Playing with Matches
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Playing with Matches

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  689 ratings  ·  114 reviews
SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD LEON SANDERS has a mug that looks like it should be hanging in a post office somewhere. If he didn’t have his twisted sense of humor, he’d have nothing at all. So it’s no wonder to Leon and his friends that the gorgeous Amy Green will never even look twice at him.
However, there is one girl who might: Melody Hennon. Everyone at Zumner High keeps their dis...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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Nov 29, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: high school, dating, burn victims, appearances, love
Shelves: teenfiction
Time to be honest here. I only read this book as a favor to a friend who gave me a stack of books to read. I picked this one to read first because it was the one I wanted to read the least. The cover did nothing for me and I dreaded starting it. Imagine my surprise to discover I couldn't put it down.

Leon is a self-professed loser. He was bullied in middle school and has gotten throgh high school by essentially being invisable. But when he has to do a project with the school "freak" - burn victim...more
Katcher, Brian. Playing With Matches, 304 pgs. Random House Children’s Books.; Language~PG-13, Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~G;

Leon dreams of one day hooking up with the beautiful Amy Green. Unfortunately, Leon is your typical seventeen year old complete with obnoxious cohorts and girls who are friends . . . but not girlfriends. More often than not he is concentrating on her in chemistry instead of the teacher. Then he is paired with Melody for their history project and things start to change...more
I seriously credit this book with having a huge impact on my life. September 2011. My freshman year of high school. I enjoyed reading, but did VERY little of it. However, I had nothing to do in my study hall, so I go to the library to find a book to read. This one catches my eye based on its cover that I thought was interesting. And so I checked it out, and fell in love. This book made me love reading. I was hooked and could not put this down. Amy mesmerized me. I had never read a book before wi...more
mr. brian katcher you are officially one of my favorite authors!

it was oh-so-funny. i laughed (quite loudly, i must add) and grinned and smiled a lot throughout the book.

but it was also kind of.. painful. a lot of truths were said in this book. between looks and personality, looks almost always won. that realization was like a rude awakening for me. how many times did we bear with the hot guy/girl we've crushed on forever even if they are boring you out of your minds and you have nothing in comm...more
I enjoyed this somewhat cringe-worthy novel of teen romance, angst and whatnot. Leon is a junior in high school and can't seem to get any girls--especially his dream girl, Amy. He's pining away at his locker when he suddenly finds himself sharing locker space as well as project time with Melody, a scarred, childhood burn victim who is even more of an outcast than he is. Strange and wonderful things start to happen. He develops friendly--maybe even more than friendly--feelings for Melody, and (mi...more
I read this book two years ago - originally I had given it four stars, but now I'm giving it 3.5 and rounding it down to three. I felt like the main character possessed qualities (or a lack of qualities) that made him more relatable to the average teenage male. This didn't make me like him any less, though.

Also, the ending annoyed me. It sort of made the entire book pointless, at least plot-wise. If the author had the intention of utilizing this work as a wake-up call to all the individuals who...more
Jen Warren
I can't believe I never reviewed this...

Brian Katcher has a unique voice in the YA world and Playing With Matches is a book like none I'd ever read before. To be honest, I didn't expect to like it. That changed by the end of the first page. Really.

I'm not going to recap here, as the author's blurb does a wonderful job of introduction, and I'd hate to spoil this story for anyone. What I will say is this: the dialogue is realistic, the characters are genuine, and the plot moves along at the perfec...more
Oh wow, you could really see into the characters heads, the honesty was brutal and brilliant. When he went to kiss her ear.... my heart broke. Well done Mr Katcher, well done.
Anna Bautista
I absolutely loved this book! As a person who's gone through what Melody has gone(kind of: boy has girl, boy sees another girl, boy leaves original girl), this book really touched me. I laughed, I rolled my eyes, I grunted and I smiled at all Leon's moments. I even felt for Amy at some time, and I usually hate whoever "Amy" is in real life(the girl who home wreaks or the girl who's every guys dream). Brian Katcher really puts the mind of a teenage boy in this book! I can't stress enough how good...more
Read for professional review.
Leon Sanders wants to date dream girl Amy Green, but he would settle for dating just about anybody. He has gone through the school systems with a relatively low place on the social food chain, experiencing somewhat decent luck with friends and zero luck with girls.
One day Leon finds that his new locker neighbor is Melody Hennon, the ultimate outcast. A victim on a childhood burn incident, Melody is severely disfigured.

