Saturday, February 28, 2015

ARC Review: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

How to Win at High School
Author: Owen Matthews
Publication: HarperTeen (March 3, 2015)

Description: Adam Higgs is a loser, and he's not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers' weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam's popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School's honest picture of high school hierarchy combines with an over-the-top, adrenaline-charged story line, and Adam's rocket ride to the top of the social order (and his subsequent flameout) is by turns bawdy and sweetly emotional.

My Thoughts: HOW TO WIN AT HIGH SCHOOL shows the rise and fall of Adam Higgs. Adam is a self-proclaimed loser with the self-esteem to go with his perception. When he enters a new school as a junior, he decides that he wants to be part of the in-crowd. He wants to make his older brother Sam proud of him. His older brother was on his way to high school popularity when he was injured in a hockey accident and paralyzed. Now he's in a wheelchair and working at a donut shop.

Adam begins his rise to fame and fortune by starting a homework business. He'll do assignments for the in-crowd at $10 a page with a $20 bonus for an A. His business booms. In fact, it expands so quickly that he recruits other students as employees to help ease the load. But that isn't enough for Adam so he starts dealing booze and fake IDs. Pretty soon he has met a sophomore girl named Victoria who actually likes him and he's being invited to all the right parties. The he decides to start dealing pills and things start changing. He begins to use a lot of the product he's selling. He has the outward success that he always wanted but it costs. He isn't happy; he loses Victoria who can't deal with the drugs; he damages his relationship with his brother.

As I read the short chapters - most of which were less than a page long and several which were only a sentence - I could feel Adam spiraling out of control and getting farther and farther from what he really wanted out of life. I could also see that there had to be a major crash before he could find his way out of the life he had built.

The story was fascinating and fast-paced. I think it would also be best for older YAs because of the themes of the story.

Favorite Quote:
He's supposed to take Victoria out again on Saturday, and he has to visit Sam, too.

But Adam can't tell the gods he won't do their homework. Gods don't know the word no. It's not in their vocab.

And Adam isn't going to be the guy to teach it to them.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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