Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The First Third by Will Kostakis

Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you're embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you've made.

That's how Billy's grandmother explains it, anyway. She's given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it's his job to glue their family back together.

No pressure or anything.

Fixing his family's not going to be easy and Billy's not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?

It's a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.

Melina Marchetta blurbs Will Kostakis' sophomore novel: 'The relationships in this novel are gems. Funny dialogue, wonderful characters, a story told with so much heart.'
I love this blurb as it nails the essence of this book. I came away from it thinking 'what an incredibly heartfelt book.' Here's what Kostakis says on his site about The First Third:
The First Third is out now. It started out as a kernel of an idea: what if my grandmother gave me her bucket list to complete? And from that, out grew this novel about what it means to be a grandson, a son and yourself.

It’s a more personal novel than I expected to write… It’s not about me, but there’s a lot of me in there.

And it’s definitely a lot of fun. (from Will Kostakis' site)
I love the premise of this book. Having said that, it got off to a really slow start. I felt a smidgen lost in the first 20% -- if it wasn't for the grin-worthy humour and enjoying meeting the characters I'm not sure I would have been hooked enough to keep going. But I am glad I did. I love how all the threads and characters started coming together and the last 20% was just deliciously addictive and smiley and completely worthwhile. Some of the plot threads were predictable (in an appealing way - I wanted to see them play out like that) but others left me wondering where they would go and there were a few surprises. 
As Kostakis' says in the blurb above, it feels like a personal novel. In between the funny narration and Greek comedy/drama/tragedy, a lot of the insights and relationships felt like the truth. Bill was so earnest and sensitive and hopeful and you can feel him just wanting things to work out while bumbling around and often making more of a mess of things. Underneath his bravado and humour was a really relateable teenage guy and I know Bill will resound with many Aussie teens. 
The First Third was a breezy and fun read - it was easy to keep the pages turning. The humour in it highlighted the heart. Also, it was such boy humour - I think the humour Bill expressed towards his family (often the butt of his inner jokes) came from a place of love and teenage awkwardness/embarrassment and was not at all intended to put people down or to be taken too seriously. 
The awesome Greek family vibe was one of my favourite aspects of the book. It definitely made me feel like I was transported to another culture in much the same way Marchetta's Looking For Alibrandi had me all Italian for the duration of the book. Will Kostakis has a fantastic voice for Aussie teenagers and I can only imagine his future work will go from strength to strength -- looking forward to more of his work. 

The First third @ Penguin
Read an extract
Will Kostakis' website
The First Third @ goodreads

Thanks so much to Penguin Australia for my review copy

1 comment:

  1. Greek male version of Josie Alibrandi? SOLD! I love boy humor, especially of the Jesse Andrews variety, so I have high hopes for this one. Bill and his grandmother don't accidentally get high, do they? :)


Thanks for the commenty love :)