“The flames had eaten away most of Melody’s face and left her with no ears wh...more
How important is physical beauty in human relationships, and why? Young adult books and movies often suggest that inner beauty is far more valuable and that the smart hero or heroine will win out, despite not being on the Homecoming court. But the characters in those books - our their adult counterparts - are rarely repulsive, or even ugly.

Playing With Matches is different. The male narrator is the smart slightly nerdy type, probably average looking, certainly self-deprecating. But the object o...more
Shawn Bird
Another winner by author Brian Katcher, whose male narrators ring so true. Katcher has dealt with the complexities of relationships as he examines lust and friendship amid dreams and realities. In this book, while lusting over the cheer-leader he's adored since elementary, the main character makes friends with the burn victim who has been the butt of jokes and ignored for years. Of course, just when their relationship amps up, the cheerleader takes an interest at last. There are no stereotypes h...more
Playing with Matches is what I would describe as an unconventional love story. Leon is your typical high school dork who can't get a girlfriend. He befriends Melody, who is a girl who had severe facial damage. She's someone who no one has bothered to talk to or give a chance to. But he has his eyes on the beautiful Amy, who wouldnt' give him a chance. Is it worth throwing away a deep friendship with Melody for a chance with the beautiful Amy? This book was a powerful read, filled with a cast of...more
Nicholas May
Brian Katcher's debut novel tells a tale of teenage boy who finds himself stuck between finally getting noticed by the hottest girl in school and realizing he is in love with the "freak" Melody, who was badly burned as a child.

I am currently writing a YA novel, and therefor I have been reading as many of them as I can. I don't find many debut novels that can get me hooked so completely, rooting for, screaming at, and worrying about the characters. I loved the book, and Brian Katcher is a name t...more
The first thing I noticed about the book was its cover which is horrible(I am really sorry). The cover does not attract the reader at all. Fortunately the summary on the back is well written so some maybe will start reading it. Nowadays, a cover is really important because when we enter a book store we are surrounded by thousands of beautiful covers and we tend to go towards the one we like the most(when we are not looking for something in particular).

The plot is complex and very well written. I...more

☆the good☆

leon is hilarious; his friends are on point; melody is such a great person i love her to death; the samantha/amy drag session about feminism; melody telling leon the truth and giving it to him straight; the freakin axlerod movies or w/e; satanic dan; satanic dan suffering through a foreign film w/ buttercup

☆the bad☆

leon thinking he deserves a gf; leon leaving melody for amy; amy as a whole; leon trying to get melody back by embarassing her to death at a movie theatre; leon getting

Brian Katcher has become one of my favorite authors in only two books (I can't get my hands on the first one). As readers, we always strive to be able to connect with the text. Growing up and living in the Saint Louis, Missouri area makes this incredibly easy with Brian Katcher, as he makes references to various places many a mid-Missouri resident would know. It's definitely entertaining to come across the mention of Mid Rivers Mall or Lake Saint Louis (or when he talks about a 'dollar show' and...more
Liza Gilbert
I absolutely adored this book. The story of a boy who falls in love with a disfigured girl was touching, emotional, memorable.
A good story about getting what you think you wanted, only to find out that maybe you made the wrong choice after all.
Elle Todd
This novel was one I stumbled upon, entirely by accident. I have a habit of wandering around book review sites and I thought I’d clicked to read about another title when this one popped up. The five stars given made me read the review. The review made me buy a copy. The copy turned me into a devoted fan of Brian Katcher.

