Book Review: Rob Doyle – Here are the Young Men

Rob Doyle’s début novel is a page turning social-commentary on a drug-fuelled generation.

The story centres around a group of four-friends living in Dublin who, after having just finished and most probably failed their school careers, are left to contemplate how to deal with the void of life that follows the security of school. Their initial response is to drink, smoke and get stonned as much as possible, however, their friendship quickly begins to deteriorate.

What is interesting about the novel is how Doyle presents the effects of divided working class society coupled with the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. Each character is effected in a different way from their excessive drugs use, which sees them take roughly 3 spliffs a day on top of various experiments with ecstasy and LSD. The narration is in split in four ways, however, only Matthew’s perspective of the story uses a first person narration. From his narration we see his growing dependency on substance abuse and his eventual result to using it as a coping-mechanism after he splits up with his girlfriend, on top of his increasing friendship with the local junkies. While Kearney has always been slightly unconventional, his obsession with the Taliban and 9/11 only increases with his drug use and a trip to America sees him have a growing fascination with rape and violence. However, most poignantly effected is Rez, who develops depression and isolates himself from his friends as a result. The boy’s continuous drug use and increasing less-than inspiring lifestyles makes the novel reminiscent of Irvine Welsh’s cult classic Trainspotting.

Doyle’s influences are clear and characters appear to an amalgamation of famous anti-heroes. Kearney’s habit of slipping in-and-out of reality into violent fantasises and his fascination with poisoning homeless junkies makes him almost a teenage version of Patrick Bateman from Bret Easton-Ellis’ American Psycho,while Matthew’s increasing dependency on drugs and alcohol is only all too familiar to Trainspotting’s Mark Renton. Rez’s tendency to question the morality of the world around him as his depression intensifies is all too reminiscent of arguably the ultimate icon of teenage antagonism Holden Caufield, from the classic The Catcher in the Rye. The final friend Cocker, however, appears a typical 17 year-old lad, not caring about the world around him but instead setting his priorities on girls and alcohol.

However, Doyle’s characters are not as thuggish as they might sound: they are simply bored of the monotony of teenage life in Dublin and, like most teenagers, are still trying to discover their place in an ever-moving world.

While Doyle may sometimes may rely too much on his famous influences, his debut novel is a valiant attempt and one that leaves you turning the page as to find out the boy’s disastrous fait. If you want a happy ending, however, perhaps this book isn’t for you: as with the best novels of this drug filled genre, Doyle portrays the harsh realities of life rather than offering characters a false hope about the consequences of their actions. A book that will fit perfectly on your psychopathic literature shelf, Here are the Young Men is a portrayal of friendship and youth, mixed with a cocktail of vodka and cannabis.

Words by Juliette Rowsell


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