Winger by Andrew Smith Book Review

Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. Due to a little rule breaking the semester before (he used a cell phone), Ryan Dean is now living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for all the troublemakers at Pine Mountain. Despite Ryan Dean's genius mind though, he is really just a regular teen. He is in love with his best friend Annie, always thinks about sex, plays Rugby, might be cheating with his roommates girlfriend, loves drawing comics, and thinks he may or may not be a total loser.

Contemporary YA is a genre that seems to cater to a mostly female audience. Of course, boys are reading, but they move into the realm of comics, sci-fi, and non-fiction. Winger is one of the few successful contemporary teen books that I have read as of late and I believe it is successful for two reasons. The first is simple, language. Ryan Dean is all boy. He speaks, thinks, and self-deprecates in a language that sometimes feels alien to this girl and yet I have the strong suspicion that boys will understand every moment. (after all, it is written by a guy) The second reason is far more complex. The story is not particularly action packed. There are very few rugby games, with the majority of the book centering around Ryan Dean's relationships with the girls and guys in his life. His constant pining after two girls, complicated friendships with his friends, and the struggle to be a friend with a guy who is openly gay. I think it works because it is funny. That's right, the humor is what makes this work and would, for some guys, be an interesting read. That being said, for those guys who just want non-stop action, they should probably head over to Ender's Game or The Maze Runner.

Interesting point, I noted a few reviews back that there are a lot of books coming out these days with gay characters. Sometimes it works for the story and at other times this is an abysmal failure. This is one of the books where it works.

Honestly, I had a hard time getting into this book. Another boarding school, another high school romance, but once I made it past the first chapter, I realized that this book had so much more to offer. So far I have read three separate Andrew Smith novels and I have to say, I am a fan.