Monday, 27 April 2015
Review: Demolition Dad by Phil Earle
Demolition Dad is the story of Jake Biggs, a young boy who loves wrestling, and his dad George, whose day job is knocking down buildings but who secretly pulls on the Lycra at weekends to wrestle as the Demolition Man. Jake is his dad's biggest fan, and has his own hidden plans - he wants the Demolition Man to go from British wrestler to international superstar. Could it be possible?
I grew up watching British wrestling whenever I got the chance - sadly not often enough! - and had a huge amount of admiration for men like Drew McDonald, who sadly passed away a few months ago. McDonald, a talented performer who wrestled on ITV's World of Sport for much of the 1980s, would go on to reinvent himself as the Ultimate Chippendale - a massive man who would claim to be the peak of physical perfection and taunt audiences for being out of shape compared to him, drawing huge amounts of boos. Demolition Dad is packed full of weird and wonderful characters like this but the same heart and love of wrestling that shone through Drew's in-ring performances is also clearly to be found in this hugely enjoyable book.
Earle sends up both the British wrestling scene I grew up loving, and the American sports entertainment which will be at least vaguely familiar to most people, with warmth and affection here, and I think there's an awful lot to tempt you in whether you're a fan of the squared circle or not. In particular, the family relationship between George and Jake is fantastic; I love the way they both help each other, and it's very reminiscent of Roald Dahl's classic Danny: The Champion of the World (probably my favourite Dahl!) There's a plot which packs in numerous surprises, and the tension towards the end is brilliantly done. As well, it's massively funny, and Sara Ogilvie's striking illustrations add a lot to the book, perfectly complementing Phil Earle's writing. I've always been admired Phil Earle and his superb characterisation, but his early YA books were ones that I personally found too dark for me. The Bubble-Wrap Boy, his most recent YA, was definitely far more in my comfort zone, and this is even more so - I'm certainly looking forward to more MG from him!
A massive recommendation as an excellent read.
Jim blogs over at YA Yeah Yeah and can often be found on Twitter.