Book Review: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

How to Win at High School
Author: Owen Matthews
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Expected Release: March 3, 2015
Review Source: Harper Teen

Using Scarface as his guide to life, Adam Higgs is going from zero to high school hero.

Adam Higgs is a loser, and he’s not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate?

Adam searches for the A-listers’ weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam’s popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School’s honest portrayal of high school hierarchy is paired with an adrenaline-charged narrative and an over-the-top story line, creating a book that will appeal to guys, girls, and reluctant readers of every stripe. Adam’s rocket ride to the top of the social order and subsequent flameout is both emotionally resonant and laugh-out-loud funny.

Oh a teacher, I knew that what you were doing was wrong...but as a reader, I couldn't stop myself in cheering you on. What a fantastic book this was. First, it was in verse. My favorite! And second, it was both funny and sad at the same time! I was transported to a TV sitcom from my childhood (Dawson's Creek, Saved By the Bell, One Tree Hill) and I loved every minute!

There were so many things I LOVED about this book, I don't know where to start. Let's try the characters first. "You know them. and you don't know them." You know...the popular kids. All high schools have them. The ones everyone wants to be like and hope and pray that they will even look at you. Adam wants to be one of those kids. The way Adam describes them, though, you can pick out exactly who they were in your high school. For me, it was a guy named Casey and a girl named Katie. I wanted to date Casey and look like Katie. For Adam it was the same way. He wanted to fit in with the "gods and goddesses." The character's felt so real and seeing everything from Adam's POV made the story more real. You could see the struggles he had with being a good boyfriend to Victoria, or being a "god" himself.

I know a lot of people might think the plot of the story is unrealistic. What would make a guy do all of those things like steal tests, sell fake ID's and deal drugs for popularity. I see it all the time!! Even in middle school my students are doing drastic things for popularity. I wish that kids didn't have to resort to illegal things for people to like them, but sadly this happens all the time.

Overall, I thought the writing was spot on and the characters left me thinking about them for days. I can't wait for this book to come out so others can enjoy it as much as I did. I would recommend this for high school students because there is some scenes that younger students shouldn't know threesomes...

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