A teen provocateur decides to befriend and help a social outcast.
Matthew is all about entertaining himself. He sees life as a series of games and challenges. A big challenge would be getting the school loner, Michael, some street cred. The book goes through the motions, following the basic outline of a romantic comedy that just happens to feature two guys. They meet cute, they tackle a problem together, they fall out. Though they do not come together again just in time for the book to finish, readers are left with a hint of rapprochement as Matthew pursues a friendship with Michael’s younger half sister. The author doubles down on the clichés by trotting out such reliable standards as an estranged father, seemingly distant stepfather and preoccupied moms. And wouldn’t you know it, all the time spent changing Michael ends up changing Matthew a bit too. The two leads are hard to take, which is unfortunate. Michael is a dull, cowardly introvert with little spark of life, regardless of his sad-sack back story. He’s preferable to narrator Matthew, though, who is intensely unlikable: cocky, vain, inconsiderate, obnoxious. Although the book deserves high marks for consistency of voice, Matthew's character growth is so deliberate and his voice so abrasive that readers may find any redemption too little, too late.
Like the main character, not as smart as it thinks it is. (Fiction. 12-16)