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review 2017-09-15 00:40
Stand-off (Review)
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

I am finally reviewing a book I actually read this year! However… I finished it in May, so here’s to the (almost) last shorter-than-normal review. I borrowed a copy of this book from a teacher, so I don’t have any notes or ability to flip back through it and remember my thoughts better; I’ll still give this my best effort at detail, though!


As you may remember, Winger was one of my favorite books. It’s not a book that someone like me typically goes for as Ryan Dean West is not typically the type of character I enjoy reading. However, something about Andrew Smith’s ability to craft him as this realistic, perfectly imperfect guy just struck a chord with me. Winger also ripped my heart out unexpectedly, which always scores points with me.


When I discovered that Winger had a sequel, I had to read it right away. Fortunately, the teacher I was working with let me borrow it, and I got to reading right away. I got through the first third no problem, but then it took me several months to pick it up again. When I finally did, I binged the last part in a day or two. I worried that I had outgrown Ryan Dean, but I was delighted to discover that Andrew Smith still had the ability to make me laugh out loud and cry within mere pages of each other.


Stand-off explores a lot of themes related to grief and especially avoiding grief. Ryan Dean goes through a lot of things he can’t quite explain, and this book is about him trying to understand himself again and dealing with the fact that he doesn’t want to be miserable for the rest of his life. I completely empathize with NATE (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) because I experienced the same thing after one of my friends passed away in high school. I thought this novel was excellently crafted, and it is a great follow-up to Winger. However, it lacked the same sparkle, and I found myself missing that all-encompassing enthusiasm for the book. It had an overly-satisfying ending, in that everything wrapped up with a pretty, little bow, and the resolution seemed forced to me. After the unexpectedly world-shattering ending of Winger, I could have stood an ending less-than-ideal than this one. It felt like Smith really wanted to end this story, and he wrote out a resolution that would leave no room for speculation or further wondering. I loved the ending of Winger without the idea of a sequel, so having a sequel that perfectly wrapped up the story I’d loved so much was fairly disappointing.


Overall: As with Winger, I don’t recommend this to younger readers. Ryan Dean West may be fifteen years old, but I doubt I’d let my kid read it at fifteen. Use discretion because there is a lot of language and Ryan Dean West is a teenage boy who thinks like a teenage boy, but, unlike how I usually feel, it all contributes to the characters and the story overall. Stand-off wasn’t as brilliant as Winger, but it’s still worth reading if you loved the first book.


Read the review on my blog:


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text 2017-05-10 00:31
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

My relationship with reading has been totally off the rails, I must admit... I binged the first third of this book in one day, then left it alone for almost a month, then binged the last two-thirds between yesterday and this afternoon. The weather has been super nice here in the last couple days, so I got a nice sunburn by reading on my back porch yesterday, hahah.


Anyway, Stand-off was not quite the masterpiece that Winger was, but it still did an excellent job of continuing the story. It's not nearly as gut-wrenching, and you're left feeling pretty satisfied with the ways things turn out. I think my biggest complaint is that the ending (pretty happily-ever-after-esque) felt a tad bit forced, so I didn't quite believe in it. However, Ryan Dean did not disappoint as a narrator, and he was as witty and outrightly honest as he always has been.


Overall, I really enjoyed Stand-off, but I'm not sure it's one I would reread. I would go back to Winger again in a heartbeat, but this one didn't have that same pull to it. 

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text 2017-04-01 01:55
105 of 401 (26%)
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

Holy cow. It's been awhile since I read Winger, and I worried that maybe I would have outgrown Ryan Dean's absurd narration. Note: I have outgrown nothing, and he still has me laughing out loud.


Andrew Smith has created such a unique character with Ryan Dean, and I am so thrilled to find the changes in his character since the events of Winger. I've already laughed out loud AND cried (within about five minutes of each other), which is always a good sign. I'm so excited to see where this goes and to finally be back into reading!


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-06-15 00:00
Winger - Andrew Smith Cultivating The Next Generation of Bros

I didn't think this would be the book for me but it was free on RivetedLit.com and gave it a shot. I was bored, couldn't write, and it didn't sound bad, just not my typical fare. Male protagonists are rare in my read list so I figured I could branch out and kill two birds with one stone.

I should have stopped while I was ahead.
Staring at the ceiling would've been a better way to spend my time.

But did I? No. Now I'm pissed.

