Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Review: "Whatever.: Or how junior year became totally f$@cked" by S.J. Goslee

I guess it was only a matter of time before the high school stoner comedy genre got a little more depth. S.J. Goslee's Whatever. is just like your favorite pothead—it makes you laugh and roll your eyes sometimes, you get a little frustrated, but in the end, you enjoy spending time with it, and even think it's pretty sweet.

Mike Tate is about to start his junior year of high school. He has a great group of friends, with whom he plays music in a crappy band, drinks beer, watches one of them attempt one crazy stunt after another, and spends a lot of time getting stoned. He's known his girlfriend, Lisa, for a long time, and she's more like his best friend than his girlfriend a lot of the time. (So what if he doesn't know what to do with her boobs?) But still, he's totally surprised when she breaks up with him and says they were never really dating anyway, and he's even more surprised when she tells him why she broke up with him.

Suddenly Mike finds himself in completely new territory. He's not sure about what he's feeling, or how his friends and family will react. Because Lisa has suckered him into running for vice president of his class, he's now in the midst of student government—and even worse, homecoming. He's even been nominated to the homecoming court. Why can't things just go back to normal. And more importantly, why is Rook Wallace, who terrorized him when they were younger, suddenly smiling at him all the time? Is he trying to subdue him so he can attack him when he least expects it?

Whatever. is about coming to terms with who you are for perhaps the first time in your life, which may feel uncomfortable or strange. It's about friendship, infatuation, confusion, man crushes, fear, and love, as well as a healthy dose of mischief and stupid stunts. And it's about saying the things you want to say even if you're afraid to, even if not everyone will like what you have to say.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and thought it was sweet and funny and thought-provoking. Although I liked Mike's character, and thought that he had a good heart, at times he frustrated me because of the things he didn't say (as well as some of the things he said and did), but I know so many of his actions were realistic. While there isn't much surprising in this book (there were a few things I thought might happen, but they didn't), it's still a tremendously appealing story, and it definitely took me back to my high school days, where fun, confusion, and insecurity reigned equally.

Goslee really captured the teenage voice well, particularly those of teenage boys. This book is just another example of how far YA fiction has come since I was young (there really wasn't any beyond The Hardy Boys back then), and how much the world has changed for the better.

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