Book review: Blind Faith by Ben Elton

the cover of the book

When did Ben Elton go from funny social commentator with a penchant for satiric wit to a bitter, bitter old man? Even if you've been in denial for a while, Blind Faith is terribly disappointing.

The story

It's become a post-apocalyptic world - "not with a bang, but a whimper". Global warming and a variety of wars and laws have turned London into dirty, hot, disease ridden pit - and that's the good bit. "feeling" and revealing everything about yourself is the law; having privacy isn't. Trafford and his wife, Chantorria, have a new baby... which has a fifty percent chance of dying young.

Trafford doesn't like to share. He doesn't like exposed skin. He doesn't want to know about the sex life of his neighbours. He hungers for more than feelings - he hungers for knowledge, proof, an internal life. So when he is approached by a work colleague with an illegal proposition, he is intrigued.

Trafford discovers a hidden world underneath the world where everything is revealed. Not only does his life become enriched, but he finds a woman - who is even more secretive than himself. As his knowledge grows, so does his belief that the world, as it has become, is terribly wrong.

Trafford comes up with a plan - a revolutionary plan. He wants to reintroduce evolution, science, and literature to the world, and he thinks he knows just how to do it. But with his secret in danger, his wife becoming more and more unstable, and the very real possibility of betrayal lurking around every corner, it's a race against time...

The style

Ben Elton used to be funny. This man wrote The Young Ones! And Blackadder! Even when he was writing his trademark, issue based, satirical fiction, he still managed to be funny. That, I think, was the beauty of Ben Elton. He managed to take an issue, like environmentalism, and bring it into the reader's consciousness in a funny, eye-opening way. It's what made him so good at issue-based novels. He grabbed the attention and held on, using humour and good characters, and then the reader got engaged with the issues withing the story as well.

Blind Faith doesn't fall into that category.

Basically, Blind Faith raises issues to do with religion, science, T.V., technology, the internet, music videos, sharing (in the Oprah sense of the word), dressing children in g-strings and then complaining about paedophiles, and so forth. The futuristic world he creates contains all of these elements, taken to an extreme. My first problem with this creation is that it was clumsily done. It was a bit over the top, a bit high-school, a bit "the reader is so stupid, I really have to make this shit obvious". For a veteran with eleven novels under his belt, this is unforgivable. And this brings me to my next point: Ben Elton seems to have lost all faith in humanity. It's depressing, and it's as though he thinks people are so stupid, and society is in such a desperate state, that this is where we're all going to end up. And frankly, I don't like to read about how stupid I am, and how shit the world is, and have it be so over the top and depressing that it isn't even funny. I DON'T think people are, as a whole, that stupid. I mean, sure, there are a lot of stupid ones out there, don't get me wrong. But really. Not THAT many.

This was one of the most disappointing books I've read in some time. Probably because, even though he has been getting rant-ier, I expect better. Sorry Ben Elton.

Who is this book for?

Die hard Ben Elton fans, I guess. And of course, people who are just as cranky and jaded as he is with plight of western civilisation.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Try something else! You could look into Elton's earlier works, they're much better. You could read Carl Hiassen, who combines entertainment with serious environmental issues. Or, if you want a light-hearted romp, you could read Tuxes, by Scott Fivelson. It's not so much with the serious issues, but it is satirical AND funny and you don't feel depressed at the end.

Which is important.

In short

Title: Blind Faith
Author: Ben Elton
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 0593058003
Year published: 2007
Pages: 320
Genre(s): Fiction, Satire

An incredibly scary, graphic

An incredibly scary, graphic and thought-provoking book. You can not let this one go easily when you have closed the final cover.
Yes, I have to agree it was predictable, there was never going to be a good ending.
But, you have to commend and admire the imagination of Ben Elton. The man is a literary inspiration.
Books are a joy, the internet is a tool which we use when we wish and no more.
Don't forget, this was a 'story' - not a vision of the future.
Jan Bird.

fiction not fact!...?

i'm sure ben elton was not after laughs when sitting down to reflect on a possible future life of today's society - im sure a story of today's life could b made to seem just as unbelieveable to the folk of the 19th century and have a revelancy to their existence. hes taken a few matters to the nth degree but i think that only emphasises their craziness when even seen in a mild way. Hey it's truer of today if u look carefully and creatively!

i just finished it and couldn't put it down - worth the thinking... and more than 4 out of 10!

A Post apocolyptic World

The post apocolyptic world described herein was not as far removed from our current reallity as it may at first seem.
From our pre-occupation with the latest technology, info-tainment, gossip, religious cults and , to our chronic, egocentric self-absorption, and destructive natures.

Although, "Blind Faith" was not one of Ben Elton's typical laugh fests, it was however, a work of some conciderable substance.
I found this book to be more than a little unnerving, and endlessly thought provoking.

This was an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable read.
A real page turner.

Ben Elton still has it

Hey to the guy who created this review.

This book, yes whilst not containing the normal satirical humor of Elton, is probably one of the most substanacially important novels he has written.

His depiction of this post-apocolyptic society after the melting of the ice caps (global warming ect) doesn't veary far from the possible future of part of our society (though i think it woule be more america not England no offence to america but just putting it as it is) were the freedom of information and pollitical correctness has been taken to the extream that only a daranged religious sensored, sensore-free internet community could take it.

