A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.
Ryan Dean West is a 14-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.
Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
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Sporty-Dead Poets Society
- Amy "I love to read and listen to books. I teach and share my love with my teenager and I'd like to share that love with you."
This is your parents' YA novel.
Where to start? I gave this book 3 hours of my life before I gave up on it. It sounds like it was written by a 50 year old man imitating slang that was popular in the 80's. The book is peppered with such current phrases as " smokin' hot" and "gee, thanks," with a generous helping of the F-word to make it sound "edgy."
The characters come off as contrived and dull. The fact that you can clearly see what the author is aspiring to with his main character Ryan Dean makes this effort even sadder. He was supposed to be witty, slightly eccentric, and charming in an underdog sort of way. He is none of these things. His inner thoughts are completely banal, punctuated by off-kilter metaphors that only ring true about 10% of the time, and his melodramatic descriptions of minor events are grating.
The female characters are ridiculous, and the way the main character interacts with them is even worse. Every female character is described by her physical appearance nearly every. time. they. talk. How many times is the reader going to be interesting in hearing that Annie is smoking hot? And that other girl over there is "crazy hot." And that third one is "smoking hot in a mustachioed kind of way." And oh, yet another is sexy in a "that lady cop who arrested me in Boston" sort of way (what a unique stream-of-consciousness-style description you've got there! What originality!). It goes on and on. We also get an earful when Ryan Dean comes across a woman who offends him by not being attractive. God forbid a woman above the age of 35 passes in front of his impressionable eyes!
The fact that this uninspiring, self-indulgent novel is in the young adult genre is not an excuse. There are plenty of more sophisticated, original, evocative offerings in the genre. I've read and enjoyed YA books before (Speak, The Hunger Games, etc.). I've read and not enjoyed YA books before while understanding that my 14 year old self would have liked them just fine. But this book…I cannot comprehend anyone of any age finding it impressive in any regard. Some might be able to stomach (not enjoy it, stomach it) Winger as a trashy summer read, but I can't think of anything praise-worthy in this mediocre journey through boarding school.
I am 22, and while I am a couple years out of YA's target demographic, I'm not so far out of high school to have forgotten what teenagers like and don't like. In the end, this book is full of things that young people (and hey, humans in general) hate. Posers. Being talked down to. Middle-aged men adding swearing to their bland fiction because they think that is all that gets young people interested. Cut the gimmicks and give me something that has some truth or emotion or insight.
I feel a bit guilty about making the first review of this book on Audible an admittedly nasty one, so I'll give the author of Winger this: he has two 5 star reviews on Amazon. At least we know that he has friends.