BOOK REPORT for Save the Enemy by Arin Greenwood

 

Cover Story: Damp Big Face

BFF Charm: Nope

Continue reading >


 

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Talky Talk: Catch-12

Bonus Factor: Conspiracy

Relationship Status: Forget Me Yes

Save the Enemy

Cover Story: Damp Big Face

Every now and then, I go through a Big Face dry spell and think, “finally, cover designers have realized that putting a close up of someone’s face on a cover doesn’t really make the book seem all that appealing,” and then—BAM!—BF is back. The BF on this cover has obviously seen some tough times: Her hair is wet and matted (and she’s apparently too distraught to brush it out of her eyes) and I see a trail of tears. I’m sorry, BF. Have we been too harsh? Your, uh, colors are pretty?

The Deal:

Shortly after Zoey moves from Rhode Island to Alexandria, Va., with her parents, her little brother, Ben (who is a genius but lies somewhere on the autistic spectrum), and their dog, Roscoe, her mother is killed. According to police, the murder was the unfortunate outcome of a mugging. And in addition to losing her mother that night, Zoey also lost Roscoe, who was with her mother at the time. Things couldn’t possibly get worse, right?

Wrong. A few months after the funeral, Zoey’s father forgets to pick her up from lacrosse practice. Zoey chalks it up to her father’s occasional parental incompetence, but when she arrives home and finds that Ben doesn’t know where he is either, she begins to worry. When they wake up in the morning and their dad still hasn’t returned home, Zoey’s not sure what to do. And when she receives a text later that afternoon that reads:

RETURN J-FILE AND YOUR FATHER WILL BE RELEASED. DO NOT INVOLVE THE AUTHORITIES. LEAVE AT PM COLUMBUS AT MIDNIGHT. WE ARE WATCHING.

—she knows that the proverbial poop has hit the fan.

BFF Charm: Nope

BFF-Nay-6

I really thought I was going to like Zoey at first. She can be amusing, and looks at life through a sarcastic lens. She cares deeply for her family, even if they don’t always get along. She never quite fits in with other kids her age, wears “weird” clothes and reads “weird” books. I can totally empathize with all of that. However, after her father goes missing, she becomes whiny, distracted, flighty and illogical. I should probably give the girl a little slack—her father is being held hostage and she is being tasked with finding something she’s never even heard of to get it back—but the full reversal of what I thought was a cool character is hard to cope with.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

The day Zoey’s father disappears, she gets a ride home from a classmate, Pete. Pete comes from a rich family and does well in school. He has kind eyes and his hair is just a little too long and a bit floppy. He’s also a pretty good singer/songwriter in his spare time. Basically, he’s kind of irresistible. Without really meaning to, Zoey involves Pete in the situation with her father, and he sticks around even though she doesn’t clue him in to what’s happening until way late in the story.

I spent most of the book wondering what was wrong with him.

There’s also little time for much swoon thanks to all of the running around trying to get Zoey’s father back alive.

Talky Talk: Catch-12

While reading Save the Enemy, I kept thinking that it reminded me of some other book I’d read. Not the plot, per se, but the way it was written. It wasn’t until nearly the very end that I realized—the quirky characters, the vague mysteries, the strange incidents that weren’t looked at by the characters as strange—I was being reminded of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Which, since it’s one of my favorite books, should have been a good thing. Sadly, Arin Greenwood never quite achieves the effortless weirdness of Catch-22, and therefore the book falls a bit flat. The characters, instead of being loveable for their quirks, are kind of boring, and the entirety of the plot seems forced. The end, too, seems rushed and poorly thought out, like it was an afterthought.

Bonus Factor: Conspiracy

Conspiracy

Although the conclusion of the story isn’t as satisfying as I would have hoped, I do enjoy a good conspiracy, and one runs through the entirety of Save the Enemy.

Casting Call:

Eden Sher

Eden Sher as Zoey

Noah Munck

Noah Munck as Ben

Freddie Stroma-3

Freddie Stroma as Pete

Relationship Status: Forget Me Yes

I had high hopes for us, Book, but as our date went on I felt my interest waning. And by the time you dropped me off at my door, I’d already decided that one date was more than enough. You’re not the worst date I’ve ever had, but I just don’t see it working between us. A few years from now, we probably won’t even remember we ever went out.

Save the Enemy is available now.

Mandy lives in Austin, TX, where she's an editor/writer for an educational non-profit by day and a pop culture junkie by night. When she's not ensconced in a book for Forever Young Adult, Mandy can be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.