Review: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

Sunday, 16 August 2015
How to Win at High School, by Owen Matthews
Publication: March 3, 2015, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 528
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

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. 

My Thoughts:

How to win at high school? By being who you are and not trying to gain some awful social status and hookup with an endless amount of people. I apologize for sounding cheesy and all, but this is Owen Matthews' message after looking at it all. How to Win at High School was a unique read that every teenager in high school should pick up as their guide to ruling school and their lives, and most of all—being happy. Positive vibes are the only things that can help us out!

I personally adored every bit of the story from start to finish. Matthews' writing is fresh, abstract to other contemporaries and his own. I've never read a book with quite a broad subject matter and it must've taken so much research to put together. I would never have come up with such a storyline as he did. Like male perspectives? I know I do, because YA doesn't seem to feature enough of them. Adam's viewpoint is kind of ew-ish, but his character was interesting to read about anyways.

"Real talk? High school is hard. It's hard for everyone. It's especially hard when you're the kid nobody likes, when you're getting your ass kicked by some Neanderthal every day, when you can't get a date to save your life." (Hardcover, page 21)

Although he may have not seen it, Adam Higgs was a positive person. I guess that he and the other teenagers attending Nixon High believe that popularity gives you a key card to another world of happiness. Extra stuff that'll brighten your experience and make it memorable—drugs, alcohol, partying, hookups, sex. I'm a teenager too, and looking at this experience just makes me want to pound my head hard on a desk, you know? Today's urban society of teens can be so gullible to do things that won't even matter in ten, twenty years. Will someone actually remember you for your social status? If you were a cheerleader and a goddess in your school? Hell no. I don't know much because I'm young, but Adam's experience seriously can teach a life lesson to everyone. He believed so much, coming from everyone including his older brother who did have that key card without even trying. It doesn't matter. Period.

Adam Higgs has just began school at Nixon High as a junior. He's always lived in the area, but went to another school for random reasons. His goal is to become known, popular too. He wants to be a god, higher than the hottest guy at school. When his chance comes up to do the popular people's homework and get paid for it, he takes the chance which eventually leads him to parties, girls, drugs, alcohol and having the time of his life. He now even has a freshman girlfriend who seems to be his most favourite person in the world. Obviously things can go too far, and then we'll all see what'll happen.

Adam had real high hopes. He had this ultimate plan that made him from Pizza Man, working at his local Pizza Hut, to the god king guy in his school. Why the hell does he want to do this, you ask. POPULARITY AND THE CHANCE TO BE KNOWN. I just want to face palm myself for this guy's stupidity and his decision-making skills (which were horrible), but at the same time this is so relatable. If you have no friends, what choice do you have to make to get a few? You'll have to do something because in high school, people don't usually come up to you if they're already fine and doing well. I could relate to Adam, because I was in his situation a few times (but not in the popularity homework-cash stuff). It's not easy being a teenager, that's the perfect catchphrase that this book needs on its cover.

"So how do you take over a high school? (Take over? Sounds violent. Invasive. Destructive connotations. Let's rephrase: How do you win at high school?) Winning. Like an Xbox game: Unlocking achievements. Racking up a high score. Attaining god mode. Basically becoming THE MAN. Winning." (Hardcover, page 29)

As you can see from above, Adam already had goals from page 29, the beginning of this extra-long novel that was written in the coolest format. The 'chapters' are basically one or two pages long at the minimum and there's 371 of them. Talk about awesomeness and lots of paper, right? The writing was fantabulous and I'd personally read anything that Matthews writes for YA fiction. After reading that this took more than ten years to write, I was completely shocked but realized how tough of a journey it is to head into the mind of a teenager who wants to change his social status and life, basically. Owen creates so many character relationships, whether it's real friendship or fake. 

From the looks of it, Adam should definitely stay in more. Stay tuned for explicit language, drinking and heavy partying. I felt so much sympathy for Adam's brother, Sam, who actually got thrown a party but he hated it anyways. MONEY DOESN'T BUY YOU ANYTHING, for Sam's sake. If Adam kept doing at what he was doing with his horrible decision-making skills, he'd turn into a drug lord by twenty. I'm so surprised that the stupid dude didn't get caught for everything and only got that small punishment of heading to another school. Nice job, Pizza Man.

Victoria and Adam were adorable, but for some reason I kept thinking about how young they were and what their goals were. Victoria was 14 or 15 years old at the time when they were dating and Adam already had some goals of what he'd like to achieve when being with her. It's kind of immature and disgusting, if you ask me. (But that obviously didn't affect my thoughts of the novel at all. Zero.) I love the friendship they had even after things turned to a bad end. Victoria's one of those girls that you need in your posse after a horrible breakup. She'll come running to you with twenty tissue boxes. The ones filled with lotion, too.

Want to stay up past your bedtime with an exciting, riveting read? This is your match, whether you'll need it as a life guide or not. Matthews' teenage voice and group of teenagers battling high school will leave you never forgetting their names and wanting to sign a petition for more YA by him. Actually, let's do it. I'll be the first person to sign. *winks* More people should definitely give this one a try because there's no way that you'll be disappointed. How could you be? It's such a winner.

I love these kind of guide helpful YA contemporaries. Are there any others that you can think of?

No comments :

Post a Comment

I love comments, I always read them, they always make my day and help me improve my posts. Thank you!