Winger by Andrew Smith

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Winger by Andrew Smith

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Category: Teens
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Hugely disappointing with flat characters and none of the flair shown in Smith's wonderful Grasshopper Jungle.
Buy? No Borrow? No
Pages: 448 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0141354743

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Fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West is at boarding school. His roommate is a bully, his closest male friends are idiots, and his best friend is an older girl he's madly in love with who doesn't seem to see him in the same way. But this could be a year that changes everything for him.

I don't get this. At all. I don't see how the same mind that created the breathtakingly, brilliantly, beguiling Grasshopper Jungle could have come up with this book. And I definitely don't see why so many people are finding this one so great. Where Grasshopper Jungle had style, flair and humour, this has leaden prose, dull characters, and the only thing to laugh at is the idea that anyone could find Ryan Dean attractive when he has all the personality of a rugby ball. That said, nearly all of the other characters are dreadfully boring as well, with perhaps the only one I found reasonably convincing to be Ryan Dean's gay friend Joey, so maybe everyone deserves each other.

In addition, so many little things about this book were hugely irritating - I'm not sure whether the worst offender was Ryan Dean's constant babbling about not swearing, in between swearing, or his quotes of things people said to him only to follow up with the real version of what they said. I forced myself to read through it to the end simply because I loved Grasshopper Jungle so much that I thought it had to get better, but it didn't. The ending is one which some may describe as powerful but it's so rushed - especially considering the massive length of the book, which goes on for nearly 400 pages before we really get to anything interesting happening - and so obvious when it finally arrives, that it's difficult to feel any emotion about it.

On the plus side, I liked the comic strips. Overall, though, not the worst book of the year so far but, given the amount of great reviews I've seen and just how amazing I found Grasshopper Jungle to be, almost certainly the most disappointing.

I think that you should definitely try Smith's other much-praised novel, Grasshopper Jungle. For more about boys coming of age, I'd recommend Geekhood: Mission Improbable by Andy Robb and Boys Don't Knit by T S Easton.

Buy Winger by Andrew Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Winger by Andrew Smith at

Buy Winger by Andrew Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Winger by Andrew Smith at


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