I’m still being pretty rubbish when it comes to reading but I have at least finished something this week. It took me late into last night to do it so I’ve been a zombie at work. A massive shame considering that I’ve had to sit and listen to a man talk about Google Analytics all day. It was a useful webinar for my course but, when my eyes were having difficulty staying open, I probably didn’t take in as much as I should. Still, I got through it and had a play with some metrics. What more could I ask for? Okay, sleep but who needs sleep when there are books to read. Even if those books are supposed to be for children. I’ve always been curious about what David Walliams would be like a writer. I was the right age to love Little Britain when that came out even if it now seems a bit dodgy in place. So, I have a bit of trouble fitting that side of him with his authorial side. Still, he has the silliness necessary for a winning children’s writer I guess. But calling him the natural successor to Roald Dahl seems like a bold claim. Could it possibly be true?
Bad Dad is an interesting children’s story that embraces silliness whilst still engaging on an emotional level. Frank absolutely adores his father. When it comes to heroes, a boy couldn’t ask for a better one. His dad is a top racing driver who demanded the respect of the whole town. Until an accident causes him to lose a leg and his future on the racetrack. Unable to find work, Dad ends up getting involved with some bad men. When he is forced to act as a getaway driver for a bank robbery, Frank loses his father to prison. With the help of his Aunt Flip, the boy has to come up with a way to prove his father’s innocence. A plan that involves breaking him out of prison.
Bad Dad started off really well in my opinion. It was charming and has the right kind of humour for its audience. It’s silly and I kind of get the Roald Dahl comparison. There’s a sort of melodic quality to David Walliams’ writing. It flows nicely. And the cast of characters on show would definitely fit in with the kind of grotesque characters that Dahl was so fond of creating. These characters are utter caricatures. People with certain characteristics blown way out of proportion. Walliams has created a weird world but one that offers a fairly wonderful backdrop to the story.
I just think this book speeds a long way too fast. I know it’s meant to be for a younger audience but that doesn’t mean we can’t spend a bit more time developing things. The book favours car chases and robberies over the story, which is fine but I guess I wanted more. Although, I’m not really the target reader. I’d like to say that I would have enjoyed it when I was that age but who knows. I get what Walliams was trying to do but I feel like there are better stories out there. It’s also not as funny as I would have expected. Yes, there are moments of silliness and some jokes thrown in. I just think it was a bit more serious than I would have thought.
But there are plenty of good intentions here. I applaud the introduction of an LGBTQ element but, again, this feels kind of gimmicky. Yes, it was presented as perfectly normal and nothing to make a fuss about. But it also felt rushed and kind of half-baked. I also think that the main messages of the book are great. The idea of not needing money or material possessions to be happy is wonderful. The central relationship between the father and son is heartwarming and sweet. It’s a tale that most children will love and many parents would enjoy reading to/with them. So, maybe my 3.5* rating is a bit harsh. But I’m 31 and it wasn’t quite for me.
Who is Murdocal? A casual critic who is a little bit too obsessed with pop culture. A young woman who swears and rants much more than she knows she should whilst trying to make her way in an adult world she isn't prepared for. A not as recent as she'd like literature graduate who, between job applications and subsequent rejections, has turned to the internet to fight the boredom and review the shit out of everything.
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm the faller. Every family has someone who falls, who doesn't make the grade, who stumbles, who life trips up. Maybe I'm our faller."