Tuesday 10 November 2015

Book Review & Giveaway (CLOSED): The Person Controller by David Baddiel

Last Updated: 7 November 2021

The Person Controller by David Baddiel book cover

AD* | Fred and Ellie are twins. But not identical (because that's impossible for a boy and a girl). They do like all the same things, though. Especially video games. Which they are very good at. They aren't that good, however, at much else - like, for example, football, or dealing with the school bullies.

Then, they meet the Mystery Man, who sends them a video game controller, which doesn't look like any other controller they've ever seen. And it doesn't control any of their usual games. When the twins find out what it does control, though, it seems like the answer to all their problems. And the key to all their wildest dreams. At least it seems like that...

I first heard about this book when I was on the way to Cambridge to see Rae Morris perform there a couple weeks back (you can read my review of her show here). We had the radio on in the car, and who should come on for an interview but David Baddiel, the author of this book! In the interview Baddiel talked at length about The Person Controller, and, of course, my interest was piqued.

When I was offered the chance to review this book a week or so later, I jumped at the opportunity. When it arrived though and I started reading, I must admit my feelings changed.

What originally attracted me to The Person Controller was the plot. It sounded like a completely new and inventive idea and one that hooked me just from the description alone. That's just as well though, as in the end, the plot was the only thing that kept this book going for me. It was fast-paced with plenty of action, packed with all the special moves from popular video game characters.

I knew this was a children's book, but I will admit that I thought it would be edging more towards the lower end of YA. As a general rule of thumb, I don't tend to review purely children's books (with some exceptions of course) - after all, I don't have children so there's not much point in me reviewing it without being able to run it past its target audience first! So with that in mind, reviewing The Person Controller has been quite a struggle.

The book is funny, with the humour obviously targeting the younger audience, though it is very literal - perfectly encapsulating Baddiel's trademark brand of humour. However, the humour is too childlike for my taste, though of course, that's just my personal opinion.

No, the biggest problem lies with the characters. The Person Controller is full of unoriginal stereotyped characters, completely at odds with the uniqueness of the plot. From the various sets of peas-in-a-pod twins to the busy and preoccupied parents to the big, mean opposition in Fred's football match.

But the worst example of this is the bullies, Isla and Morris (more twins). Morris, being the boy, is the muscle behind the operation. He's strong but slow and incredibly stupid. Then Isla, as the girl, is the brains. She's clever, yet tends to leave the physical side of things to Morris. And of course, they're the headmaster's children. I don't think it's possible to get much more stereotypical than that.

Despite all its flaws, I think this would still be a good book for children - especially if they're gamers! The Person Controller is available to buy now.

Rating: 2 stars

I've also got a copy of The Person Controller up for grabs, just in time for Christmas! If you fancy your chances, you can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:
1. Giveaway closes on 23rd November 2015 at 11.59pm (GMT).
2. The prize consists of one copy of The Person Controller by David Baddiel.
3. Upon confirmation of the winner's address, the prize will be posted to the winner by The Big Shot PR, NOT The Writing Greyhound.
4. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 13 and over.
5. The winner will be randomly generated by Rafflecopter once the giveaway has ended.
6. The winner will be informed by email once the giveaway has ended.
7. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize. If the winner has not responded by this time, another winner will be announced.

If you like the sound of this book, you might also enjoy...

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Will you be reading The Person Controller? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. a book my mum read called mervyn the mouse i lost my copy but came across it in a charity shop my mum did the voices it was brilliant

  2. I adore The Indian in the Cupboard!

  3. Back Home by Michelle Magorian

  4. I'Houdini The Amazing Story of an Escape-Artist Hamster by Lynne Reid Banks

  5. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory has always been my Favourite

  6. Charlie & The Chocolate Factory :-)

  7. I always enjoyed the Borrowers stories.

  8. The BFG, Stig of the Dump, The Borrowers. Too many favourites to pick just one!

  9. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

  10. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe was one of my all time favourites. So magical!

  11. I always loved anything by Enid Blyton and now my daughter loved the Noddy books

  12. Wanted a King by Maggie Brown: it's about a 100 years old but if you can get hold of a copy it's sheer magic.

  13. Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree

  14. I love the noddy books (@PeanutHog)

  15. The BFG by Roald Dahl.

  16. The "Jill" series by Ruby Ferguson!

  17. Pam Francis Gregory23 November, 2015 15:01

    Harry Potter

  18. It would have to be Black Beauty

  19. Matilda - really grabbed my imagination when I first read it. I remember trying to move pencils with the power of my mind!

    1. I think we all tried that Caroline! Best of luck x

  20. The gruffalo is my favourite