‘When Tom’s girlfriend walks out on him the day before Christmas, he feels humiliated but not necessarily heartbroken. Sadie wasn’t, after all, The One. If we’re being precise, she was number eighty-five.
And so, for reasons that are only mostly wrong, Tom embarks on a mission to bring his number of encounters up to a nice neat one hundred.
Over the course of his quest he sleeps with a colleague, a colleague of a friend, a friend of a friend, a friend of a friend’s wife, the estate agent selling his flat and several more besides.
Everything is going, if not well, then at least according to plan…and then Tom meets Verity. Whether she’s The One remains to be seen, but she’s certainly more than just another number.’
I don’t know where to start with this review, I have been rereading my favourite books recently, for the simple fact there were no new books floating about that were quite grabbing my attention! Well…. then along came Andy, who asked if I would review his latest book, and I of course, after fangirling and squealing a little to loudly in a restaurant (where I was dining with family at the time), I said yes. AND I AM SO HAPPY I DID. For me Andy is now one of my auto authors, by that I mean I don’t even have to read the blurb to know that I am going to read his books. His books are just THAT DAMN GOOD.
Now lets talk Girl 99…
From the very first page I found myself completely gripped by Girl 99, we start with a prologue in which Tom is listing reasons as to why he shouldn’t have slept with the girl who is currently singing in his shower, a work colleague named Holly, who he has now slept with numerous times, who now has a favourite mug, a favourite side of the bed and who likes him a lot more than he likes her.
In fact it turns out that Holly is the reason he is now single, a stupid drunken kiss after work one night resulted in him guiltily confessing all to his live-in girlfriend Sadie….. BY EMAIL….. WHILE SHE IS AT WORK…. total dick move!
Four months earlier at dinner,with his best friend El, readers who have read Andy’s The Two of Us will be very familiar with El! (this story is set two years before The Two of Us). Tom confesses to sleeping with eighty-five different women, to El’s absolute delight! El then gets it into his head that Tom absolutely must reach 100, Tom tries to laugh it off but El is not to be ignored, he reckons it’s Tom’s job to keep the national average up, for all those nuns that aren’t getting any. El even makes a bet that he cant make it to 100 in 7 months and Tom finds himself mulling it over.
And so Tom is soon trying to reach 100 notches on his bed post. But silly Tom never casts his fishing net very wide and most of those he sleeps with is connected to his work/friend circle; there’s Holly (work), single at least, Kaz, (work again) but not single, the drunken girl on the tube, who I am pretty sure didn’t even know her own name, there is also the estate agent that came over to evaluate his flat…. who…. well who is VERY keen on our Tom!
Whilst sleeping his way around and treating these girls really quite badly, he meets Verity, through work again, only Verity is different. There is something about Verity that makes him start to think whether he is doing the right thing, but whether he stands a chance with Verity remains to be seen. And his latest conquests may start to catch up with him sooner or later!
There is SO much to love about this book and so many characters to love too. Tom is a major idiot, but even so he really is rather sweet and this shines through with his relationships with his neighbour Doug, his dad and his teen sister Bea. Doug is in his seventies and has been widowed for years, he is currently dating his lady friend Eileen and he has to live with the noise of Tom’s headboard banging and his company screaming through the nights! But even so, it’s very obvious that Doug really cares for Tom and Tom him, they spend a lot of time in each other company playing games and drinking Doug’s weird tasting tea. I think growing up with his dad who is quite religious and maybe was judgmental at times, that Doug is the opposite and will listen without judging, so their relationship is very easy and relaxed. As for his dad and Bea, after losing his mum to cancer years before Tom has taken on the role of not only big brother but dad/mum/friend to Bea. At 17 and at loggerheads with her very religious dad about going out/ drinking etc, Tom is often caught in the middle and trying to please them both, often successfully.
Whilst all this is going on Sadie isn’t quite out of Tom’s life, after confessing that he kissed someone else, Sadie retaliates, so much worse. So she moves out taking belongings of Tom’s as punishment and the car they bought together will now be shared, like a child in a divorce and just as messy. Sadie continually gets parking fines and leaves Tom to pay for them which he does, and then he is left cleaning out all the rubbish she leaves behind. This actually made me quite sad, Tom clearly felt he deserved to be treated so badly because of a silly drunken mistake, but she got her own back and they were even, so he should have stuck up for himself a little more.
Tom has many redeeming features and that’s why, no matter how much of an idiot he is and the fact he really leads these girls on, as a reader you end up being his biggest cheerleader. His relationship with Doug is so endearing, when Doug is away for the weekend with Eileen, Tom is in his flat cleaning it. A complete arse doesn’t act like that, a real sweetheart acts that way. And his relationship with Bea cements how much of a sweetheart he is, when she is at her wits end about doing work experience her dad is forcing on her, Tom comes to her rescue and takes her to London to stay and work with him, he then also helps her to realise her worth when it comes to her idiot of a boyfriend. We also see this side of him around Verity and at work, he’s working on a skittles advert with children, one of which he finds very upset when another child tries to spoil the book that she is reading, Tom ever so gently and kindly puts her mind and ease and the chemistry between him and Verity here is a hand reaching out of the book and slapping you in the face. I was sitting there pleading that he wouldn’t fuck up…. but this is Tom!
Tom and Bea’s relationship for me was spot on, it felt so… real, I know because I am talking from experience, me and my sister have the exact same relationship and she is also 17 and I am often trying to smooth the way between her and my parents but then also, sometimes acting like the third parent. We also have the nicknames and she will stay at mine, so I could totally relate!
I could go on and on and on about how much I simply loved this book, only a very talented writer can write about a man who is an idiot and yet still make you love him by making him have such endearing qualities about him!
I devoured this book, from start to finish Andy’s writing kept me utterly gripped, he makes you not only invested in Tom’s story but also the characters of those around him.
Girl 99 is a compelling story that’s real, honest and funny.
Girl 99 is out on Valentine’s Day and you can and should pre-order it right now!
Now all we need is a story on El, Andy…. I NEED THAT STORY!