Stevie, Max, and Sanger: keeping Austin weird.
Stevie Hart is homeschooled, but don’t hold that against her. Sure, she and her best (okay, only) friend, Sanger, will never be prom queens, but that’s just because the Central Austin Homeschool Cooperative doesn’t believe in proms. Or dancing. Still, Stevie and Sanger know how to create their own brand of fun.
Enter Max Garza, the new boy next door. After a near-fatal accident, Max is determined to defy mortality with a checklist: 23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying. Dead set on carrying out fabricated demises ranging from impalement to spontaneous combustion, Max charms Stevie and Sanger into helping him with this two-month macabre mission. But as Stevie finds herself falling for Max, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line between his make-believe deaths and her real life.
First of all, I wanted to say sorry because we haven’t posted anything since April. I don’t know about Kalee, but I really have no excuses for that except . . . I’m lazy? Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Sorry :)
Anyway, onto the review! This was kind of an insane book, which is partly why I picked it up at the bookstore. All the characters were super weird in their own endearing little ways, and the premise was . . . weird. In a good way. But still weird.
Let’s start with the main character, Stevie.
Oh, Stevie. Adorable, emotional, judgy little Stevie. Sometimes I wanted to rip out all of my hair and scream into your face, but most of the time I just thought maybe you needed a hug. These were a tough couple of months for you, huh?
No spoilers, but the stuff that happens in this book really puts Stevie through the wringer. She’s homeschooled, which, while not really the focus of the book, is an interesting premise that I haven’t really read too much about in the past. She’s also kind of an activist and kind of not. It’s complicated. What else? Let’s see . . . she likes putting people into boxes and firmly sticking little labels on them--”Blue Jean Jumper” and “Last-Chance Charlies,” among others, are her preferred labels for the different “types” of homeschooled kids. Throughout much of the book, she’s blissfully unaware of her judginess, which kind of drives me crazy. On the other hand, though, she’s cute and funny and fiercely loyal to those she loves--which brings me to our next topic: Sanger.
Sanger is Stevie’s best friend, and they’re basically in love with each other. Sanger would do anything for Stevie, and vice versa, almost to the point where they’re too dependent on each other. I loved it, though, and I seriously wish that Sanger existed in real life. She’s thoroughly entertaining, proud to a fault, and seems to be good at pretty much everything except expressing her feelings in a healthy, productive way. She also goes through quite a bit during the course of the book--I think she might show up more than the actual love interest, which is a nice change of pace--and she doesn’t always handle it well. Still, she’s a great friend and a really caring person underneath all of her bluster.
Max, aka Death List Boy, kind of caught me off guard. He’s weird and sort of morbid, but at the same time, he’s really sweet and funny and endearing when he wants to be.
“It’s such an insane story,” said Sanger. “Have you thought about writing a memoir?”
“Oh!” Max said, doing that thing where he spreads his arms wide, like a bird taking wing. “It is in the works. I’ve penned the first chapter already. It starts with a premonitory nightmare I had as a three-year-old.”
“I don’t even know if you’re joking, Max,” said Sanger, “and that is what I love about you.”
The whole death list thing is super weird, and he has his reasons, but it’s still weird. No question. Nevertheless, he and Stevie complement each other really well, even though they got off to a somewhat rocky start. I mean, he’s weird; she’s weird. He’s kind of messed up, and so is she. They’ve both had a fair amount of trauma in their lives, which gives them a bit of understanding of each other that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
In the end, despite the strange premise, I really liked this book--enough to reread it a few times, even. And, to give you a taste of the book’s awesomeness, I’ll leave you with another excerpt:
“All my other friends tell me you’re bad for me. I should listen.”
“I am your only friend.”
“See what you’re doing? Classic. You isolate me, like a wolf picking off the weakest baby seal, then taking it to a secluded spot and being all, ‘You don’t have any other friend like me, baby seal. Time to die.’”
“In what universe do wolves prey on seals?”
“You’re just fact-checking because you have no comeback to my most excellent analogy.”
“Your analogy sucks.”
“Speaking of which, I’ve got this great joke. Ready for it? Ahem. A seal walks into a club.”
“. . .”
“Get it? Get it?”
Aaaand scene. *Cue the applause*
Wasn’t that great? It was great! . . . well, anyway, thanks for reading! You’re the best; mwah, mwah, ladidadida!
‘Til next time,
P.S. I just wanted to add that Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up once again! It’ll be happening this July, and . . . yeah, I won’t force you to read another lengthy explanation of the whole thing. However, if you do want to read a lengthy, sort of confusing explanation of the whole thing, you can find it here. Okay, bye again! Thanks so much!