Vardell’s debut novel introduces Charlie, a bright, witty 18-year-old navigating a college life full of booze, sex, fraternities, machismo and more booze.
The first weekend at their new college, Charlie and his roommate, Seth, find themselves partying as they never have before. Among partygoers and frat brothers, sorority girls and vomit-filled revelry, Charlie finds himself in strange territory. But once he drinks a few beers, he finds confidence and leads readers on a hilarious tour of college life. A major portion of the novel involves Charlie surrounded by outrageous shenanigans in which he’s only too happy to indulge. The characters, though hilarious and exact caricatures of college stereotypes, don’t offer much nuance or dimension. Charlie eventually meets a slightly older woman whom he meets at the grocery store where she works, and they begin dating, a plot development that appears more accidental than pivotal since Charlie’s motivations alter only imperceptibly. The tone of the narrative, however, shifts slightly from relentless partying, which is a welcome reprieve. Via adept dialogue and quick pacing, the author showcases his sense of timing and humor. However, this talent frequently overshadows the storyline. Readers may expect Charlie to change, or, in true satirical fashion, to be consumed by his excesses, but neither happens, which leaves the work somewhat rudderless. If the lack of consequences for these college students is the point, that point is ultimately unrealized. Vardell, however, is clearly a proficient storyteller with a distinct voice.
Somewhat superficial but fans of riotous debauchery will enjoy this quick read.