Your name is Kyle. You're fifteen years old. You're really smart, but you didn't push yourself to get into the smart school so now you're stuck. It's boring down here, but whatever, right? You're one of the school's 'hoodies'--the bad boys with the hoods and the same black t-shirt every day. You've got a crush on a girl named Ashley, and maybe someday you'll actually ask her out. Life is defined by not getting caught. But you're fine with that.
Except then Zach comes. He's smart too, but he's different. And he's made it his mission to screw with as many lives as possible at this new school, your school, having been kicked out of his last. He's taken a particular interest in you, actually.
What're you gonna do now?
I kind of feel like writing the rest of the review in second person (You will read the book and you will like it!) since that's the way the book goes, but this is a review, not a Jedi mind-trick. (Yes, you read that right--the book is written in second person. More on this later.)
It's definitely a good book, being Benoit's fourth. It is, however, his first YA book, and it shows--though not quite as much as the fact that the entire idea came as a challenge from his wife. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to guess this had I not heard the author speak in October, but it's obvious there's something a little off about the book. It's extremely fast paced and very short--I read it in a day while still doing work for classes and writing over 1,500 words for NaNoWriMo--but it definitely leaves something to be desired. I could scarcely believe it was over until I realised that I was staring at the back cover of the book. Usually there is a bit of "Well, what now?" at the end of books, but honestly, the story just ends right before the end of the climax.
Going back to the fast-paced bit--yes. Yes yes yes. The telling of the tale is brilliant--the second person comes naturally and is almost hypnotic, drawing you in until you stop realising that no, you haven't suddenly turned into a fifteen-year-old boy named Kyle with a crush on a girl named Ashley who wears the same black t-shirt every single day (unless you are already, in which case, that's kind of creepy and you seriously need to read this book). There were moments where I wasn't sucked in quite as much--like every time Ashley was around (again, more on this in a minute)--but for the most part, total enthralment. (Which apparently is a word.) The story unfolds in a slightly chaotic but overall incredible sort of random way, with flashbacks and copious amounts of foreshadowing, that kind of resembles an exhausted runner jogging and occasionally sprinting along towards the finish line, upon which time they collapse...
And now, Ashley, you get to be addressed. By way of, What does Kyle see in you? I'm torn between thinking it's so real by the way that Ashley literally has no redeeming value and I can't for the life of me see why Kyle is mooning after this girl constantly (he doesn't even listen to her when she's speaking to him) or completely idiotic. I mean, there are books where I don't understand the attraction at all, but at least the protagonist gives some half-decent reason. Not with Ashley. Kyle just becomes a bit of a broken record, noting every now and then that he loves Ashley and that he wants to have sex with her. That's lovely, Kyle. But I'm not buying into it. Which is kind of a problem when I am you.
Aside from Ashley, all the rest of the characters are charming/brilliant in their own way. Kyle is particularly interesting, being smart but not motivated in the least and acknowledging the fact. His love for his little sister is also intriguing and nicely adds another layer to his personality.
However, it's really Zach that steals the show. So strange, so different, so... Well, you'll just have to read it and draw your own conclusions of Zach. Personally, I rather like him in that way that if we were to meet there would be no possible way it would end well.
Overall--go ahead a read it. At most, if you absolutely hate it, you'll have wasted a few hours of your life. But honestly, even if you don't like it, you will be intrigued--by the whole second-person thing, Kyle, Zach... what the heck is going on at the beginning, as it opens with "You're surprised by all the blood"...