Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: Sway by Kat Spears

Title: Sway
Author: Kat Spears
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: 16 September, 2014
Source: St Martin's Griffin via NetGalley

In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.
Review by Nara

Man, am I glad they changed the cover of Sway from the ugly stock photo looking cover to this pretty one, because otherwise I would have completely dismissed it. Yeah, yeah, don't judge books by their covers. It's not like anyone follows that "rule" anyway. In any case, I must say that even this cover doesn't quite capture the essence of the book. It's a bit too...summery. Makes it seem too much like a cutesy romance. I can tell you now that that's really nothing like what this book actually is.

Despite seeing Kayla's (basically my book twin) 5 star rating for the book, I still wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book. I was almost more wary because she gave it 5 stars, and I didn't want to disappoint myself. Well, I don't know why I doubted, because Sway was awesome.

This may sounds strange, but I actually quite liked how the protagonist, Jesse, was unashamedly flawed. The way he treats the love interest's brother, Pete, who is suffering from cerebral palsy, is somewhat despicable at times, but at the same time, that sort of treatment is exactly what Pete needs. After a lifetime of being treated as "special", Pete really just wants to be treated like anyone else- something that Jesse gives him (although with accompanying brutal honesty).

Jesse is also attempting to recover from a tragic even that occurred a year ago, and in doing so, believes himself undeserving of love and makes himself cold and distant. This made the romance rather...interesting. I was actually quite glad that the romance is a minor aspect of the book. It's really more about Jesse himself, and his slow recovery, one aspect of which is through his friendship with Pete.

I feel like this is the sort of potential Anatomy of a Misfit could have lived up to, had that book been more careful with the balance between insulting and humorous. All in all, a snarky and somewhat manipulative anti-hero's journey to emotional recovery. Definitely recommended.

Really liked it

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5