A good basketball player suddenly becomes extraordinarily better--and wonders what the price will be. Joe Faust is a senior at a small, stuffy prep school. His grades are sliding; worse, his sloppy game has him headed back to the JVs. Then, after long practice in the dimly lit old gym, Joe has a golden moment when the ball seems to become an extension of his will. Indulging in the dramatic (he's been reading Marlowe's Dr. Faustus), he says, "Give me a full season. . .of this power, and my soul is yours." When a player's injury opens a spot on the team, Joe blossoms into an astounding superstar with 30 points a game, consistently performing last-second heroics. Even his grades improve. Increasingly close to panic, Joe watches a perfect season unfold. What kind of a bargain has he made? Is his father's heart attack part of the price? A head injury brings him to his senses: sitting out play-offs when his team wins without him, he realizes that the season wasn't just his, but theirs. This doesn't have the depth of character or theme of Brooks' The Moves Make the Man--here, Joe's turmoil is caused more by a delusion than a conflict of principle. Still, the game scenes are enthralling: Deuker uses some jargon, but even non-fans will be swept up by his descriptions. A promising first novel, darkly humorous and above average.