Friday, May 29, 2015

Novel Review: Sway by Kat Spears

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Genre:  YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 2014
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A YALSA 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults Pick
In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

The Cover:

I rather like this cover. I think it shows the romance, but with it being a drawing, the boy could easily be anything, including a drug dealer. And the color gives it a distance, a subtle feel, so that it's not just a happy-go-lucky book.


  • "Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.” (Hardback, pg. 1)
  • "'Because,’ I said, ‘people can be relied on to always look out for number one. People think nothing about lying, cheating, stealing—as long as they see it as something they want or need, they’re always willing to justify it.’” (Pg. 82)
  • "The only […] things in this world that really matter are the people who love you—and I don’t mean your family. Sometimes the people who love you best have no blood relation to you.’” (Pg. 83)


First off, I want to compare this to Duplicity, which I recently read and really enjoyed. They both have similar concepts and main characters. While I think that the protagonist in that novel was more clearly redeemable and his sense of humor more enjoyable, I think this one did a pretty good job in comparison. The romance in both were pretty similar, and both pretty good. They both have merits to them, and while they were similar, different enough as well.
I also want to say that I don’t really like the title, or the concept behind it. I understand it, and I don’t mind the concept, but just the word chosen and its use seems weird to me.
Jesse has power, because he knows how to gets things and he knows what people want, and he uses that. He does it very well, and I liked that. Selling drugs, beating people up, getting the backing for a special Olympics event. He does it all, and he feels nothing about it. Until he does.
It took a little while, but Jesse was sympathetic, and he was understandable. He’s also crude and doesn’t feel sorry for anything, which could make this a book not for everyone. But I think it worked, and I appreciated some of it.
I liked his friendship with Joey, his best friend who is very similar to him. I liked Carter, too, even if he wasn’t around much. His growing friendship with Pete was nice, even if Pete did whine and complain a lot.
The romance between him and Bridget was very nice. It was slow, not much happened until the end. But it was obvious to both of them, and I liked how she pushed him, and how he started doing things differently. It was a slow progression, especially since he fought it, but I’m really happy with the ending. And I think since he’d already changed so much in his life, that it was realistic to see him continuing that change in the future. And I liked that. 
The ending made me really happy. A lot iffy for the other high school students that took his place, but I was happy for him.

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