It’s always exciting when one of your favourite authors has a new book out and I eagerly awaited the release of Identity Crisis by Ben Elton for months. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for many years and have read almost everything he’s written. Elton’s razor sharp wit, combined with a firmly attached finger on the pulse of current affairs, is nothing short of genius. He does what he does like no other writer I’ve ever encountered.
Whether the story is based around a controversial societal topic, dystopian-ish look into the future or a past war, I’ve not been disappointed yet. Which is why I was intrigued to learn that Identity Crisis was receiving such mixed reviews, but willing to keep an open mind.
Identity Crisis by Ben Elton: The Premise
As with his previous books, there’s a lot going on and careful attention needs to be paid to keep up. In the opening chapters we learn that a trans woman has been murdered and the police haven’t got much in the way of clues. During the first fifty pages we are introduced to almost as many characters and about ten sub plots. Delving into gender, sexuality, race, class and just about every other divide-the-sides topic you can think of.
Among other things, there’s a government referendum happening; various social media campaigns for various reasons and the falling from grace of a well loved reality TV show. Lots of masterful weaving to join the threads together and a who done it that will keep you guessing until the last few pages.
Identity Crisis by Ben Elton: Why the mixed reviews?
My theory on this is simple. If you voted for (and still believe in) Brexit, this book will probably be a bit too close for comfort. If you’re not a fan of swearing, you might consider it a bit crass. Also, it’s possible to be repeatedly triggered as there are many references to trans rights, #metoo and living in an overly-PC world. Far from being triggered myself, I think he trod carefully and didn’t cross over any invisible lines.
I first fell in love with Elton’s books when I was in my early 20’s – and still in touch with my family. My step father was very vocal about never reading anything written by him, regardless of how complimentary I was about the storytelling. His logic was as binary as it gets: “he’s left wing and I’m right wing. I will never agree with a word he says.”
However, if you are able to put your own political views to the side, I’m certain this book would be great entertainment for anyone who reads it.
Identity Crisis by Ben Elton: My Verdict
For me, the quote on the front cover from iNewspaper totally nails it.
A state-of-the-nation satire so sharp it’s a wonder its pages don’t leave paper cuts!
Regardless of where you sit on the leave/remain debate, I’d highly recommend reading this book. Ultimately it delves into the minds of people across society’s entire spectrum, presenting a great opportunity to gain insight outside of our echo chambers. Give it a go, what’s the worst that can happen?