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War and Speech

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  48 reviews
At Eaganville School for the Arts, Speech and Debate is king. The varsity members of the squad are treated like heroes, and the coach, the irascible Joey Sparks, might as well be a god. But when new girl Sydney Williams, a perennial loser, joins the team, she has only one goal in mind: To infiltrate the team in an elaborate conspiracy and tear them apart from the inside ou ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Disney-Hyperion
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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One of my favorite YAs in recent years is the wildly underrated The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig. It’s funny, with spot-on teen dialog. This is Zolidis’s follow up to that book and I’m thrilled it has equally enjoyable dialog and wit to it, while also offering some real depth. Zolidis is a playright and that is especially evident in the dialog he writes.

Sydney’s father is in jail for a white collar crime, and she flunked out of her last high school. She’s starting fresh at a performing arts
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a complimentary copy of this book courtesy of FFBC. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

War and Speech
By: Don Zolidis

War And Speech is a unique story about Sydney, daughter of a jailed white collar criminal, as she navigates a new kind of life. Because of her father's crimes, Sydney and her mom toppled from rich to very poor in an instant. Sydney has only known her former lifestyle, so this change is a dramatic traumatizing experience. Now
Don Zolidis
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Hey it's my second book!

I'll post a cover soon, but I can't wait for you to read this. This is a super-fun caper-style novel, with lots of humor and lots of nods to the speech community.
Leah Waters
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, ya-fiction
Ever since I joined Speech and Debate in high school, I've wanted to read a Speech and Debate book. Finally, I've found one!

I really enjoyed War and Speech. It was fun to revisit debate and the drama, and Sydney was such a fun character with her spunk and determination. Add in a revenge plot and I was sold. The characters were lovable--or despicable, depending on who they were. This book was full of humor that had me smiling the whole time.

My biggest problem is how successful the main character
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

I don’t like the trope MC is in pain/traumatized so she acts like a mean jerk until people break through her shell. Sydney is pretty darn awful. Her darts are thrown in the form of sarcasm and what she considers to be humor. I give Don Zolodis credit for writing a few funny lines, but over all found Sydney to be obnoxious and unlike any real teenager.

The premise of WAR AND SPEECH is a group of misfits, led by new student Sydney, set to take down the entitled debate team, because as nati
Kathryn Speckels (Metaphors and Miscellanea)
Full review coming soon, but basically, this was a really funny and heartwarming story with a super snarky narrator whose voice is super memorable. My only big objection much the author got wrong about speech? Especially about how rounds work and what OO is? Which is weird, because he writes plays that are basically designed for speech team. I know tons of people who competed with his stuff. To see those details come out wrong was very confusing to me.

But hey, if you weren't a speech k
Samantha (WLABB)
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, ya
Rating: 4.5 stars

When Sydney's dad was sent to prison, she became someone everyone avoided. After relocating from their McMansion to a less than desirable apartment, she found herself with the possibility of escaping her past failures, and perhaps, finally being a winner at something.

I know many people were interested in this book, because it held the promise of featuring speech and debate, but I honestly wanted to read it, because Zolidis wrote it. Last year, I read his YA debut, The Seven Torm
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Check out the full review on my website. CLICK HERE



DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley, Disney-Hyperion, and FFBC tours for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

War and Speech is a fantastic read and I enjoyed every second of it. I found the concept to be new and fresh. I loved the set up for the story and how the speech and debate program was used in delivering relevant messages as well. I loved how the whole plot hin
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-english, earc, teens
I received this book from NetGalley and Little, Brown books for young readers in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Sydney Williams knows how to be a loser. After her father was sent to prison for tax fraud, Sydney failed most of her classes and she was forced to move in a small apartment with her now divorced mother, who can barely afford their rent with her job at the mall.
Sydney hopes going to Eaganville will be a fresh start, but in her new high school ever
Dini - dinipandareads
Thanks to Netgalley and publisher for providing the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Also, special thanks to the FFBC for including me as part of the blog tour for this book. You can find my review and favourite quotes on my blog, link in bio!

War and Speech was such a treat to read! Amidst all the craziness going on right now, this humorous, mostly-lighthearted, surprisingly emotional YA contemporary was exactly what I needed in my life! The book had me in constant laughing f
Karsen Gromm
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
As a former speech teamer and coach, I was really excited to read this, but it was disappointing to say the least.

The characters felt incredibly one-dimensional, the themes weren't explored with the depth and nuance they deserved, and there was a constant slew of inaccuracies about speech team. Sydney's OO, performed in various different forms at state and nationals, doesn't even seem to qualify as an OO. It's more of an autobiographical DI. I could say more, but I won't go on about all the issu
Surbhi Sinha
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I have to be honest with you all. I picked this book solely because of it's title, I'm not even kidding when I say that I didn't even read the synopsis when I requested to be a part of this blog tour. "War and Speech" as the title suggests is all about a war waged by some misfit high school going teenagers against the egocentric speech team of their school. Not to mention the fact that I was expecting some amazing speech content to be a part of the story as well and the book DID NOT disappoint.

I was first introduced to Don’s writing through his debut novel, The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig (read my review here). I was struck by how hilarious he was, while pulling every other emotion out of me at the same time -- not an easy feat! While War and Speech wasn’t quite as bittersweet and emotional as TSTOAAC, the characters were just as funny, and also inspiring and badass.

Sydney has had a rough time in the past year: her father was sent to prison for tax evasion and other crimes, and s
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen-fic, high-school
This book made me pretty mad! Why? It got to the point where I started bookmarking pages.

