by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Seventeen days before pounds become euros, two british kids find a bag stuffed with cash, that came off a train destined to burn the money before the changeover. What to do with 229,000 pounds? Keeping it secret from their father, the boys try to spend all the money before it's worthless- and find out a lot about inflation (on the playground!), difficulties of making change, and that it can actually be hard to give money away. In the meantime, robbers are trying to find them, and someone is trying to woo their father. Because you see, their mother recently died (they milk this for all its worth: "my mum's dead" gets them practically every result they want from uncomfortable recipients of their sad faces). The really weird thing is the younger boy's obsession with saints. In the movie (which I saw first) this was an amusing quirk, but in the book it became downright irritating and bizarre. Especially the inclusion of Mormon missionary neighbors- some of those details were downright inaccurate. Like not celebrating Christmas? Was that supposed to be a joke?
Anyway, while I really enjoyed the film version, I found I didn't like reading Millions very much. I kept loosing interest. There were, I can count, three scenes that made me laugh. The Subbuteo game (p. 70), the loaves and fishes miracle (p. 175) and the way cars are named (p. 214). (Go find the book just to read those three passages!) Sadly, three laughs isn't enough to make me like the book. I'd recommend watching the film instead. It's much funnier and gets the same point across about the relative value of money.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 247 pages, 2004