David Walliams is one of the most successful British writers of all time. He has sold more than 37 million copies worldwide and has made millions from his work. So, there must be something of worth there, right? After reading Slime I have to wonder just what it is that so many people see in his books. To compare his writing to Roald Dahl is ridiculous. This book was nothing more than a puerile and repetitive book that doesn’t really have much of a plot. It just seemed like a desperate attempt to cash in on the slime trend that has been dominant for a few years now.
Now, I know that I’m a hell of a lot older than the target reader for this book but I couldn’t say that it is the kind of thing I’d want to read to children. It’s not that I mind childish toilet humour in books but I’d like to think that there were multiple layers to them as well. The problem is, Walliams seems to feel as though he has found a winning formula. It’s almost as if he throws in a bit of alliteration, makes up some new words, creates some awful stereotypes, and make lots of fart and poo jokes. I guess it’s a formula that is obviously working but it does make me a bit sad.
What I will say for Walliams is that he does write stories that highlight important and often unseen members of society. Slime is the story of Ned, a young boy in a wheelchair. Ned lives on the Island of Mulch but he lives a miserable life. He is terrorised by his sister, bullied by his piano teacher, swindled by the local toy shop and ice cream van, and can’t play in the island’s park. Mulch is owned by his greedy Aunt Greta but she hates children. So much so that she allows the awful adults of the island to treat them however they want. When Ned accidentally creates Slime, a shapeshifting creature, he decides it’s the perfect time to exact his revenge.
Walliams is so often compared to Roald Dahl and this book does have some major Matilda vibes. The only problem is, the actual story is so simplistic and is based solely on the same jokes being repeated over and over. It gets really tedious. For one thing, the way he adds the word “slime” to every word and uses the same joke about a Walliamsictionary does get old incredibly quickly. Maybe a child wouldn’t notice but I still think even they would tire of it. Then there’s the fact that the narrative is just the same idea repeated 6 times. Something that would have been found in the story hadn’t moved so quickly but it’s like a blink and you’ll miss it kind of tale.
I think Walliams should be congratulated for finding such success and for clearly having an understanding of what children want. I think anyone who gets children reading should be praised to some extent. However, if all of his books are as formulaic and repetitive as this one, there should be some question about his skill level. Slime just felt like lazy writing that was too reliant on its disgusting humour and silly words instead of plot and characters. I’m not sure that I would have stuck with Slime as a kid or, at least, remembered it after I’d finished reading it.