The tenth book written by David Walliams, ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’ is probably the most outlandish of them all – a real disappointment as this book could’ve been something much better.
The book is – unlike others written by the author – set in 1983 and follows the story of Jack Bunting, a shy twelve-year-old obsessed with his Grandpa’s amazing war stories. However, Grandpa had developed a mental issue where he thought that it was still 1940 and he was an RAF pilot fighting in the war. This book is the story of Grandpa and Jack’s great adventure and their escape from Twilight Towers, the formidable old-folks home Grandpa is put into with a dark secret.
I felt that this book was just a mixture of recycled plot-points from other David Walliams books thrown together with hardly anything original in it. The idea of elderly role-models being taken away is a reoccurring theme in Walliams’ books also characters in disguises and not being who they claim to be appear author’s novels as well – notably ‘Awful Auntie’ (my review of that book can be viewed here). There’s also the overly-strict teacher, the menacing villain from Walliams’ later books (‘Ratburger’ onwards) and many other things in this book which I recognised.
There is also the outlandish story which this book tells. Some things are just too unrealistic for my liking, such as Grandpa and Jack breaking into the Imperial War Museum and stealing the Spitfire and flying it before being chased and almost shot out of the sky by a Harrier Jump Jet. It’s things like this which made this book not quite as good as I think it could be. If there wasn’t the menacing villain or the unrealistic heists, this story could be a heartfelt tale of Jack and how he copes with his Grandpa’s difficulties and more like Walliams’ earlier novels which were based around a moral and a lot more simplistic yet – I think – better.
This is something I’ve noticed in David Walliams’ books – his first four (‘The Boy in the Dress’, ‘Mr Stink’, ‘Billionaire Boy’ and ‘Gangsta Granny’) do not include a menacing villain with an evil plot – usually involving torture or death. These books focus about friendships and family, relationships and morals. These, for me, are the best of Walliams’ books as they are entertaining but teach us lessons of life at the same time. However, with later books, Walliams has written of ghastly antagonists for the child-heroes to defeat and I don’t find these stories quite as appealing as the earlier ones. ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’ – unfortunately – fits into this category of books with over-villainous antagonists and no real life-lesson and just a mis-match of loosely-linked comedic scenes.
I really can’t say much good about this book; I could understand why a child may enjoy it, purely for some of the comedy in some scenes and the descriptions of warfare and dogfight. However, I personally would’ve rather read a much less extravagant story and one which is more down-to-earth, without the antics of unrealistic heists and escapes and with a lot more emotion and feeling. Because of this, I’m going to give ‘Grandpa’s Great Escape’ a meagre four-out-of-ten and just hope that the eleventh Walliams book isa bit better.
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