Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Playing with Matches - Brian Katcher

Where I got it: From my collection
Rating: 4 stars  

Cover Rating: 4 stars (It would have been better if one side of the card was different from the other.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: July 8, 2008 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page Count: 294 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Leon isn't all that attractive and has a weird sense of humor, so it's no wonder he's never had a girlfriend. He has a small group of friends though that are just as weird as he is. He also has a huge crush on Amy, the most attractive girl in the school. He's had a crush on her since seventh grade, but can never seem to approach her to even talk with her. Then there's Melody. She had an accident when she was younger that left her with no ears, no nose and scars all over her face. She was always the butt of everyone's joke, but then Leon starts talking with her. He finds that once you get past the initial shock of her face, she's actually an amazing person. But Leon doesn't know if he should settle for Melody, what if her loses his chance with Amy. He's going to have to make a decision though and things may not turn out in his favor. He has to decide whether to follow his heart or his eyesight and figure out which one matters to him more.

Leon was a very real character most of the time. Sometimes he got a bit too mushy, for a boy who thinks about sex so much. I enjoyed him though, even if sometimes he acted like a world class idiot. It happens, the grass is always greener on the other side. Leon was funny in a cute dorky way. He told a lot of terrible joke but made some quite humorous observations. I think I would have hung out with him in school. Melody was another great character, and I loved seeing her grow throughout the novel. It's hard for her, and it always will be, but if she's a stronger person it will be easier. Dan was a really strange character, but played a pretty big role in the book. He was sort of a devil-worshiping Jiminy Cricket. He always put things in perspective for Leon, even when Leon wasn't expecting it. He was strange, but apparently really in touch with human emotion, though he seemed to lack it himself.

There was a strong message about judging from the outside, but it didn't real feel preachy. Things would have turned out differently if Leon was a smarter character who lamented about the error of his ways. Instead Brian Katcher wrote a different scenario, where everyone knows you shouldn't judge by looks, but Leon goes ahead and does it time and again. He fights with it, he doesn't want to, but he just can't get past her face when it counts.

I loved the atmosphere of Leon's friends, they were a rag-tag bunch of misfits, stuck together because they didn't want to find anyone else to hang out with. I enjoyed it. There was the atmosphere of fun, respect and understanding. It was a good group, even if they never talked about anything too deep.

This was a great novel from a perspective we don't often see. A boy stuck in the middle of a love triangle with two women. You always read about a girl trying to pick which boy she is destined for, but you rarely seem to find boys stuck in the same situation. Probably because boys are written to be very headstrong and always thinking with their second brain. It was nice to see Leon in a situation like this where he's torn between his heart and good-looks. I also really appreciated the ending. It was realistic. I realize some people will be quite disappointed with how it all turns out, but it was honest. Definitely try to pick this book up if you can it was funny and honest. What more can you ask for in a book?

First Line:
"'So I was reading this Vonnegut novel,' I said to Samantha."

Favorite Line:
"He was bigger than me and had a face like an angry gorilla."

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't have guess that this was YA from the cover but I'm really glad you reviewed it. It is unusual for the guy to be the one stuck in a love-triangle and I really felt for Melody, she sounds like a character I want to get to know. Great review, Britt!


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