Review: The First Third by Will Kostakis

The First Third
Review: The First Third by Will Kostakis
The First Third by Will Kostakis
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 248
Release Date: July 24th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Young Adult
Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you're embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you've made.

That's how Billy's grandmother explains it, anyway. She's given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it's his job to glue their family back together.

No pressure or anything.

Fixing his family's not going to be easy and Billy's not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?

It's a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

bec (2)

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time is read more Australian fiction. Not just books written by Aussies, but books set in the country I’ve grown up in. THE FIRST THIRD is the first book with an Aussie setting I’ve read in a very long time. It’s set in Sydney with a brief stop in Melbourne, two cities I’ve only briefly spent time in, but it was familiar none the less. The sayings and character’s personalities and stuff all felt so familiar.

THE FIRST THIRD also introduced me to a wide cast of characters I’d never read about before. Bill is Greek and my gosh that culture is… quite the opposite to what I’m used to. Loud and big and emotional. Bill’s best friend is a hilarious guy with cerebral palsy, a condition I’ve only heard about but never met anyone with in real life. His mother is single, his family not good at communicating. So many other characters and situations he experienced were new to me. And I don’t think I will ever have the opportunity to go through anything like he does, so I’m grateful for the experience.

The main theme of THE FIRST THIRD is family. Trying to appreciate what you have when you have it, and keeping it all together no matter how much you go to. Being the eldest of three girls, I can understand a lot of Bill’s feelings and frustrations when it came to his brothers. This story made me glad that I have a fairly good relationship with my siblings, but also made me realise I don’t do nearly as much as I probably could. Though his Yiayia does sound very entertaining in a way that my grandparents are not.

In fact, his Yiayia is the whole reason Bill’s story exists. She’s a match maker and a meddler and sounds like she would have been fun to grow up with. When she first sets Bill up on his sort of quest the goals she outlined seem hilarious and not very achievable. But the whole thing becomes solemn when you realise just how much Bill’s entire family needs this. Grandmother’s always know best after all (in most things anyway).

Along with the new experiences, the writing style also made this really enjoyable. It’s quick and funny. Written in an engaging first person POV you really keep turning the pages. I think the main reason the story isn’t getting a higher rating from me is that I wish it was longer! Everything is over so quickly, especially since it’s quite addicting to read. I would have loved more time to be spent on the development of the characters and for more events to happen over the course of the novel.

THE FIRST THIRD was a very Australian novel. Everything centred around family, which made me realise how lucky I am to have the family I have. While not always the happiest novel, it was very entertaining and Bill’s narration was perfect. There were so many times I wanted to laugh, but also many eye opening moments as I was introduced to characters and culture that I doubt I’d ever experience in real life.


Rating Report
Overall: 3.1

30 Comment

  1. Australian fiction is very distinct. I can’t figure out what it is, but as soon as I start reading, I can almost tell it was written by an Aussie. I mean, without knowing the setting of the book that is. I’m actually reading The Minnow right now, and am enjoying it for the most part. It’s an oddity, this one.

    Good luck on your quest this year!
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      There is just something about the voice, hey. A lot of my all time favourite adult fantasy writers are Australian, I just realised. I own more of their books than non Australian writers in the same genre.

      I won a copy of The Minnow not long ago! I’ve heard some good things about it. Hopefully I can find time to read it soon.

  2. This sounds good. Plus, the fact that this is YA novel written in male POV appeals to me. I usually always enjoy male POVs a lot. Nice review, Bec!
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      I haven’t read many male POV novels, especially first person POV. Mostly I stick to female main characters because I relate to them more.


  3. This does sound quite good. I really do want to read more books by Aussie authors and set in the country. I like hearing about other countries and cultures.
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      It’s shocking how little I’ve read considering I live here. Reading about other countries and cultures is always interesting. I think it’s why I love fantasy so much.

  4. Alise says: Reply

    I really like how the focus of this book is family, that’s always refreshing to see in Young Adult, something I wish we saw more of. Plus all of the characters sound so unique, a very diverse cast indeed. Aha, Greek, yep-definitely different.