*the cover. Why is the cover our main character with a bunch of tertiary characters behind her? Why aren’t her accomplices behind her? That’s the people we’re actually more attached to and it would make this book look less like it’s about a bunch of entitled white people.
*there were a couple times where I double checked if this book was written by a man (it was) because there are some unbelievable things tha
Renee Norris
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved War and Speech. Zolidis expertly creates unique voices for every character. Sydney's voice was so clear for me as I read and although each character may have seemed like heightened reality- I loved that the best. I teach high school and am raising teenagers and the characters and story were hightened just enough for me to escape reality while still finding so much to be relatable. Without making diversity statements in his writing- there is strong attention paid to honoring diversity. No ...more
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
[I received an electronic review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]

4.5 stars. This was fantastic!!! The writing is so sharp and so funny. Early on when the debate team kids hassle others in class, you can HEAR the rhythm of the debate in your head as you read. It was excellent. And I laughed so many times in this. The pop culture references are perfect, and the snark from Sydney's job was outstanding.

I have really strong opinions about re
Jenny Ashby
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE the voice of this narrator! She is exactly the right amount of sarcastic without being so harsh as to make me dislike her sass. And I totally want to buy any one of her cookies with whatever saying she wants to put on it. So, Sydney is wonderfully funny, caring and vengeful but she also finds her voice and grows over the course of the book. I love everything about her and her journey of coming to terms with her dad and opening up just a little to Luke. But in addition to Sydney, Zolidis h ...more
Maddy Pieronek
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Sydney, although brusque and slightly mean at some points in the book, is a fresh and relatable character who speaks her own witty mind. Her best friend, Lakshmi, is a fiercely protective and strong friend as well. Most females in this book have very strong and interesting personalities, which was fantastic. The whole plot really explained Speech and Debate; I never had understood the intricacies and the action involved before. The author shone a lot of light onto a sport that ...more
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
At 410 pages, I thought this was going to feel very long, but it went by pretty quickly. Sydney is funny. She's well adjusted, even as she goes through some difficult times with her mom, while her dad is in prison (for tax evasion) and she is starting at a new school.

I thought I could see where this was going from the beginning, but adding the little twist about half way through made this an original spin on an old trope. I feel like I was supposed to feel bad about Sydney and Lakshima's manipu
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book a lot! I'm a high school speech and debate coach, so I loved the inside humor. I can't wait to add it to my classroom library this fall; my students will love it.

I loved the voice of the protagonist. It's easy to visualize her, and I enjoyed watching her develop over the course of the story. I felt the dialogue was spot-on realistic. I hang around high school kids, and it felt natural. Some events were a little over-the-top, but it's fiction, and I easily went along for the r
Sam Caton
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Don Zolidis captures and speech/debate world in a way that few can!!! He takes a arts high school in minnesota and makes it your entire world in a just a few pages! Even if you are not from the speech and debate world you will get wrapped up in the drama, politics, and crazy humor of Eaganville! A must read!
Books, Tea, Healthy Me
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really loved War and Speech. There were more than a few times where I was sitting it even laughing out loud. As a former debate team member, it was fun to remember my days on stage and behind the podium. But if this is what debate team is like now, it's really changed!!

Thank you to NetGalley for my advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I wanted to keep reading this and never stop reading this, while also feeling unable to stop reading this and relieved that it ended (so I could engage in the rest of life again). And once I finished, I searched for more by Don Zolidis and put about eight books on hold because the library website suggested were similar.
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. Leave it to playwrights to write the best dialogue! This was one absurd, hilarious, and delightful read (and as a theatre kid, can I just say that speech and debate seems like a wild time hehe).
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'll be honest; I did not like the characters in this book, with the exception of Sydney's friends / fellow conspirators. And, by the end, I had sympathy for some of the villains, since Sydney and Co's scheme was so absolute. But, once I let go of the idea that I had to have someone to root for, I really enjoyed the massive conspiracy that they put together and how everything played out. It was a fun, fast read that dispensed its little pearls of motive very carefully, like an expert fisherman. ...more
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hysterical, heartfelt, and un-put-downable, with an incredibly compelling narrator, great character dynamics, and a heist-like plot. Definitely one of the funniest YA books I’ve ever read while also tackling tough topics (incarcerated parent, toxic/emotionally manipulative coaching).
Megan Jackson
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, contemporary
Irreverant, snarky, and occasionally a little too clever. Ultimately it's not super memorable for me, but I think that's ok. I'm a grown up. I can see teens still being into this.

Sydney moves to a new, hardcore arts high school after her former life collapses and her dad winds up in prison for tax fraud. After failing the first semester of her junior year, Sydney feels like she has nothing to lose, like she doesn't belong, and like she doesn't deserve anything good. She's always had a quick wit
Sarah Michele
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you were or are a speech & debate kid, you should read this. Don captures the culture of it very well AND creates a great cast of characters to surround Sydney. (My kid and I agree that she has actually competed ... in DI ... against a kid who is basically a Hanson clone, who is on a team whose coach is a less-evil Joey Sparks.)

My ONE quibble is that I wish we’d known the specifics of why Coach Sparks needed to be humiliated sooner.
Sunny Hashire
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing cover and even better book! It was comical, original, and lighthearted. I finished in two days and I would definitely recommend it to teens who are looking for a laugh or spunky characters!
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Pure FUN. Teenage caper with very likable characters.
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Originally from Wisconsin, Don Zolidis is a novelist and one of the most-produced playwrights in America.

His 102 published plays have received more than 12,000 productions and have appeared in every state and 64 countries.

His first novel, The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, will be published by Disney-Hyperion in October 2018.

He currently splits time between Texas and New York and aspires to o

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