This book is listed as young adult, but it’s worth checking out no matter your age. The characters feel authentic, the setting realistic. I could’ve gone to this high school; I c...more
Leon Sanders is a pretty average teenager. Maybe even less than average, in his own mind. At seventeen, he's ready to have a girlfriend; and his ideal is Amy Green -- the most beautiful and popular girl at Zummer High. Fat chance. She doesn't even know he exists. Until he eats her cigarette in the parking lot and saves her from detention. But she still doesn't show romantic interest in Leon, so Leon pursues other avenues, even though he does so unintentionally. Through a twist of fate, Melody He...more
A refreshing take on the traditional coming-of-age/first romance story. Leon is a guy who deems himself one of the most unpopular kids in school. Not as unpopular, however, as a few others, including a girl named Melody, who has burn scars all over her face due to an early childhood accident. One day, Leon makes a joke and Melody laughs. A friendship begins. Eventually, Leon must admit to himself and everyone else that he actually is more than friends with Melody, even if it might mean losing an...more
Mrs. Foley
Desperate to improve his standing with the girls at Zummer High, Leon Sanders--a junior--seems to be making headway with his long-time crush Amy Green, but when he starts to get to know a social pariah named Melody Sanders, Leon begins to see beyond Melody's disfigurement. - from library catalog record

Gateway nominee for 2010-2011 (Missouri author too!)

Review from School Library Journal:
Leon Sanders, 17, a self-described geek, craves the attention of perfection-personified Amy Green, who consist...more
Guys like the hot chick. Beauty is only skin deep. These two truisms, and the tension between them, are the fondation of Katcher's funny coming-of-age story. There's a lot to like in this book: plenty of humor, believably dorky protagonist, an interesting twist on teen-aged love/lust. Leon fits the social-misfit roll well (he likes "Monty Python," "Black Adder," and t-shirts with odd sayings) making his journey from awkward-with-girls to caught-in-a-love-triangle believable. There are many momen...more
Sarah BT
I read this one because it was on the Gateway premlinary nominee list and I'm so glad it was. I'm not sure if I would have come across it otherwise. I wasn't sure what to expect-I'll admit when I first saw it on the list, I thought "oh, it's just on there because it's a Missouri author." But I was blown away by this book.

Brian Katcher packed so much emotion into this story-I found myself tearing up at parts and honestly, I don't cry that much in books. The characters are all well drawn and the...more
Playing with Matches is a young man's romantic coming of age story. Leon is a junior in high school hoping for his first serious girlfriend and a one way ticket out of the geekdom he feels mired in. Leon grapples with dating someone with whom he really connects with on many levels but doesn't find very attractive or dating someone really beautiful but flawed and selfish. Leon suffers from his own esteem problems which further complicate matters. Leon's romantic interests are diametric opposites,...more
Hope Baugh
Feb 16, 2009 Hope Baugh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hope by: Best Books for Young Adults list
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judy (Geeky Reading)
[This review, among many others, is also available on my blog.]

I liked this book. I had a small problem with it and I was expecting/hoping to like it more, but overall I did enjoy it.

Leon, the main character, is a pretty average guy, although he doesn’t have a nice face and so has no luck with girls. Melody has been going to school with him for years, but aside from being made fun of, no one pays attention to her, because most of her face and neck and ears are horribly scarred by a burn....more
Jeff Lanter
This book is everything I love about Young Adult novels. There are realistic characters like Leon (a nerdy loser) and Melody (an outcast, because she is severely scarred from burns) who are not over elaborate metaphors or uninteresting characters seen in adult fiction. The book reminds me of movies like American Pie, Sex Drive, and others, but Playing With Matches delivers a full-fledged plot instead of running gags that make you want to gag in a mostly good way. The ending will leave you satisf...more
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“I had two beady brown eyes that, no matter how hard I tried to look mysterious and cool, always seemed to say "It wasn't just me who farted.” 3 likes
“Nothing like the soft touch of a woman. Her smooth skin...or her rough scars.” 2 likes
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