We're accepting Susan's challenge, and committing to reading and reviewing books by and about people of color, during the month of August, and beyond. Accept the challenge, too! Bonus: Drawing for free books!
We're Kicking it off with a review of Played by Dana Davidson. It's Delish. ( I adore alliteration.)
When one of Ian's boys dares him to get plain-faced Kylie Winship to sleep with him in just three weeks, he thinks it'll be a breeze. Tall and fine, with honey-colored skin and eyes, Ian is used to getting what he wants from girls. And if he succeeds in playing Kylie, he'll be down with most popular crew in his high school. But this girl who everyone considers a nobody is turning out to be more surprising than he ever could have imagined.
When I think about the book Played, all I can think of is, real. This story feels like something that could have actually happened to me, or my friend, or a girl from my school. The basic synopsis doesn't feel new, but that isn't because I've read something like it. It's because this is a story we've heard a million times in everyday life. Seeing it from the inside, and placing yourself inside the characters' shoes is almost surreal. This was a quick read, with some depth. It was a realatable story and a warning.
Kylie Winship is definitely a likeable character. Unlike the Gossip Girls or Bella Swans of the world, you don't find yourself thinking, "This is completely illogical." I could see myself in Kylie's situation. I could see myself having the same thoughts. Her mind is wrapped up in something that all girls have experienced, infatuation. Sometimes she makes stupid mistakes, but they are stupid mistakes that I think most girls could find themselves making. They say wise people learn from the mistakes of others. Reading this novel, you can see Kylie's mistakes, and avoid them. I think this is what the author intended.
Ian Striver is the type of boy your parents are always warning you about. He's gorgeous, persuasive, and smooth. Too smooth. In a novel like Played, it's easy to hate a guy like Ian. He's trying to use a girl for his own personal gain. He doesn't care if he hurts her. All he cares about is what his friends think. But Ian is deeper than that. Reading the novel from his point of view, we see that he has an extreme need to be accepted, which I feel is related to his absentee-father issues. However, I feel that this relationship was not explored enough in the novel to make me excuse his actions.
Tracy and Dez, Kylie's best friends, are loyal and honest. They warn her about Ian's bad reputation and wily ways. Both of them, Dez especially, try to keep Kylie's head out of the clouds and remind her that she's only known Ian a short while. They are excellent friends to her throughout the novel, and their relationships are real and adorable to read about.
I have seriously found a new fictional crush in Terrance. We don't get enough face time with him in the novel, but when we do, we find that he is caring, compassionate, attentive, and sweet. He's totally prepared to be the kind of guy Ian isn't willing to be. I rooted for him the entire novel. Does Kylie end up with Terrance? With Ian? Someone else entirely? Alone? You'll have to read it for yourself.
The FBI, your standard popular male click, and the popular girls, were one-dimensional and annoying, just like they were meant to be. At one point we see a hint of something deeper: compassion from Tricia, a need to be accepted from Michael, but other than that they're your average jerks.
I found the relationships between parent and child in the novel especially fantastic. The relationships between Kylie and her mom and Ian and his mom were adorable, real, and even heart-warming, and the absentee fathers added some depth to the characters. I also found Kim, Ian's sister, down-to-earth, sensible, and very likeable.
Overall, this was a very good novel. It was easy to place myself in Kylie's shoes. More than once, I flung this novel down in anger at Ian. (Dramatic irony can be very frustrating.) It was a very good read.
Plot: 7/10 It's probably a story you've heard before in real life.
Character Development: 9/10
Writing: 9/10 It felt very real.
You can read the first chapter of Played here for free! Or you can buy it for as little as $3.50 off Amazon.