    1. Bec says: Reply

      We really don’t see it often enough! They were definitely unique haha

  5. I LOVE books about Greek families. I read a book once where this kid had a Greek mom, and it was really funny. Also, it’s nice that a YA book revolves around family instead of, you know, killing them off like always, lol.
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      This was the first book with a Greek family I’ve ever read about and it was an experience! Family based novels with live family members are always nice to read haha. Except they tend to have more feels.

  6. The way Bill’s grandmother describes life in the synopsis is so true, Bec.

    I’ve read a couple of novels by Aussie authors and I’ve yet to be disappointed. I like that the focus of this one is family, and if it’s available here (or via NetGalley), I may give it a try.

    P.S. Have you watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding? It’s hilarious!
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      She had a very good way of explaining life.

      Aussie authors are good, aren’t they ;) We have some great talent here.

      I haven’t seen it! Well, I saw the very start once when I was little but never any more. Might have to try time to watch it one day.

  7. Wattle says: Reply

    I don’t read nearly enough Aussie fiction (my excuse has always been that it feels *too* familiar) so I think I’m going to check this one out :)
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      The familiarity is the fun part sometimes! My reason is I’m too lazy to search for it. Australian books are surprisingly hard to find :/

  8. It’s great fun whenever a book features locales that you’re familiar with because it helps you feel more connected to the story, and gives you an insider’s perspective. Family dynamics can be a real treat too. Nice review!
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      I definitely helped me connect to the character! Which meant I also experienced more feels because of said family dynamics haha.


  9. Yay for Aussie fiction! I haven’t read this one before but I love the themes regarding family. As an only child, I don’t think I’d be able to contact with the sibling aspect as much as you Bec, but I love reading about sibling relationships regardless. Greek families are so interesting! They are definitely loud and strong willed, it’d be interesting to see how that plays into the story. Wonderful review, I definitely need to pick up more Aussie fiction as well!
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      The sibling aspect was done so well. Will was the middle child, where as I am the eldest so it was interesting seeing that aspect, but he really hit the nail on the head with how irritating siblings can be (and also how much you love them regardless).

      I’ve never known a Greek family so it was a bit overwhelming at times haha.


  10. Nicole says: Reply

    Yiayia sounds awesome. I read a lot of Aussie books last year and really enjoyed them. I will add this one to the list.
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      There a heaps of great Aussie books out there. I really need to find more of them.

      I hope you get the chance to read this one :)

  11. Great review Bec, I’m glad you have a greater appreciation of your siblings and of Aussie fiction after reading this. I thought it was a really good family oriented story.
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      It was a lovely family story! I really don’t get the chance to read enough of those.

  12. Oh wow, I got this two and almost 3 years ago at my first PenguinTeenLive and I still haven’t read it! *facepalms* And my dad has coz he was bored oh dear I have a few books to read NO TIME NO TIME NO TIME!!!!
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      I probably got it around the same time from Netgalley haha. Maybe you should add it to your small list of books to read this year XD

  13. The characters and humor sound delightful..I love the setting and don’t think I’ve read anything set there. Awesome review :)
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      Most of it’s set in Sydney which I’m not really familiar with, but it’s one of the more popular Australian settings (which is understandable because so many people live there!)

      Thanks :)

  14. I haven’t read a book set in Australia before either, but it does sound like an entertaining read. Thanks for your honest review!

    1. Bec says: Reply

      This wasn’t my first, but it might be my second book set in Aus! It was very entertaining :D

  15. Kelly says: Reply

    I love his grandmothers words of wisdom, no truer words have been spoken. I read a lot of Aussie authors actually, far more than I’d realised and I couldn’t agree more. We really do have a distinct voice don’t we No matter where in Australia you are, we can relate to the humour, the surroundings and most of all the characters. I really enjoy the quirky reads and being in Melbourne, I can’t wait to see all the cultures such as Bill’s resonate with me.

    Brilliant review Bec <3
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    1. Bec says: Reply

      She is a very wise woman.

      I love the Australian voice. It’s so entertaining and engaging. More Aussie books need to find their way onto my shelf.

      Thanks :)

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