Paperback review: The Carbon Crunch, By Dieter Helm


Jim Thorne's first love is an inflatable dolphin named Dilly. But he's quite fond of pillows, too.

His mother is a poet, his father a computer-game addict, his aunties all famous singers and actors. He falls in (unrequited) love with Kate Reynolds, a girl at school who is rumoured to have a "ridiculously hairy beaver". His best friend is better than him at everything. Slowly, painfully, uncertainly, Jim grows up. Sort of. And as he grows the novel charts the cultural changes of the Nineties and Noughties – in music, football, phones, the internet. The writing sometimes seems wilfully quirky; but I forgave it that failing, because Jim is such a likeable character, unflinchingly recounting all his worst failures and humiliations. I wanted him to lose his virginity almost as much as he does.