Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book Review: Mister Roberts by Alexei Sayle

Anyone who knows the British comedian and author of this book, Alexei Sayle, will know that he has a reputation for the bizarre and here he provides a short novel with one of the most unusual stories that readers are likely to come across. Set in an expat community in Spain a boy with an irresponsible mother discovers an incredible machine which originates from another planet that gives him the ability to masquerade as a powerful, but mute, adult: Mister Roberts.

This is a short novel with a simple plot but one which is so boldly preposterous that it is instantly fascinating and makes the reader turn the page in a desire to know where this unusual premise can be leading. The story is also punctuated with amusing asides and similes, but gradually it reveals a more serious underlying message about how to behave responsibly when in possession of power.

Mister Roberts is a book in which the main character never says a single line of dialogue to to the fact that he is nothing more than a machine but the story contains a collection of amusingly cliched characters that help drive the story, including a pair of aliens dressed in Victorian period costume.

This is a good example of tale-telling but readers should not expect any level of complexity or in-depth characters but what they should expect is an original and imaginative story, full of wit, charm and some likable characters alongside a couple of unlikely villains; Mister Roberts is just pure fun and fantasy and will have readers completing it in as little as one sitting.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading weird stories that are the fruit of a mind that reaches back to its childhood fantasies. Anyone who is a fan of Alexei Sayle's other books will definitely not be disappointed and those who have enjoyed his television comedy will recognize his style here too. This is an easy read, very charming and strange.

Score: 8.5/10

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