Friday 13 December 2013

Book Review - 8-Bit Christmas

8-Bit Christmas
Author: Kevin Jakubowski
Genres: Contemporary | Childrens, Young Adult
Publishers: DB Press
Release Date: 1st November 2013
No. Pages: 288
Source: Review Copy - DB Press
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
It's 1980 - something and all nine-year-old Jake Doyle wants for Christmas is a Nintendo Entertainment System. No Jose Conseco rookie card, no GI Joe hovercraft, no Teddy friggin' Ruxpin - just Nintendo. But when a hyperactive Shih Tzu is accidentally crushed to death by a 42in television set and every parent in town blames Nintendo, it's up to Jake to take matters into his own hands. The result is a Christmas quest of Super Mario Bros. proportions, filled with flaming wreaths, speeding minivans, lost retainers, fake Santas, hot teachers, snotty sisters, 'Super Bowl Shuffles' and one very naked Cabbage Patch Kid.

Told from a nostalgic adult perspective, 8-Bit Christmas is a hilarious and heartfelt look back at the kid pop culture of the 1980s.

I think when it comes down to Christmas themed books, you either love them, or you hate them, and for me, it's almost always a love. I can't help it. I love reading about other peoples family festivities, and their collapsing trees, and the presents they receive; it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside and that's exactly how 8-Bit Christmas made me feel. And fear not my fellow 90's friends, just because it's an 80's styled nostalgic trip down memory lane, doesn't mean you won't find things to easily relate to. You'd be surprised how much the 80's and the 90's had in common.

Lets start with the nostalgia, as I fear that may be what puts people off, especially young adults, like myself. As you can in the description, it focuses a lot on an adults perspective on his life as a child, and while it is unknown whether it is in fact a true story that happened to the author, or whether it's entirely fictitious, there is a lot of trips down memory lane in this book, and trust me, I was pretty nervous to pick this book up myself, having just missed out on the 80's by around 5 years, however, I was amazed, and pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the phrases, quotes, sayings and attitudes were the exact same as they were when I was child. I was always being told that 'fresh air was good for you' and big gatherings with family were big while I was a young minion, but don't be fooled, there's more to this book that a sticky and messy reminiscing session. If the constant reminders of my own childhood weren't enough, I would have through this book was written for me. I could easily relate to problems such as Christmas Birthdays, and double presents, talking intently to Father Christmas in grotto's and emotionally demanding specific presents, it was all a great childhood dream, and reading 8-Bit Christmas, I was transported to an age when Christmas was much less stressful, when I didn't know what my presents were, and when putting mince pies out for Santa were in fact eaten by Santa and weren't eaten by my Mum before she went to bed. I was in a void of Christmas memories throughout this book, it was fantastic.

The plot itself didn't feel defined however, and for once, that didn't bother me. I'm usually really looking for a well developed, well written and interesting plot, and this book felt more like a conversation, one sided of course, or a diary; I was looking into this mans childhood, into his memories, and laughing at his mistakes, or his silly ideas, or commending his bravery of escaping a school trip, or completely sympathising with his endurance of a very mature younger sister. Sometimes, I felt like it was wrong to laugh at this boys adventures, and his friendships, and his strops, and other times, it felt so natural, like I was laughing with him. I understand this is starting to sound like this book sucked me, and damn I'll admit, it really did. It was utterly wonderful, and I can definitely say, this book will, at some point, have a nice little spot on my shelves, and I'll read this wonder over and over again.

8-Bit Christmas isn't about a dead dog, or about begging constantly for a game console, it's about growing as a person over the season, about doing things for others. It's about seeing your priorities correctly, and seeing that there's more to life than what you once thought. It's about considering your family, and appreciating the gifts you receive every day of the year, not just at Christmas. It's a lesson, a life lesson. A lesson that's very worth learning.

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