As to the "the reader is so stupid, I really have to make this shit obvious" as you so put it. This is more of a writting technique then an attack on your credability of inteligence. By presenting the novel through this style of blatenly pointing out the fact and intention of the chracters and the points they make Elton is shocking the reader into realisation.

Also when you said "He managed to take an issue, like environmentalism, and bring it into the reader's consciousness in a funny, eye-opening way." is the reason why you found him so good at issue-based novels. I belive that by trading in the conscriptive humour for the obveous serious nature in this book it not only increases the awe factor of his work but also brings the issues into a new light.

Ben Elton thank you very much for this book keep them coming

Great book

I had the same feeling at the beginning: is this really Ben Elton, the sharp funny writer who usually surprises me from the first line? It all seemed a bit déja-vue: a controlled society, no freedom, the power of internet and television and more 'moralizing' stuff.

And yet, halfway this book you realize there's something more in it. I started to feel how close we are to this society, with our use of popular language, everybody on Netlog, Facebook and Youtube, the explicit tv-programs and the overdose of sweet junkfood. When Trafford starts reasoning again for himself and the principles of humanism are explained, it is clear that most of the tv-public and journal-readers today could use some of his insights.

No, not everybody is as stupid, but even the most intellectual and seemingly independent thinking youngsters let themselves sweep away by great music festivals, big pints of beer, the obligation of being 'happy' during these mass-events. Anyway, when I read the last page of 'Blind Faith', I had once again the feeling that I had discovered an excellent book which would keep me busy in my head even after finishing it.

I thought the book was brilliant!

It was the first Ben Elton I read and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was pessimistic, of course it was but it was also worringly plausible. It was not at all "the reader is so stupid, I really have to make this shit obvious", it's part of the satirical slant and I think there are so many ways he has left
open to interpret the book he can't be accused of not crediting the reader with any intelligence.

Sooooo Baddddd

I was given this drivell by a friend who had given me great books is awful....a short story lenghtened into a obvious twist that could be seen coming imediatley.....dont waste your time with phillip k dick for visions of the future...and he was writing 4 decades ago!!!!!

Good - though somewhat eerie

It took me a little bit of time to get into this book, but eventually I really enjoyed it. Yes, it is kind of black and depressing - and probably somewhat over the top. But I find myself looking at current affairs, reality shows and some of the other issues addressed in the book now and feel a certain sense of foreboding. I think it is somewhat unfair to expect every book by Ben Elton to be funny above all else. He obviously feels strongly about these issues and was trying to raise them in a thought provoking way. Perhaps it is necessary to strongly caricature aspects of our society which we slowly grow into and therefore tend to eventually accept as part of our lives, in order to see the sense - or in this case non-sense - behind them.
By the way; does it only strike me as somewhat ironic that we are blogging our opinions about this book??

Yes it is somewhat ironic,

Yes it is somewhat ironic, but I think that the point of the book is to take the more moronic tendencies of modern popular culture NOT human beings as individuals and see where a more totalitarian regime would take them. The media, internet, and communications technology have serious and relevent uses but are also open to misuse and blatant wasting of time. Obviously the negativity has to be exaggerated (but sometimes only slightly) for comic effect. The aspect I felt to be overdone was the naming of children after confectionary - but I am willing to bet that real-life, present day examples could be found to back him up. I went to the gym after finishing reading it and the X factor was on the television and their lines were straight out of Elton's book, or vice versa, there was no exaggeration by a bitter old cynic.


Blind Faith - How to renew the thesis of 1984

I started Blind Faith, wondering how it would differ from 1984.
It does not attempt to restate Orwell's thesis that the absence of a word means that the mental concept attached to that word cannot exist. Orwell's example (in Newspeak) "All mans is free" is nonsensical, for it allows freedom only in the sense that "All mans has two legs".
What Elton does is to create a more visceral, more personal world. Elton is a dramatist, not a moral philosopher. His world, though does look forward from the excesses of today, just as Orwells looked forward from the brutality and repression of the 1940s.
Trafford is a different hero from Winston Smith. Smith principally suffered betrayal at the hands of O'Brien, his alienation as a sane man in a mad world, and the torment of lost beauty. Trafford is continually beset. Every interaction with others is a direct, violent assault on his fragile integrity. He is directly challenged for his sin of privacy in a way that Smith was not.
Trafford has more of a sense of purposiveness than Smith, albeit fostered by two people, Cassius and Sandra Dee. And there is a sense - not only due to Trafford living in a world closer to ours - of Trafford being more of a *person* than (to overstate Orwell's Smith) a vehicle for moral debate.
Blind faith is a hopeful book. In his apotheosis, Trafford knows that the e-mail seed he has sown *will* take root and blossom. Winston had no such hope - "The fight was over, he loved Big Brother"
Me, I give Blind Faith many stars. It can be accused of deriving from 1984. My feeling is that is accepts 1984's thesis, casts itself much more viscerally, and ends with a certainty - more powerful than belief in The Lord and The Love, that liberty will again shine forth.
Ian Batty

Blind faith

This book gave me the horrors - Elton has taken the seeds of what already exists and grown them to an extreme but perfectly possible conclusion.
I was reminded of Brave New World and 1984, but all good stories get rewritten in the spirit of their times, and provide fresh insights and warnings. The humour was just very black.....but a book that needed to be written I think. I see elements and hints of the Blind Faith world all around.

I enjoyed the book and would

I enjoyed the book and would rate it more highly, BUT I felt that it borrowed from Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World so much that it borders on plagiarism. Ben Elton is capable of more originality than this.