Fully attuned to the adrenaline-fueled appeal of dares, Devine deftly conveys the dire consequences that can ensue once the first step is taken.
Ben, a perfectly normal high school senior, and his buddies Ricky and John pull an amazing stunt, which they post anonymously on YouTube, hoping for “weblebrity.” What comes their way is a contract promising them money if they continue to do ever-more-dangerous dares. When not filming dares, narrator Ben works as a pizza-delivery guy and longs for popular co-worker Alexia, who’s attached to a bad boy. His reflections on physics, English class and math become more penetrating as the ante ups with each completed dare. Adding in cameraman Trevor changes the equation only a little. Trev is a nerd and a target for bullies, but he’s also exceptionally smart and a quick thinker. As the stunts continue, Ben begins to have his doubts. Further complicating matters, Ben’s dad is out of work, and Ben’s sister wants to do a paper on their macho antics for her college psychology class. Devine’s examination of the teenage boy’s need for adrenaline is admirably complex, and he frames it within an engaging and realistically foulmouthed narrative. Ben reflects, “This is larger than us, and we’re already in motion and gaining speed. The natural course is to let this run take us where it’s going. There are no brakes in freefall.”
Astute and riveting. (Fiction. 12 & up)