Mini Review: Fat Boy vs The Cheerleaders (Geoff Herbach)

The Deets:

Audience: YA
Publisher: May 6th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 311
ISBN: 9781402291418
Genre: contemporary
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders 
It's geeks versus jocks in an epic battle of the beverages!

From "one of the most real, honest, and still funny male voices to come around in a while" (YALSA) comes a brand-new cast of quirky ch
aracters, pitting fat boy Gabe against the high school cheerleading team in a battle over control of the school's soda machine.

The war is ON! Never have the stakes been so high. Never have the trenches been so deep. Never has one soda vending machine been so vital. When the high school cheerleading team takes over the machine's funds previously collected by the pep band, Gabe will not stand for it. Something must be done. 





It is so hard to find books that boys would want to read. Geoff Herbach did a great job of finding that male voice that will speak to many readers when he wrote Gabe.

Gabe was very entertaining. I loved how layered he was. Gabe is overweight-- okay really overweight-- and hides behind his insecurities with humor and food. We hear that a lot about girls, but not so much about boys. Why would a boy be insecure? Eating your feelings, what? What male teenager is in tune with that? Gabe certainly isn't until he has an epiphany.

In one single moment he starts to realize what's wrong at his highschool and ultimately in his little world, and he gets mad. From that point on it's a pretty amusing story of finding oneself, breaking molds, learning to accept the harshest of life's lessons, and taking a stand. Gabe does all of these things with biting humor and great insight.

The writing style I did not care for, but I can see it being appealing to younger readers. Fat Boy does not unfold like a traditional story since it's being told "deposition style" to the police. For me, that got annoying because all I could tell of certain character interactions was from Gabe's words and actions. It made me feel like an outsider to the story. However, I stuck with it and kept going because I liked the story that Gabe had to tell.

I'm filing this one away as another good book for teenage boys.


Mini Review: Undone (Cat Clarke)

The Deets: 

Audience: YA
Pages: 502
Publisher: January 31st 2013 by Quercus (first published December 20th 2012)
ISBN: 9781780870458
Genre: contemporary
Source: eARC from NetGalley


Undone
 Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it.

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down.

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author.


 




Some books haunt you long after you finish reading them, and Undone is one of those books. When I finished the final page I didn't know what I felt. Anger. Anguish. Everything in between. Such a powerful and tragic ending. 

I had mixed feelings about this book as I read it, but I think my overall impression is that I liked it. It's one of those books that lingers. I had some issues with Jem's interactions throughout the book, but they didn't keep me from turning the pages. I don't want to spend time dissecting characters because it's heart breaking. Jem is broken and blinded by grief, and it has the worst implications for her (as you can imagine). 

What really stuck with me is the range of emotions displayed in this book. Luckily, I have not had many experiences dealing with loss and grief. I cannot speak on the healing process because I am no expert, but what I felt was real. I felt grief and loss. I felt Jem's pain and anger. Undone made me think about so many teenagers faced with difficult (or humiliating) situations and how they choose to cope. The fact that suicide is a "solution" for so many is disheartening. The power of pain to keep you from seeing what is in front of you is also a big feature in this book. Poor Jem, unfortunately, could not see through her cloud of despair. The ending is still pretty awful in the most shocking of ways and for so many reasons. 

I do recommend this one, but be forewarned: It's a heavy hitter. The ending is going to stay with you and drill into your soul, so be committed to finishing. I don't consider it a 5 star book Like Thirteen Reasons Why because there were definite flaws with characters and elements of plot believability, but if you can think of the characters like true high school kids it's going to strike a chord.


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