Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback, Library Binding
Reviewed by: Judith
Native American girl golfer + hot tortured rich boy + crazy, burned best friend = high school golfing soap opera at its finest!
Plot: Fredrika “Fred” Oday is dying for the day she graduates high school so she can finally leave the Gila River Reservation and her messed up family behind her. Her mom is a drunk, her dad is killing himself working as much as possible to keep them afloat, and her brother is perpetually absent. Her life finally looks up when the coach of the school’s golf team offers her a spot. He promises she’s good enough to get a scholarship through the team so seeing no other options for going to college, Fred takes the spot even though she knows there’s going to be a lot of hostility. Her being there means Seth, another well-liked player, gets kicked off. It pisses off a lot of players most notably Seth’s best friend and one of the team’s best player after Fred, Ryan. But Ryan has his own home life issues to deal with: workaholic mom, adulterous dad, and a small drug addiction he can’t seem to kick. When Fred and Ryan get paired at their first golf tournament, they find a kindred spirit in one another and must come to terms with the fact that a poor girl from the reservation and the rich boy from the other side of the tracks might have more in common than anybody thinks.
Review: Let me make this simple on everybody: give it 50 pages and you will enjoy this book. Don’t get me wrong though! You won’t be blown away and you won’t be wowed. However you will enjoy it and go away from it pleasantly surprised. It is not exceptional or ground breaking but it is a solid read. Quiet, a little slow, and intensely sweet and satisfying in the end, Hooked will definitely entertain you and is worth a chance. It builds up very gradually yet will give you some tough, nail-biting scenes near the end and will have you questioning whether Fred can actually handle the pressure of being a girl golfer on the boys’ team. Hooked is not explosive and it doesn’t rock the boat. What you think is going to happen actually happens and while that is satisfying, I wish it would have pushed the envelope a bit instead of sticking to what’s easy. That little push would have been enough to take this from merely entertaining to phenomenal.
The book can be broken down into two parts: when Fred’s playing golf and when she interacts with Ryan. All the golf-playing is actually very interesting for us laymen. You will learn the terms, understand the rules, and kind of
feel as if you care about golf even though Tiger Woods is nowhere on the scene. It’s a fun way to learn about the sport. Then there’s the interactions between the two main characters. Fred and Ryan have your typical girl from the wrong side of the tracks meets rich boy relationship. There’s a rocky start, some miscommunication that causes problems throughout the beginning, and trust issues they both need to work through to have a satisfying relationship. I liked how sweet and quietly honest the start and build up of their relationship was but I kept hoping it would be more unique and flawed than it was. Ryan is a sexy, tragic hero but it’s hard to really feel for him when he has a family that loves him and seemingly unlimited resources. He keeps sticking up his nose at everybody and throwing away all of the amazing chances life hands him. So not what I want from a hero. Fred’s family on the other hand is just the epitome of a big old mess. The alcoholic mom and overworked dad are a little overused and how tragic she is smacks at trite but you really find yourself rooting for Fred and the dreams she has for herself no matter how overused her situation may be. When Ryan stops being a tool and the two of them let themselves be honest with each other, the book just flies by. It’s when the crazy best friend Seth comes into the picture that you’ll find yourself cringing and hoping it won’t devolve into soap opera-esque drama. But it does and while we all enjoy a bit of drama (please, I’m the queen of drama – love it! But still…), Seth pushes it way too far. His actions are borderline criminal and you wonder why not one person ever tells coach or calls the police or does something to stop him.
Regardless, trite and melo-dramatic scenarios aside, I enjoyed this book and found myself desperately wanting Fred and Ryan to help heal one another and force the other to really live. Again Hooked won’t make you question what you know and it won’t push the envelope but it will leave you happy and more willing to learn about golf than you would have thought possible. Give it a shot and enjoy the ride. You’ll come out with a smile on your face and a burning desire to learn all about the secondary characters you meet along the way.
In the end I’m giving this: 8/10.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 8. Fred doesn’t complain about the awful lot she’s been given. She’s steadfast, quiet, and willing to give Ryan a chance even though there’s a lot of crap that happens to her that is basically his fault. She does what she needs to do to win golf tournaments and isn’t a show off or know it all. She’s a little bland and sometimes too ready to let life happen to her but otherwise, I think she’s a great heroine and a strong athletic character to use as a role model for young girls. Plus she’s Native American and it’s a big step in the right direction to begin seeing minorities in YA lit.
How much did I like the hero: 7. Ryan is sexy and totally my type – blond, blue eyed, tanned and athletic. He’s also a bit of a gloomy gus, complaining about his pretty easy life and using drugs/alcohol to escape what he sees as bad. He finally mans up when he realizes that his 1st place on the golf team is in jeopardy. He’s strong in that he doesn’t let his best friend, Seth, control him too much but he is too willing to give up control to someone or something else. It’s only at the end of the book that he finally becomes what I’d consider a true hero – someone who wants to fight for what’s right and what he cares for. His metamorphosis is exactly why I read YA in the first place though so if you can hold on til the end, it is so worth it.
How believable is the plot: 9. Girl joining the all boys golf team in order to win a scholarship? 100% believable. The fact that both the hero and the heroine have such screwed up lives? That was the part that plunges into the realm of unbelievable…
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. Liz Fichera writes very well! She’s got a quiet voice and style that will hook you. Her dialogue is amazing and her ability to write plausible melo-drama is off the hook. No editing mistakes, no grammar mistakes, and the ability to flip between male and female POVs make this a great read.
How much did I want to keep reading: 9. I wanted to keep going but only to find out what happens to Fred’s bf and Ryan’s sister, Riley (bonus: chapter from the next book can be found at the end! SCORE!)
Final Score: 8/10. It’s not novel, it’s not exceptional but you’ll enjoy reading it and the outcome will leave you oh-so happy.