Book Review: Show of Hands by Anthony McCarten

Show of Hands is a pretty good book. It's not at the top of my scale...well, I don't have a scale, but if I did, this one would be in the mid-range.

It's a quick and easy read, I finished it in just a few hours. It's 240 pages, but it's just a little paperback so the pages turn fast.

I was walking through the library and it happened to catch my eye. The cover pages mean a lot to me, if I don't have any interest in the cover, I don't pick it up unless I had a reason to do so. You know how some people say you can't judge a book by its cover? That doesn't hold true for me in the library. I judge them all by their cover and I expect that cover to rope me in and make me reach out and grab that book. And this one did for some reason. What's ironic about this is that the book is about people who try to win a vehicle at a car dealership by keeping their hand on it the longest. The morning show I listen to (Rick Emerson - great show!) just happened to be having a similar contest that started the day after I picked this up from the library! I know - crazy, right? That's real irony, not Alanis Morrissette irony.

Anyway, this book is based on an interesting concept - who are these people who actually participate in contests where they have to suffer sleep deprivation and compete in a mundane contest that involves very little skill. It follows a number of characters who participate, though the main focuses are two of the contestants, both of whom I liked, but overall, I didn't feel like I really knew well enough. The charcters were just .... blah. I didn't really get to know any of them well. I knew a lot of them a little bit, but I kept hoping to feel more connected to one of them. At least one of them.

There were a lot of side dynamics going on throughout the book - the young widow with the handicapped child (who was barely mentioned), the auto dealer hosting the contest who introduced us to his mistress for just about 9 lines spread throughout the book, the ex-soldier who was a big-talker and maybe not so honest....I've almost told you every detail you are given in the book about these people. They just don't rope you in and make a connection with you, but you want them to! You really do!!

One of the parts of the story that came up multiple times was that one of the contestants woudl sprint to a fast-food place down the road on their 7-minute break (maybe it was 5). EVERY time this came up, I could ONLY think: why would he even have to do this?? There was supposedly a crowd watching, and family members cheering them on---wouldn't one of THEM go get them food/drinks/coffee?? It just seemed like it didn't fit and it was mentioned multiple times. It irritated me. It just didn't make sense.

Overall, I would say you would enjoy this book if:
  1. You want a light read that you don't have to pay much attention to.
  2. You don't like books that give you very in-depth information about the characters early-on in the story.
  3. You are given this book and have a couple hours to spare.
  4. You were ever a contestant in a contest where you have to keep your hand on a car.


  1. Portland Rose said...:

    That was coincidence. Not irony, silly.

    LOL. I love the guy who runs. I hate when books, movies, tv shows etc don't think through those things. It just seems lazy.

    I love your list of reasons why you might like to read this book. ha

  1. Hmm, that sounds like my life. Sleep deprived, full of mundane tasks with bursts of high pressure energy drains.
    Not sure I would want to read about it if they don't go into the characters.


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