Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach

Title: Nothing Special (Stupid Fast #2)
Author: Geoff Herbach
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: May 1st 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley - thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing a free eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Felton Reinstein thought he had it all-a great girlfriend, an athletic scholarship in the bag, and football friends he could totally count on. Wrong! Like an elephant storming a house of cards, it all comes crashing down. And it's Felton's fault. Turns out his little brother has taken an impromptu road trip to Florida (aka desperate flight from all the talented people) to make a bid for stardom (aka fronting a hotel rock band with escapees from a retirement community). What's a big brother to do but help pick up the pieces, even if it means giving up all the status, all the glory and once again facing a life of nothing special.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I loved Stupid Fast, so I was really excited to read Nothing Special. But I honestly didn't remember all that much about Stupid Fast (not the book's fault, I just have the worst memory - which is why I'm not a huge fan of series), so I was still a little wary about reading Nothing Special. But not remembering all that much didn't turn out to be a problem - I think you could even read this book without having read Stupid Fast, since it works as a stand-alone. Not that I'd advise you to read a series out of order, but still.

Nothing Special was a little hard for me to get into, because of the unusual format. The whole novel is written as a letter from Felton to Aleah, Felton telling Aleah everything that happened this summer and also what is happening to him right now, while he's writing the letter. I found that whole idea kind of strange, at first, since I didn't get why this book would be written in letter format when the first one in the series isn't, and because it's confusing at times, switching back and forth between past and present. After a while, though, I really liked the format - it's unique and gives a different perspective to Felton's character.

I loved the humor in Stupid Fast, and it's just as good in Nothing Special. Felton's character is hilarious - his voice is so real, and his self-deprecating style just makes everything funny. The whole style and setup are hilarious - for example, when Felton is telling Aleah/readers about something that happened this summer, he'll just start talking about what's happening right now, how someone is reading over his shoulder what he's writing, and they sort of have a conversation like that. I can't explain it, but the setup causes for some seriously funny situations.

What I loved most about Stupid Fast, though, was how incorporates both humor and tragedy so well - how it's both funny and heartbreaking. And sadly, I found the emotional intensity I enjoyed in Stupid Fast lacking in Nothing Special. I just didn't feel it as much, and Nothing Special didn't make me cry like Stupid Fast did.

As for the plot, I really liked all the original ideas in Nothing Special. Andrew is an interesting character, and I'm glad we got to know more about him. I like how much of the story focuses on the unique family dynamics - I just love when family plays an important role in a YA book. I liked the romance, too - it's not mentioned directly all that often and isn't really part of the story, but since Felton is writing to Aleah, we got to know more about their relationship, too. I liked all the subtleties about Felton's feelings for Aleah.

Also, there's a quote from my review of Stupid Fast on the back of Nothing Special, which made me ridiculously happy - I feel so important!

I didn't like Nothing Special quite as much as Stupid Fast, but I did enjoy it, and I think it's a good addition to Felton's story. With an authentic voice, unique family dynamics, and subtle, fresh humor, this is a series I think will appeal to a wide range of readers - maybe even some reluctant boy readers! (I think I might make my brother read these books in a year or two!)

If you've read this book, what did you think?


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