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Saturday, April 9, 2011

90 Packets of Instant Noodles by Deb Fitzpatrick

Title: 90 Packets of Instant Noodles
Author: Deb Fitzpatrick

Release Date: 31st May 2010

My Rating: 5/5

Joel and Craggs are in it together. They drink booze together, they flirt with petty theft together and, when Craggs turns violent, they face the consequences together too. That’s until Joel’s dad makes a deal with the police. Craggs is off to juvenile detention and Joel to solitary confinement. Ninety days of fending for himself in a remote bush shack with no radio, telephone or fridge.

Miles from anywhere, Joel starts to like his own company, till one day the past tracks him down. Craggs is on his doorstep and he hasn’t changed a bit.

My Review:
90 Packets of Instant Noodles is refreshing story about 16-year old Joel, who has made some bad decisions in life. It is a novel primarily about peer pressure but also about how sometimes, it's not too late to change your ways. Told from Joel's point of view, we see the negative impact having a certain type of friend can have and the difficulty of cutting the ties of friendship. How far do the bonds of mate-ship go? When is it finally time to say 'enough'?

Joel, stuck in an isolated bush shack south of Perth, Western Australia, and comforted only by weekly letters from his girlfriend Bella, rather revealing letters from his dad, and a pesky fox he has christened 'Foxy', is at first miserable and angry at his dad for such an arrangement. He soon realises though, what a blessing the forced isolation is and discovers his own self worth. He realises that his life doesn't have to disappear down the toilet and end up in jail like his friends Craggs and Sull.

Just when he thinks everything is going to be alright though, Craggs shows up and is ready to get back to their old ways, starting with the remote town that has semi-befriended Joel since the start of his three month exile. While the good in Joel had just been buried for a while and he wasn't 'too far gone' , Craggs's time in juvenile detention only made things worse and fuelled the fire burning inside him.

Craggs has no desire to change and wants to drag his friends along for the ride. He needs someone else to be running amok with him because if he's not doing it alone then it has to be ok. How can Joel escape from this kind of friend when he knows how Craggs will lash out? The fear holds him back and that is exactly how Joel ends up in the shack in the first place, when Craggs goes too far and Joel doesn't do anything to stop him. Joel had even developed a stutter over the years because of his unconscious fear and nervousness of Craggs.

I really liked Joel's dad. He is a good guy who really wants to help his son. I like how their relationship gets stronger throughout the book even through the circumstances are not ideal. Same with Bella, she brought out the other side of Joel, the good side, and it was somewhat due to her that Joel wanted to turn his life around.

90 Packets does contain quite a bit of swearing as well as some drug use but aside from this, and the obvious unsavoury behaviour, I think this would be a good text for upper high school students to study. You can find Teachers Notes, courtesy of Fremantle Press, here.


  1. I've been keen to read your review of this, sounds like a really interesting examination of male relationships.

  2. Great review Jess. I haven't heard much about this book but it sounds like a good realistic fiction read full of interesting and likeable characters :)

  3. This sounds like a really interesting read which focuses on character rather than action. Intriguing!

  4. This is a really excellent book. Moved me. Read it.


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