to his Vehicle to his Weaponry... even his Origin Story is part of the makeup of this diary. I couldn't help but thinking, even from the early chapters, that maybe... just MAYBE Nigel would pull it off. Maybe he really *would* become a vigilante.
As with all of Smitherd's stories, he entertains with genuine creativity & genuine characters. I *like* Nigel, despite how lame he is. I *see* the frustration of his work acquaintances as they try to understand his peculiarities. I *feel* the buildup of passion and fear and hope and despair as we get closer & closer to that ending.
And GOD that ending. No, I won't spoil it. I'm not that kind of reader. But what I *can* tell you is that it's powerful. Emotional. Memorable.
You will not regret experiencing this story. It's fantastic.
I've read all of LS's books, and (at the risk of sounding like a book blurb) he's one of the most creative, fresh voices in recent fiction....or even distant fiction. I got this book without reading anything but the title so had no expectations what it would be like. I think this is a great way to approach Smitherd's books, since they are so wildly different & different from each other. If you have no preconceived notions, you're guaranteed to be surprised. Or even if you do.
The main character in this book is one of the more problematic characters I've run across in a long time; the guy's basically a socially inept, clueless nutjob with delusions of grandeur, but among laughing (or groaning) at his cluelessness & wincing at his insane ideas, there were times when I felt genuine sympathy for him. He often would then proceed to do something so self-rationalizingly wacko that I'd want to reach into the book & strangle him, but I would never say he's a cardboard character.
I have no serious and few minor gripes with Smitherd's writing; the pace of the book was pretty even, with very few only mildly draggy parts. He is wickedly funny at times. His dialogue is excellent --a very, very rare thing. The only nitpicks are that he seems to use the term "floor" to describe the outdoor substrate sometimes, whether road surface or dirt, which occasionally can be confusing, but maybe that's due to he & I being from different sides of The Pond. He did commit one of my own personal bugbears in this book, which probably won't bother most (normal) folks, but he did actually use that dreadful cliche about pain being almost an old friend. After decades of chronic pain I guarantee that is only said by people who haven't experienced it. Unless they're true, hardcore, long-term masochists, I guess.
Smitherd also does a great job of reading his books (tho it took me a while to stop trying to figure out where he'd messed up & blasted off with extremely hilarious profanity after listening to an 'outtakes reel' on his website.* But the recording was seamless). His pacing & expression is excellent, his voices for characters are recognizable & believable, & his accent is lovely to my ears, as is his voice. He mentions in the afterward of this book that he's got a contract on his next book for pro publishing, which probably means he won't read it; I have very mixed feelings. I'm extremely happy for this terrific emerging writer that he's finally getting attention from pro houses, but I really do like his self-narration.
I continue to look forward to more books by him & really hope he finally gets the major publishing contract he deserves. There are SO many "best-selling" writers out there churning out barely literate, formulaic crap that it's a travesty that someone as interesting & good has had to scramble with self-publishing. Tho I suppose that the publishing houses would have a problem with Smitherd partly because he is so different & almost uncategorizable; they like to slot books & authors into simple, 1- or at most 2-word slots, & he's one of the least slottable writers I've ever run across.
*if you're offended by naughty words, do NOT check this out. If you're not, it's pretty hysterically funny. But then folks who want strictly G-rated language probably don't last long with his books anyway.
Everyone loves a vigilante especially when they are self taught ! Not only is the plot fantastic and Luke captures your attention from the first page, but his voice is the narrator and takes this from a great audiobook to an experience! Highly recommend downloading this and his other works. I promise you won't be disappointed! Captivating, Enthralling, Fast paced, and just downright excellent!
A great performance. Thoroughly believable.
I binged the whole thing.
This book moves from being a comedy to an absolutely devastating finale. Original and engaging, I haven't really heard anything like it before. Highly recommended.
How to be a Vigilante is a terrifyingly hysterical ride! As always Luke Smitherd paints an amazing portrait of modern society using his possibly unconventional view on life and an amazing ability to capture all of it in ridiculously realistic dialogue! I have read all of his books so far and I can't wait for his next one!
The main character, because we've all known someone who was totally like that!!!
I can't imagine anyone else else bringing that character to life. It will be a bittersweet day when Luke Smitherd reaches the level of success that he is no longer allowed to read his own books.
YES! And I did listen to it all in one sitting.
Luke Smitherd will be the next Stephen King!
Well written. Excellent narration (as always, Luke). But after listening for 7 hrs and 10 mins, I felt like Rob from the gym and Dave from aikido.
"Another great audio book!"
As the tittle suggest another great book from my the best author I've discovered this year! If you're a fan of Luke Smitherd's previous book then you're in for something a little different, and if this is you're first time listening to a Smitherd book, then welcome to you're new addiction!
"Another stonker from Like Smitherd"
Another stonker from Like Smitherd. Dark, sad, sinister, tense and violent but also humourous, touching and poignant.
"Its time for a real life superhero"
The complete twist that all Lukes books have and also the use of first person style
As usual with Luke a really strong character driven story. I had already read the book but thought i would make it my first audiobook experience and I was not dispappointed
"Brilliant but not for the faint hearted!"
Yes but not to everyone. It really got under my skin and very unusually for me I lay awake thinking about it one night! Parts of it are quite disturbing! Luke gets you inside Nigel's, the erstwhile hero's head so completely that it's impossible not to empathize with him. The violence is very real! But it's funny too, very in places and insightful!
"Luke Smitherd - but not as we know him"
To be honest, it took me a while to get into this book. I was expecting the trademark Smitherd weirdness to kick in and was rather disappointed when it didn’t. But once I got into it and accepted it for what it is I found it absorbing. Written in the form of a diary it is a young man’s account of his attempts to become, not only a vigilante, but a super hero, complete with costume, equipment belt and appropriate super hero name.
In many ways it is a sad book, for the young man – Nigel Carmelite – is a sad deluded character who twists everything that happens into support for his delusion. That is not meant to be ofputting; it is superbly written and I came to feel greatly about Nigel and cared about what happened to him.
As explained in the afterword, this was Luke’s first novel. Now usually this would put me off, as I have found that first novels by established authors are not usually worth reading (I’m thinking of Lev Grossman’s Warp here), but this proves to be the exception, it’s fully up to Luke’s usual standard just, you know, different.
I received a free copy of this audio book in exchange for an honest review.
It's a diary, so there is really only one character.
This is the first book I've listened to that I had already read & I'm really glad that I did! The narration was fantastic and really bought Nigel to life, showing the emotional range of the diary so well that I found I enjoyed it far more this way.
Clever and darkly humorous treatment of the super hero genre set in the Midlands of England. Well read by the author.
"Very realistic "superhero" story"
Usually I really enjoy the stories that contain supernatural people or events from Luke Smitherd, but this book is quite different. It really feels like it could have happened and is really well thought out. The diary format was interesting and well done as you got Nigel's account but could still understand other peoples thoughts and reactions even though Nigel obviously didn't. There was a lot of reading between the lines to be done about what was actually happening, not just what Nigel thought was going on and I really enjoyed that about the book. It does make you feel a bit sad at the end but is another really good through provoking book.
Another excellent book from an excellent writer. Can't wait to hear the next one.
Luke! Don't let someone else read your books. I love the way you do it!
Can't wait for more!
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