Saturday, April 13, 2013

Novel Review: Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

Genre: YA Contemporary (Romance)
Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5-4
Publisher: Random House (Delacorte Press)
Spoilers?: No/Very Minor

Goodreads Synopsis:

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD LEON SANDERS has a mug that looks like it should be hanging in a post office somewhere. If he didn’t have his twisted sense of humor, he’d have nothing at all. So it’s no wonder to Leon and his friends that the gorgeous Amy Green will never even look twice at him.
However, there is one girl who might: Melody Hennon. Everyone at Zumner High keeps their distance from Melody because she was burned in a childhood accident. Leon has avoided her, too, until the day he tells her a bad joke and makes her laugh. Although Leon worries what people will think of him dating Melody, he’s happy to have someone in his life who thinks he’s special. That is, happy until Amy Green asks him out after Leon saves her from getting detention. Will Leon give up a shot with the Beauty so that he can live the fairy tale with the Beast?


I liked this book. I had a small problem with it and I was expecting/hoping to like it more, but overall I did enjoy it.
Leon, the main character, is a pretty average guy, although he doesn’t have a nice face and so has no luck with girls. Melody has been going to school with him for years, but aside from being made fun of, no one pays attention to her, because most of her face and neck and ears are horribly scarred by a burn. Including Leon. Until he runs into her and tells a lame joke, something that his friends would roll their eyes at, and she laughs.
I was not a huge fan of Leon. There were points where I liked him; like when he was being nice to Melody and stuck up for her. But then there were points where he was being a big jerk and I wanted him to stop, already.
He liked Melody, okay? He liked her, and they got along really well, and they had a lot in common, and they were good together. And he knew that. But he didn’t want to face up to it. He had a crush on a much more popular girl, and he was stuck on the idea of being with someone pretty, who people wouldn’t avoid or look at weird, or who wouldn’t embarrass him because of their scar. And, on a small part, I understand that. It’s selfish and superficial and it makes me sad, but I understand it. But at a certain point, when you have someone as great as Melody in front of you, you need to get over that, okay? And he needed to get over it.
At the end, he was acting like he was moving past it and was ready to be with Melody. Which, for one, she made him work for it; at first, when he was a big jerk and ended things, she would have taken him back, but later she wasn’t just going to accept him, which was very good for her. But, for another thing, I didn’t really believe him. I would have liked to, and a while after reading it, what happened has grown on me, but there just wasn’t enough of showing the reader that he was actually over it. I just didn’t fully believe him, although I would have liked to.
Both characters, Leon and Melody, did something they shouldn’t have because they liked someone so much. Leon did it for the popular girl, who he obviously had nothing in common with, and who generally was just a jerk and he needed to move on from her. And Melody when she kind of begged and would have taken him back when she should have been angry. But Melody mostly made up for it by not giving in later in the book. I guess Leon did, too, when he got over that other girl and realized that Melody was great for him, but I’m still a little mad at him.
And Melody is great, you guys. I really liked her, understood her, and felt like I really got to know her, even though we were solely in Leon’s head. I liked her a lot, and understood fully why her and Leon were good together, which is probably why I was so mad at Leon for messing everything up and thinking the shallow thoughts the he did.
So, to sum it all up, I liked this book. I liked the characters a lot (aside from the points when I didn’t like Leon), including Leon’s friends, who we got to see a good amount of and who I wouldn't have minded seeing more of, and his parents. They were all rather unique from each other, and I liked them. The writing was good. Overall, I really liked this book. And I’m definitely planning to pick up Katcher’s other books.

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