Friday, July 6, 2012

Lucky Fools by Coert Voorhees

Book:  Lucky Fools
Author:  Coert Voorhees
Publisher:  Hyperion
Date:  July 10, 2012
Source:  publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B+
David Ellison dreams of acting at Juilliard, but he's expected to attend nearby Stanford University, just like all of his classmates at hard-driving Oak Fields Prep. As if wasting his private school education weren't enough, David is also on track to destroy his relationship with his girlfriend, Ellen, when he finds himself falling for his new co-star, Vanessa. 
With David's Juilliard audition approaching, and his relationship teetering on the brink of disaster, Oak Fields is thrown into chaos as a mysterious prankster begins attacking the school's highest achievers, determined to sabotage their college aspirations. Anyone who excels is a potential target, and David, the star of every play, could be next.
From the author of the highly praised The Brothers Torres comes a dangerously insightful book about enduring the pressures of high school, surviving the ins and outs of love, and fighting for your dreams, no matter what.

Initial impression
Dude!  That was way more substantial than I thought it would be.
Title and Cover
I'm still not sure where the title came from, but it doesn’t bother me.  I like the cover a lot.  There are so many girl in dress covers out there that this one was a refreshing change.  And the guy loosening the tie sort of fits in to the whole “what am I doing with my life” sort of feel.  It works.
Plot, characters, etc.
I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.  Well, let me back up.  I thought this book would be some light, fluffy read about a boy who wants to go to Juilliard, but his parents are against it but in the end, it all works out and everyone realizes that he will be the next Johnny Depp....or something like that.
No, this book was NOT that.  This book was about a 17 year old boy who ends up doing a huge amount of soul-searching and questioning.  This book is the embodiment of Eric Erikson’s Theory of Adolescent Self-Actualization!  For reals.  
I liked David, a lot.  Not because he was perfect, but because he was realistic.  He seemed like a real 17 year old boy.  He did some stupid things and he was confused and he had no idea what he wanted in life and yet, he was somehow supposed to have it all figured out.  He did something that he thought he enjoyed, he was easily distracted by a new pretty face, even though he still cared for his girlfriend and he was basically a big, hot mess.  As a high school teacher, I’m pretty familiar with that character because it describes most of the senior boys that I teach every day.
This book was about David’s voyage of self-discovery.  He is so used to being told what he should do by others eg. his parents, his girlfriend and other students that he has never really been able to figure it out for himself.  He is sort of drifting along until things start to come together in ways that force him to act on something.  
The secondary characters were good in this book as well.  They were real too.  There’s the jock, the smart girls, the theatre geeks, the weirdo loner.  The whole cast of high school characters are there.  It’s cliche, but that’s because those are the groups that you find in any high school.  I think the author did a good job of representing those groups without dipping into the cliches a whole lot.  It worked.
There really wasn’t a lot going on in the plot.  There’s the play and there’s the Artist, who keeps posting collages about random people in the school, revealing sordid secrets that they have, but that is really a sideline plot.  In fact, it almost felt distracting to me.  Because the real crux of this story is David’s painful growth throughout the book.
It’s funny that, even though the plot was fairly mundane, I found that I didn’t want to put the book down.  David’s voice was fun to read and I kept wondering what stupid thing he might do next and just how he was going to manage to get himself out of the whole mess he created with his life.  And happily, the author did NOT give up a rainbows and unicorns ending where everyone lived happily ever after.  He gave us a realistic ending, and when I closed the book, I felt like David was a little more mature, but still have room to grow.  Which is where a 17-18 year old boy should be.  Kudos to the author for making that real.
So why a B+?  I’m not really sure myself.  I guess it’s just that when I closed the book, I felt like I liked the book, but I wasn’t going gaga over it.  ::shrugs::  So a B+ puts it above average for sure, but it isn’t one of those books that made me want to go fangirl.  However, it was a good read that was quick and it made me think, so I’m happy about it.
This one was fun!  Since David is a theatre geek, this song seemed perfect for this book.

Seasons of Love by the original cast of Rent
Let Me Go by Three Doors Down 
Some Day by Shinedown

There are parts of this song that feel like they were written just for this book.

The final grade
My grade for this book is a B+.  It was a really good book and it was very realistic.  It made me stop and think and it made me happy that there are authors who seem to completely “get” what it means to be a teen boy.  This book will especially appeal to teens who are involved the arts.  If you are looking for a quick but thoughtful read, pick up Lucky Fools.
Thank you to Hyperion and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my honest review, not even a pair of theatre tickets.

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