Hi everyone! So I know I’ve already reviewed Winger by Andrew Smith, and that I’ve talked about it a lot in Tuesday Top Tens and it was this last week’s Fandom Friday, but I wanted to share a little more on it. Maybe you think I’m a little crazy, or biased, or I just need to stop pushing this book on everyone, but I don’t really want to stop. And one of the people that I kept pushing to read it was my boyfriend, and yes, I felt a sort of gratification when he enjoyed it as much as he did. I mean, I had to be like “I told you so!”. You would too. Now to pass along my genius and wonderful taste in books (haha!), I asked him to do his own review of Winger, so not only would you get another opinion on the novel, but it would be a guy’s perspective as well.
So without further ado, enjoy this review!
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.
Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
Here I am, once again, to add another wonderful contribution to whatanerdgirlsays. I am here to review Winger by Andrew Smith. Yes, it has already been reviewed on this site, and recently, was the focus of a Fandom Friday, so why another review? In simple terms, because the fearless leader asked for one. This book has been on my “to read” ever since Sara finished it and completely gushed over the book. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the highest on my list, but she kept pushing and eventually I did borrow the book, and quickly went through it and bought my own.
Winger is a straight coming-of-age story set in a co-ed boarding school in the pacific northwest of the United States, with no fantastic elements added, no one has any powers, and no one is the chosen anything. Winger’s protagonist, Ryan Dean West, is just as regular as a fourteen year old junior can be. Ryan Dean is truly what shines about this book. He is a regular teenager and a completely relatable character. He is funny, smart, but not pretentious, and with any good protagonist, makes a lot of mistakes to learn from. The way the story is written, we get to hear Ryan Dean’s thoughts and they are always hilarious and makes this character even more real and the reader attached to him. There are also drawings scattered throughout the book that enhance several parts of the story.
Winger also benefits from a strong supporting cast, with the most important supporting characters being Annie and Joey. Annie is Ryan Dean’s best friend and the girl he pines for but isn’t sure he can get. Their relationship is very dynamic with a lot of flirting and, of course, small arguments where they don’t talk to each other for a little while, and let’s be honest, any time you have a crush on someone and they disappoint you in some way, you don’t always want to talk to them, even though you do.
Joey is another strong developed character. He is a senior that lives in the same dorm as Ryan Dean and is on the rugby team with him as well. Joey is gay but he isn’t stereotyped in any way, he acts like and is treated the same as any guys on the rugby team. He is the occasional target of hate outside of the team, but he is more than capable of sticking up for himself and his team sticks up for him too. The interactions between Ryan Dean and Joey are always great, with Ryan Dean being slightly awkward at Joey’s sexuality, even though they become best friends.
My favorite thing about the book though is the writing, not just the great dynamics between Ryan Dean with himself and the rest of the cast. It is clear and concise with the chapters being no more than a few pages. This makes it so easy to get swept up in the book, especially when you tell yourself “one more chapter” and you look and the chapter following is only a few pages. The mood through most of the novel is light and humorous with some self-deprecation but the story also has its moments where it can leave you teary-eyed. Another positive for me was that it sticks to being a coming-of-age story. Yes it has elemnts of romance and a lot of comedy but the focus is never lost and we do see a very different Ryan Dean from the beginning of the story.
5 out of 5 stars.
I give this story a 5/5, if it was possible to give it a 6/5 or possibly a 7/5, I would but I’ll just to the standard score. This is a fantastically written book and deserving of all the accolades its received. It has a lot of humor with developed secondary characters and an incredibly realistic protagonist. If you are fans of John Green’s work, definitely pick this up. This book definitely deserves to be a staple of the genre and I eagerly anticipate Andrew Smith’s next novel.
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