Review: Waiting for Gonzo – Dave Cousins

Waiting for GonzoSynopsis from Goodreads
Meet Oz . . . he’s got a talent for trouble but his heart’s always in the right place (well, nearly always).

Uprooted from his friends and former life, Oz finds himself stranded in the sleepy village of Slowleigh. When a joke backfires on the first day at his new school, Oz attracts the attention of Isobel Skinner, the school psycho – but that’s just the beginning.

After causing an accident that puts his mum in hospital, Oz isn’t exactly popular at home either. His older sister’s no help, but then she’s got a problem of her own . . . one that’s growing bigger by the day.

Oz knows he’s got to put things right, but life isn’t that simple, especially when the only people still talking to you are a hobbit-obsessed kid and a voice in your own head!

The more I think about it, the more I realise that Dave Cousins is one of my favourite UK authors. I know we have our big names and I love them as much as the rest of people, but I always like finding the ones that aren’t the ones that you always read about.

Not that Mr Cousins is an unknown. I mean, if you want to find great YA then it’s there for the taking and both Waiting for Gonzo and the fantastic 15 Days Without a Head have been reviewed and talked about a lot over here. However I always get the feeling that when people think of YA books, the UK gets forgotten about.

Which, as a British YA writer and an avid reader and general cheerleader of British YA, reeeally annoys me. Because I know, and I’m sure my fellow British bloggers and people who read British YA, that there are some books that can play with the big guys and, you know what? They can definitely hold their own.

I adored 15 Days Without a Head but I think I loved Waiting for Gonzo more. There was just something about the vibrancy of the writing, the extremely clever story and the brilliant characters that you root for, even when they do stupid things.

Similarly to FDWaH, I didn’t really know what this book was about. When you look at the covers, with their bright and eye-catching colours, it would be easy to write them off as juvenile and it’s  tempting to judge them as flippant and shallow. BUT DON’T. Personally, I love these because they make a refreshing change from the sad looking girls in nighties looking sad and blargh. And I adore that they’re relevant to the story.

The thing I loved about Waiting for Gonzo is the way is that Cousins isn’t afraid to delve into the darker side of things while maintaining the comedy that I associate him with. The story perfectly matches the poignant moments with the laugh-out-loud scenes to ensure that the book doesn’t get tangled up in the angst that some people think should come hand in hand with a contemporary YA book. Just because life is occasionally crap doesn’t mean you can’t find the funny parts of it and, sometimes, if you don’t laugh then the only thing you can do is cry. And I know what I’d rather do. Yes, sometimes it’s a little bit silly but sometimes there’s no way you can take things seriously or else there’s no point. Seeing the funny side of certain parts of life is so vital and it’s refreshing to find an author who can see this.

I know this book doesn’t seem to be the type of book that I’d be scared about spoilers but well, I kind of am. I would’ve been so annoyed if I had known about anything in this story because it’s so clever. Everything from the title, to the cover, to the seemingly insignificant details of story that you forget about until nearer the end: they all hint to what the story is about.

But of course I’ll say a few things. It is me, after all.

As in FDWaH (I know, I know I keep mentioning this book but hopefully you’ll just relent and pick it up and read it!), the relationships between the characters are one of the things that lifts Waiting For Gonzo above other UKYA. I love how he writes family- so funny but so real, with all the little quirks that every family has, all the snipes and the heavy sighs, mixed in with the heart-warming moments and the ones that make you grin like a loon.

Basically, this book was brilliant and is the perfect antidote to the reading slumps that I know a lot of people are going through at the moment. It’s fresh, it’s different and will be having you laughing all over yourself.

So read it and say hi to Oz for me.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Waiting for Gonzo – Dave Cousins

  1. I agree that UK YA often gets overlooked, but when I think about it those books are among some of my favourites of all time. One series I love pushing on to people (which I got into thanks to your review) is When I Was Joe. LOVE IT! But there are so many other too! So many people say there’s something special about Aussie authors, but there’s definitely something amazing about UK authors – they tackle those gritty subjects so, so well.

    Anyway, I will definitely be reading this soonish because I loved 15 Days… There was definitely something special about the way he made me laugh so much when I also felt desperately sad for the entire situation.

    Don’t stop cheerleading UK YA! I find so many fab books through your reviews :)

  2. Hi Jo, I just wanted to say thanks for such a fantastic review. I liked it so much I’ve printed it out and stuck it on my wall! You talk about all the things I was hoping to achieve when I was wrestling Oz’s story onto the page, so it’s great to hear it came across in the finished book. All the best for continued success with Wear The Old Coat – Thanks and best wishes, Dave, Oz and the gang!

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