Bright Young Things – Scarlett Thomas

Some books are just weird. This is one of them. BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS by Scarlett Thomas was a random pick to fulfill a reading challenge topic – an author with the same initials as you. 

And it was entertaining, with a frivolous premise – six 20-somethings from the UK answer a job as in the newspapers: “Bright Young Things wanted for big project”. While waiting for the interview to start, they’re apparently drugged and then wake up on a small island in the middle of who-knows-where. 

There are 3 men and 3 women, from various walks of life. There’s a house with six bedrooms, it’s stocked with food and drink. But they don’t know where they are or how to get off the island. There’s also no way of communicating with the rest of the world. 

Despite their situation (or maybe they’re resigned because of it?) they have rather ordinary conversations that have to do with pop culture. Very 1990s discussions like favorite band that are rather amusing to me, because I was a teenager in the 90s and loved the whole Britpoprock scene. 

“Thea chooses Blur. As soon as she does, Emily tries to unchoose Take That and claim them for herself. Clearly the ironic choice wasn’t the one to go for this time. They start to bicker about which album came out in which year, when they bought each one, which is the best album (The Great Escape vs 13) and who’s met Damon.” 

I mean, who has this conversation not long after finding out they’ve been drugged then dropped on an island and can’t get out? 

All those pop culture references are a bit dated now. And I wonder what a current 20-something would make of this book. In Thomas’ preface, she did say she wanted this book to be a time capsule of sorts, and how “in a sense, every good novel is a time capsule”. Reading this definitely made me think of the 90s again when life seemed a lot simpler but also a lot more angsty (teenagers 🤷‍♀️). 

Not a lot happens in this book, which is funny considering how I was drawn in by the whole “dropped on a deserted island” idea. But there were amusing conversations and it made me want to listen to some Blur and Placebo. Ooh maybe some Suede too.