Tuesday, March 26, 2013

REVIEW: The New Kid by Temple Mathews

The New Kid The New Kid by Temple Mathews
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The New Kid is so over the top with cliches that it is up in space, orbiting the moon. I knew coming in, after reading my friend’s review, that the book would be full of cliches. However, knowing it is one thing, reading it — experiencing it — was another. It was a head-tilting-back, eyes-popping-out type of experience.

+ the Gary Stu hero
The protagonist was 120% a Gary Stu. 120%! Every third page and I am not exaggerating honest to goodness, the book would tell me how hot Will Hunter is, hot smart Will Hunter is, how lonely but cool Will Hunter is, how Will Hunt is this and that, how he is awesome, how he is awesome, how he is awesome — I get it! I fucking get it! Every time the book extolled Will, I felt as if an anvil dropped on my head. Even when the book went outside of Will’s 3rd person POV that predominated the story and onto another character’s POV, I still got the Will-Is-Fucking-Awesome “character development.”

The only time the book was not extolling Will was when it was lamenting his father complex. “Father, I will save you.” “Father, come back.” “Father, I never give up.” I get it. Will loves his father A LOT.

+ the love interest
His two friends were, thankfully, were not completely cliche. One of Will’s friends and also his love interest was the Girl Next Door, Natalie. I was very thankful that the book didn’t make her out to be a Damsel in Distress when it easily could have. She did, however, have a slight Tortuous Soul trope going on, but thankfully it never took front stage.

+ the doomed sidekick
Will’s other friend, Rudy, stopped short of being a Geeky Sidekick but his characterization still bothered me. The book portrayed Rudy someone who only looked like a geek, which is why he got bullied. To add insult to injury, it portrayed him as the definition of Below Average — not Average but Below Average. This kid couldn’t catch a break. If book made Rudy an outright geek, at least he would have something good going on for him.

I pitied Rudy a lot. His character was nothing more than a convenience for Will to showcase his I-stand-up-to-bullies attitude. Will did eventually consider Rudy a friend but continued to treat him pretty badly. Rudy was more like a friend he put up with rather someone he actually gave a damn about and protected. Otherwise, what happened to Rudy towards the end would have been avoidable.

+ other characters
All the parents were clueless and incompetent; the book made me think that a good parent was like a unicorn, only a myth. The book dressed the bad guys as goth kids and bikers. Villains were named Rage and Dark Lord — enough said.

One of the very few characters that was not a cliche was the stern, ugly, handicapped principal, and thank goodness he turned out to be a good guy. For a few minutes, I was almost led to believe that the book was sending a message about how people not looking or being a certain way are bad people, people under the influence of demons. Anyway, the principal was a missed opportunity. The book could have made him a clued-in, competent adult Will and his friends could come for help and mitigated the flood of cliches.

+ the writing
The book needed to learn the lesson “show, not tell” because it was tell-y for about 90% of the book. The whole book read like it was made to become a TV show. At one point, the writing annoyed me so much that I decided to flip back to the author and see who the author was, and I never do that. It was there in the author’s bio that I learn that the author was a TV show/movie script writer. Made perfect sense. It not only explained the writing, but the cliches and why the plot had an unusual hold on me.

+ the plot
Reading The New Kid was like watching TV. Not so good, not at all original, but yet not so bad that I didn’t want to know what happened at the end. The flashbacks served as the character development info-dump. The pacing moved at a steady pace with action scenes occurring intermittently. The plot even had an obligatory school dance.

Finally, the big twist at the end put a cherry on top on how cliche the book was and how more of a Gary Stu the protagonist was, which I didn’t think was possible but there it was. Upon hindsight, I should have known better and seen the twists coming.

In Conclusion

I rate The New Kid 2-stars for it was okay. The book had the story depth of a paper, here are the good guys, here are the bad guys, cliches everywhere. I like Gary Stu, wish-fulfillment stories, but this book went about it in an anvil-on-head manner.

Goodreads | Amazon

Post a Comment

You can also comment on the Goodreads version of my review. Click on the rating located in the beginning of my review to get to the webpage.