Hey guys! How is everyone doing today? I hope you are all doing awesome.
I know that I am doing particularly fantastic this week. Last week was kind of a downer week but this week has been such a dramatic improvement that I want to run around, drug singing at the top of my lung, ambulance under a rainbow that rains ice cream. I mean, seriously, that’s how I feel right now.
In the last couple weeks, I’ve been really able to put in a lot of effort and work into my blog, and into my new blog (I started an official fansite for Leigh Bardugo‘s Grisha trilogy called The Grisha Army) and I am really excited about it.
But the BEST part about finally having all this time that I didn’t have before is that I’m finally starting to catch on my GoodReads goal. I set a goal of 200 books this year. Which is MORE than doable, but I’ve been busy with school, and life, and the boyfriend, and running this blog! So I haven’t been reading as much; I haven’t had the time to.
But I’m finally catching up! Instead of being 11 books behind, I am now 6 books behind, which is good :) I feel a lot better now. Now I am ready to talk about book #82 for this week’s Book of the Week.
I met Andrew Smith at the Ontario Teen Book Fest, and I admit, I had never heard of him, nor his books before. However, I read the inside cover of his book and it sounded awesome. Also, he had done a special early release for the book at the Teen Book Fest, and it was to be featured the next day in the New York Times, just days before its actual release. Add in the fact that he was an amazing author to talk to, inspirational and just all around great, and I was sold on this book.
Of course, I had a stack a mile long to read, but I was sold.
I just finished the book LAST NIGHT and I am SO ready to talk about it with you guys.
So here’s this week’s Book of the Week:
young adult, contemporary
Part of a Series?:
Nope :) Standalone novel
You May Like if You Liked:
anything by John Green
In this story, we meet Ryan Dean West, a fourteen year old junior in high school (boarding school, to be exact) and he’s ready to make this year the best yet. Last year, after a slight misunderstanding when he steals a teacher’s phone, he’s relegated to the O-Hall, where the troublemakers live. But he’s determined to make the best of it. He plays rugby, and he wants to make the starting line-up. He’s in love with his best friend, Annie, and he’s ready to make that work.
But of course, hilarity ensues, as it would. Ryan Dean (not just Ryan) gets into all kinds of trouble. He gets drunk for the first time, is cursed by the witch that lives in the girls’ dorm of O-Hall, makes out with the hottest girl in school, who just happens to be dating his roommate and gets into crazy physical fights with his friends. Instead of having this great year, as he had expected, things just keep going wild. But Ryan Dean is having the time of his life, making new friends, like Joey and Kevin, chasing after Annie and throwing it down on the rugby pitch. But then a tragedy occurs at the school, and Ryan Dean must face what is important and what is not.
Uh, he broke my heart and sent me sobbing into my boyfriend’s lap at about one a.m. last night? Seriously, I don’t know what’s up with these books I’ve been reading lately. I love to read and I read a lot but its hard to get a review out of me that doesn’t say at least SOMETHING bad, or something that could have been improved…something. But all these books I’ve been reading lately have just been astounding me with the awesome that they are. I have nothing. I just have nothing. And as you read on to the good stuff, you’ll realize why…
There is so much good about this, I don’t even know where to start…
Andrew Smith knows what its like to be a teenage boy (or at least as far as I can tell as I am a girl); he captures the essence of a teenager so easily. The way he writes is as if you climbed inside the mind of Ryan Dean and lived there with him for the few months that are followed in this book. I don’t feel like I’m being told a story; I feel like I am literally living in the story. The story is so real; there’s no, excuse my language, bullshit. Its exactly what would be going on in these teenager’s lives. There’s nothing…fake or forced or not genuine about this book or these characters. This could be your high school, your friends, your days, your thoughts.
The book follows whatever Ryan Dean is thinking in the moment and it is so true to the thoughts of a teenage boy (again, only guessing). One minute, he’s thinking about one thing then he’s completely distracted by the short skirt that a girl is wearing.
Which leads to me to the character of Ryan Dean. What an awesome character. I fell in love with Ryan Dean from the moment that he first started this book. On the very first page of this book, Ryan Dean has his head in a toilet and he says “Except it was a fucking toilet. And my head was in it.” I burst out laughing and I knew from then on that Ryan Dean was going to be my best friend. The sort of things he thinks, the sort of things he does, are all just fantastic. I love that he’s trying to say the right thing, but he comes off as perverted and he gets distracted by all the hot girls and women around him, because he’s fourteen year and let’s face it, the hormones are raging!
I love that he draws little cartoons of situations or writes little scripts of situations in his head. I love his sarcasm and humor. I love his loyalty and I love his absolute bravery. I can’t imagine being a 14 year old junior in high school. That’s intense. I love that he tries so hard, and it doesn’t always work out but he’s a teenager so he’s supposed to mess up. I just LOVE how real he is. I love that he continually calls himself a loser. I love that he drops the f-bomb about a hundred million times in his head. I love that he thinks the teacher who is in charge of the empty O-Hal girls dorm is a witch and has cursed him. I love this kid. He’s so me, he’s so you, he’s a real teenager and he’s so easily to relate to even if you aren’t a skinny, 14 year old male rugby player.
The rest of the characters in the novel follow in the same suit. They are so real as well, down to the very last one of them. They represent every level of person in high school. Everyone that you knew from your high school, every kid is represented there. You have the dorks, the geeks, the popular kids, the token gay kid, the I’m-going-to-deny-I’m-gay-til-the-end-of-time kid, all of them. But the best part about it is…they aren’t fake, they aren’t shallow, they aren’t unreal…there’s nothing stereotypical about them. Okay, maybe there is a *little* bit but all stereotypes come from a basis of fact…and all of these characters are every bit as real as you and me. Annie, JP, Chas, Joey, Kevin, Isobel, all of them are SO real and they all remind me of someone that I used to know or that I know now.
I also love the use of the rugby in the book. I love sports, I love them! There are NOT enough sports in YA literature (I gave props to Sarah Ockler a few weeks ago for using hockey in hers) and I was stoked for more sports. I have such little knowledge on the sport of rugby but I am so ready to find out how I can watch. I love the team kind of atmosphere that a sport can create, a family and all that comes with it, and Andrew Smith really captures that. You can tell that he was obviously involved in this sport somehow in the past because the love for that sport comes across so easily.
Don’t think I forgot about the heartbreak. This book made me SOB. I literally started to sob. I finished the book, put it down, got up, crossed the room, and crawled into my boyfriend’s lap and cried. The end was SO sudden, so brutal, so raw and it caught me off guard. I didn’t see that at all. I won’t say more than that because it comes so close to the end of the novel but be prepared. Have tissues ready. This book is going to break all the emotions you have.
5 out of 5 Stars. Easily. It deserves it.
Recommended or Not?
If you DON’T read this book, you are seriously missing out. You are missing out on definitely one of the best books of 2013, and one of the best YA books that I have read, period. This book will have you LITERALLY laughing out loud one minute, then crying the next moment. It is an amazing, true, original, genuine, fantastic story of a boy coming of age and finding his way through young adulthood, and all the lessons and mistakes and hilarity that comes with it. Don’t miss out on this. Don’t do it!
* * * * *
I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s edition of Book of the Week.
Please come back next week for more :)
And don’t forget to check out the reviews I’m done in the past right here.