First, I don't really care about the rest of the book. It's blah. It's a whiny little baby boy complaining about girls and making a disgusting ass of himself. For whatever reason, his dreams come true. Especially his wet dreams.

His life is soooo awful, except being super rich, unaffected by his parent's being checked out, a genius, a star rugby player, has popular friends, girls want him and thinks he's a loser despite ALL of this.

Zero self-awareness which is typical of 14 year olds. If they're not taught better. Winger propagates privileged white male angst by ignoring what he's lucky for and his quest to be a man teaches him nothing except how to ask his dream girl out and stop making out with another guy's girlfriend. And being a perv is cool, girls secretly love it.

How about no?

Also, that dude on the cover? So not what Ryan Dean's claims to be. If he looks like THAT, he can't even claim the skinny, ugly kid card.

Sadly, I'm used to such bullshit so I rolled my eyes and continued on. Maybe he would change? Girlfriend, no. Instead, it got worse.

Punish The Gays & Teach The Sexist Pig A Lesson

Joey the rugby team captain is gay. He came out last year and everyone's cool with it. Except one douche. I'll talk more about him later. There's also apparently "a lot" of guys that are gay at this school but on the down low apparently.

Joey's perfect guy and not a gay stereotype except Have I Mentioned I Am Gay? Basically, Ryan Dean goes on and on about Joey being gay and he's totes cool with it (no, really really) but we don't get to see Joey express his sexuality as a gay teen.

Most of the book is little melodramatic BS but there's gotta be something real to teach the boys a lesson.

So how about...homophobic assholes come from somewhere else to attack Joey. Yeah, that's great and have another dude injured in saving him because no-homo bromance.

But that's still not enough to make Ryan grow up. So we have the homophobic douche who's really a closet case beat Joey to death on the best night of Ryan Dean's young life.

Ryan Dean goes silent afterwards, finds a second home at Annie's house, and learns an important life lessons.

Bury Your Gays.

Girl on girl actions is great, especially a threesome but lesbians and bisexuals don't exist.

The world revolves around his dick.

Ryan Dean's on his way to being a great bro.

Suggested Reading:

The whole article is fantastic and everyone should read it. But here's the most pertinent part I want to quote because...well, you'll see.

What Led to Lexa: A Look At The History of Media Burying Its Gays

And that is, of course, your right. No one is saying that an artist shouldn’t be allowed to kill a gay or lesbian character. I want to make that clear, since whenever any piece of media is criticized at any time for any reason, the immediate response from someone on the internet is to call it censorship. What I’m saying is that pretending your work exists outside of trends or political context is disingenuous.

Even created with the best of intentions, no piece of art exists in a vacuum. Everything is influenced by the context it is both created in and consumed in, which is why every piece of media is unavoidably political. And every piece of media, no matter how well-intentioned, is going to be part of a trend. The problem is less in Lexa’s specific death, or Tara’s, or Denise’s, or any of the countless others. The problem is that all of those deaths, and more, are just another check in a very, very long tally; a tally that has been building since before most of us were even born.

I loathe the homophobes are secretly gay myth, which is often repeated even by otherwise progressive people. I'm not saying it doesn't occur at all, but every time a hate crime happens against the QUILTBAG community this gets trotted out without proof or second thought. It's the leading cause of homophobia as far as media is concerned. Here's another fantastic article that tackles the issue way better than I ever could,
Are Most Homophobes Repressed Homosexuals? with two quotes because I couldn't pick one:

It would be absurd to argue that all white racists secretly think they are black or want to be black.

Another persuasive aspect of this myth is that it reinforces the widespread cultural fantasy that heterosexual men are unfazed by the possibility of same-sex desire.
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text 2015-12-24 18:00

This post was going to be Best Young Adult Novel of 2015, but since Stand-Off is the only YA novel I read in 2015, I didn't think that would be fair. So Best Sequel it is, then.


Stand-Off might not be amazing on its own, but when paired with the first book, Winger, the two novels shine brightly. Winger was a much more somber piece, and Stand-Off is the exact opposite. Side by side, the two books compliment each other brilliantly. Andrew Smith could have very well drifted in the same direction, but he fought the obvious and wrote a followup devoid of formula. 


This is the second year in a row that Andrew Smith has made my "Best of" list. If you've never read an Andrew Smith book, I suggest starting with Winger or Grasshopper Jungle. This author is damn good at what he does.


Here is my original review.



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