In brief: Simon tries to discover who the Stig is, but runs into wild rumours and crazy coincidences everywhere he goes.
The good: Really funny in some places, I loved the characterisation of Clarkson, Hammond and May.
The not-so-good: I didn’t always get the UK pop culture references and the joke does wear thin at times.
Why I chose it: I love the now ‘old’ Top Gear and this was on sale.
Publisher: BBC Books (Random House)
Setting: Mainly the UK
My rating: 7.5 out of 10
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a massive fan of the 3-host Top Gear (aka the Clarkson, Hammond and May years except for that first season with the other guy which really wasn’t the first season). As I’m one of the seven people in the world who are not currently a Top Gear host, I need to get my kicks elsewhere. This time it was courtesy of the BBC Shop Australia online sale (which has since sadly closed down probably because I bought all the Top Gear stuff and my friend bought all the Dr Who stuff). I had never heard or seen this book and I thought it would be a good for a laugh or two. Normally, I get my laughs from the Top Gear books aimed at 13 year old boys, but this looked to be the adult alternative.
Simply put, this is the story of Simon, a renowned biographer of many UK and worldwide famous people. He has a new mission: write a biography of the Stig. Which is rather difficult because the Stig doesn’t talk and nobody knows where he came from. But Simon has some very good plans and very good connections. He’s going to find out the role Stig has played not only on TV, but in instrumental events in Formula 1 and music. Simon’s investigative mind means that he is the only person who can undertake this momentous feat.
Now I really hope you weren’t looking for a serious Stig biography (perhaps The Man in the White Suit would suit you better). This is tongue in cheek fiction and it’s very funny in places. Overall, I think it’s a bit long – the Formula 1 bits I didn’t really get because all I know about the topic is Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and that you can buy it in Lego form. It’s incredibly far-fetched in some most places but there are parts that every faithful Top Gear fan will love. In particular, Jeremy, James and the other bloke are all portrayed as slightly crazy but lovable individuals. James is of course incredibly boring and meticulous while Clarkson is loud and yells ‘literally’ a lot! Richard is somewhat odder, with an interest in the supernatural even though he pretends to be very ordinary. I particularly loved their theories of how the Stig was born, mainly because I fell for the whole thing. (I don’t watch a lot of movies!)
This is not a book to read in one sitting – you’ll get sick of the jokes. Also, if you’re not familiar with British celebrities, some of the names might wash over you. I adored the Top Gear moments and the inside commentaries on the Black Stig, the Stig’s cousins and Ben Collins. The other stuff…not so much. This could easily be read by picking the chapters you’re most interested in and leaving the rest.