Cornmaven's Reviews > Payback Time

Payback Time by Carl Deuker
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Aug 15, 11

bookshelves: high-school, middle-school, ms-hs
Read in August, 2011

Full disclosure - I am not a football fan. Don't follow the teams, don't watch much, and don't understand its appeal. But this novel did hold my attention. Deuker has crafted a football novel, but also a mystery as well as a cautionary tale which would explain to younger readers the old proverb, "pride goeth before the fall." And that's why I liked it.

Mitch True's drive to be an exceptional HS journalist/investigative reporter is all wrapped up in his insecurities about his weight and the resulting teasing he endures. But his eagerness causes a life threatening situation for a football player whose secret story he uncovers.

The writing is simple, and seems geared toward reluctant boy readers, which is good. I felt there was too much play by play/blow by blow football in this book, but perhaps those who like the game will see it differently. I have read many books in which sports serves as a backdrop, so I know the style. I found myself skimming even the exciting game parts. It was a necessary tool in the beginning to set the stage for later events, but didn't need to continue.

True has a naivete about him that is pretty real for his age, and gives rise to some good discussion questions -especially the one about whether or not to expose the truth when doing so might cause harm to an innocent kid.

I was disappointed in the ending, felt it wasn't strong enough. And I didn't like that True never felt much remorse for violating student confidentiality as he searched for information (and the adult who knows about it didn't call him on the carpet for it), never mind that in the end there were no consequences for him on that score.
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