TJ Klune

Starting with an excerpt from the egregious self-insert fanfic that your protagonist is writing sure is a powerful opening. Imagine getting hit by a fully-loaded semi truck, carrying exclusively cringe. A bold statement, which nearly got me to put the book back down again; my high school experience was bad enough on its own, and I’ve never felt the need to relive it while adding extra awkwardness.

That said, I managed to convince myself to power through, and I’m glad I did. I have to give bonus points to whoever picked the tagline on the cover—“Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra.”—because it really explains what the protagonist is like. He’s extra. He’s also the most authentically high school character I’ve read in a while, because oh my god is he an idiot. Most of the plot of the book is “him failing to notice very obvious things, and coming up with incredibly stupid plans.”

What makes the book is his friends. Gibby is positively delightful—she spends most of the book, fully in the know on everyone’s secrets, and mostly using that to laugh at everyone instead of actually helping. A quote:

“Yes,” Gibby breathed. “Yes to this. Yes to all of it. Oh my god, yes. This is so stupid. I can’t wait. White people are freaky.

She’s living her best life.

The other thing that kept me interested in the book was that I couldn’t quite figure out all the secret identities. There’s just enough twisting to keep you wondering up until the book decides it’s time for you to know, and while it was fun to sit there in the knowledge of how well I’d narrowed down the pool of options while Nick—the protagonist—hadn’t actually figured out there was a pool of options, it was also fun to be unsure.

I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It took me a bit to get into it, because wow is the poorly-written fanfic at the start a tough sell, but once it got its hooks in I couldn’t put it down. Give it a read.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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