A REVIEW: MY MERCEDES IS BIGGER THAN YOURS
There are bad books. Books with nothing good to write home about. They give you a headache and leave you wondering what ill luck led you to read them. And then there are ‘shitty’ books. ‘Shitty’ books betray you. They hook you in with the promise of something beautiful, string you along with hints until suddenly, you’re over halfway through and wondering if you missed something or just haven’t given the book enough time to get to the point. My Mercedes Is Bigger Than Yours by Nkem Nwankwo is a prime example. Here are reasons why:
I don’t know about you but I found the title intriguing. That, in addition to the fact that an African wrote it, gave me the impression that this book was going to revolve around neighbours or members of an extended family warring for a higher level of recognition within the society in keeping with their socioeconomic status. It is perfectly reasonable to infer from the title that both warring factions would own a Mercedes Benz, with one faction having a newer, flashier or even literally, bigger one than the other’s. You can imagine my shock and disbelief when I did not come across a single character who owned a Mercedes after reading the book. Not once was a Mercedes mentioned in any authority. Instead, the book followed the travels and daily activities of an entitled and conceited young man who had never experienced any real trial. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the myriad of things wrong with this book.
To be accurate, the lack thereof. I am not against a good character-driven book. When properly done, I prefer character-driven to plot-driven books. I gave more chances than I care to admit considering it let me down until I had no choice but to give up. Well over halfway into the book, I was still stuck in that sense of waiting. The waiting for the story to start, for all the information thus far to come together, to make sense. At no point did it happen. Even character-driven books have a point, a climax, an epiphany it is headed towards. Not this book though. From the lack of direction to the frankly unrealistic female tertiary characters, My Mercedes Is Bigger Than Yours became a growing pile of less-than-average.
- WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREATER RESPONSIBILITY
I know how unfair it sounds but I stand by it in this context. The reason I got as far as I did before giving up on the book was solely because the writing style was near flawless. Despite all Nkew Nwankwo lacks in plotting, character development and nearly everything else, he excels in stringing words together. The flow of the story rarely made sense and was choppy at best with no mention of future events until said events were upon the reader. However, the writing style segued so smoothly into those events that it was difficult to notice, much less take offence. That is where my grievance lies. A writer of his calibre could easily and should in all honestly have produced a better work. It was akin to someone with Mbappe’s skill level failing spectacularly in a football match against average 9-year-olds. It was criminal and in my books, unforgivable. It blew any and all excuses for the mediocrity of this book out of the water.
A glowing but thoroughly undeserved recommendation.
As much as we preach that books should not be judged by their covers, it is still common practice to do so. The cover should honestly have been my first warning. It was nothing to write home about. In addition, the characters were frustratingly undeveloped and two-dimensional, especially for a book that was character-driven. It was insulting, to say the least and it gave the impression the book was written simply for the writer to flex his prowess at stringing words together. I do not recommend it. It is not even fit for recommendation as punishment. The book earned zero stars from me. No stars and a place of honour on my blacklist. Read at your own risk.