Review for How To Win At High School by Owen Matthews

How To Win At High School by Owen Matthews

TITLE: How To Win At High School
AUTHOR: Owen Matthews
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
PAGES: 528 pages
SOURCE: Publisher via Edelweiss
RATING: 4 bows

Adam Higgins is a loser. He’s a guy from the poor side of town with one friend and a sister who hates him. So when he starts at a new school, he is determined to make a name for himself. Using Scarface as a model, he comes up with a homework business that soon gets him in tight with the popular crowd. When homework isn’t enough, he gets into booze and fake IDs. Soon, Adam is in over his head. And he wonders what happens to his relationship with schools Gods & Goddesses if he can no longer hook them up with the things they need. One thing is for sure, this is not going to end well unless Adam can keep it together. Can he balance his businesses or will his multiple operations be his downfall?

Adam was a guy I could instantly sympathize with. Being alone isn’t easy, especially when you aren’t the loner type. I didn’t really understand the want to get in with the popular crowd, but it’s a common enough theme in YA that I can get behind the concept. The more popularity he gains, the less I liked him. If he could have stuck with the homework business, things would probably have turned out fine. He’s own grades would stay high because he has to know the material to write everyone elses’ papers and it wasn’t so much that he got overwhelmed. But adding the fake IDs and booze and then the possibility of drugs is a series problem. Not only are the others ones frowned on in high school, but they are completely illegal which leads to more serious ramifications if he gets caught. Plus, part of why he did this was to get a girlfriend (and get laid) and he succeeds in that area. Once he as the girlfriend and she starts wanting more time with him, you’d think he’d back off some of the businesses to enjoy some of the rewards, but he doesn’t. He just wants to keep climbing the ladder. I kinda wanted to slap him. I liked him a lot at the end. I liked how he mans up. I won’t say more than that.

The rest of the cast is interesting. You’ve got the uber selfish popular crowd, all of whom have their heads up their own asses. His sister is a bitch from the start, hating him for no apparent reason. He’s big brother is the only character I liked a lot. He’s smart and a hard worker. I also like his girlfriend for a while, but she seems a bit naive and that bugged me. It took her way too long to pickup on Adam’s businesses than it should have considering her intelligence level.

This novel is insanely readable. It’s written in short chapters with plain language. Matthews doesn’t mince words or make things overly flowery. He tells it bluntly like it is and I couldn’t get enough. From chapter one, I needed more. What idiotic thing was Adam going to next? Were the gods & goddesses going to accept Adam into their fold? Were they going to reject him? Exactly how badly is Adam going to crash and burn? I had a burning curiosity to find out.

Despite the fact that this doesn’t have a completely happy ending, it does end on a hopeful note. For those of you like me, who want a perfect ending, you won’t find it here. It took me a while to decide what to rate this because it’s not my normal desired ending and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I went with 4 stars because it was so insanely addictive and it is a bit hopeful. Adam learns a valuable lesson or two and the story wraps up in a very believable manner. This novel is like nothing I’ve read before. It does not fit into the normal YA categories. YA mafia drama? I don’t know what to label it. What I do know is that I will be keeping an eye out for what Owen Matthews writes next!

****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****

4 bows
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