Rating: 5 STARS
It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.
Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?
I adored Winger. I loved Stand Off. I know some people practically detest Ryan Dean, I don’t think he’s misunderstood, I think you just like him or not, but I completely enjoy reading this funny, engaging, annoying, irritating, sometimes idiotic and always horny character.
This one wasn’t as impactful as Winger was, obviously, but it did had that same awesomeness that made me fall in love with the first book. These books have a subtle undertone of longing that is one of the things that captivated me in the first place, I think Andrew Smith explores that perfect mix between characters, plot and subjects and knows how to perfectly capture that specific hard, sad and unfair part of life. I cannot tell you enough how real his characters are, whether they are unleashing an army of giant grasshoppers or just dealing with normal life issues.
“…outside of Annie Altman I felt like I didn’t have a single true friend in the world, which made me miss Joey even more and made things worse at the same time too.”
I particularly loved that we see an evolution of Ryan Dean in Stand-Off without taking away the character’s essence, he seems more mature and more focused.
In Stand-Off Ryan Dean comes back to Pine Mountain to start his senior year, kind of unmotivated and emotionally detached, on top of that his new roommate Sam Abernathy aka the Abernathy is a funny, moving, uplifting, friendly and caring 12 year old boy (and the most adorable character ever). As Ryan Dean starts excluding him from his life more and more, he slowly realizes that the Abernathy is exactly what he need and wants.
I’m really thrilled that we’re getting another Winger book, Andrew Smith confirmed via his Twitter account, the third installment back in August of last year. See this Thirst For Fiction post! He also said there may be a middle grade series about Sam Abernathy too!
I don’t know about you, but a book about Ryan Dean West in college can be a bit scandalous, and I can’t wait for it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Grasshopper Jungle (2015 Michael L. Printz Honor, 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Carnegie Medal Longlist) and Winger. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. The Alex Crow, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.