||AUTHOR: Liz Fichera
SERIES: Hooked, book 1
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Teen
PUBLICATION DATE: January 31, 2013
GENRE: contemporary romance
GIVE IT TO: HS girls
SUMMARY: When Ryan Berenger can’t believe his best friend Seth was kicked off the school’s golf team and replaced with Fred Oday–a girl from the Reservation. Worse, Ryan is forced to be her golf partner. Neither Ryan nor Fred is ready for the challenges they face from their very separate worlds or the attraction they feel for one another.
WHAT I LIKED: Fred’s character. Fred is a strong girl who is bullied for being a poor girl from the Rez attending a predominately rich, white high school. I like that she does her own thing, even though it isn’t always easy or socially acceptable. Though she isn’t perfectly confident (who is?), she is strong-willed and won’t let bullying or high school stupidity get her down.
I didn’t think I would ever warm up to Ryan’s character, but eventually, I did like him a little bit. For most of the story Ryan is most assuredly weak, small-minded, and pretty typical of a cute, rich high school boy. He sees wrong but instead of standing up and doing the right thing, he makes excuses or justifies it somehow. But Ryan isn’t what he seems, and as he grows closer to Fred, his true character begins to shine through. While it took way too long for him to see Seth for the a-hole he really is, Ryan is far more open-minded and caring than most of the other characters.
I like how both Ryan’s and Fred’s families each have their own prejudices against the other. Realistically, neither side is perfect. Fred’s mother is a mean alcoholic, and Ryan’s father is aloof and clearly miserable with his own life. Both sides judge. Both sides try to keep Fred and Ryan apart.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Fred and her father repeatedly refer to themselves as “Indian.” I didn’t think Native Americans did that because it is an inaccurate term (they’re not from India). I always thought they identified themselves by their tribe name (Sioux, Cherokee, Blackfeet, etc.). Fred’s tribal affiliation is Pee-Posh, which I had to Google to find any information on. Initially, I thought the tribe name was Gila River (the name of the reservation), and until I researched it, I thought Pee-Posh was Fred’s dad’s name. As important as Fred’s heritage is to the story, her tribal affiliation should be more obvious.
The footnoted definitions of Native American terms. I read a digital NetGalley ARC, and I really hope Harlequin Teen decides to take these out before publication. There are not very many of them, just enough to seem random and distracting. I understand that some explanation of Native terms may be necessary, but for the few that were in the book, context clues are sufficient. If they must be included, put them in a Glossary in the back (as they did with the golfing terms, which I only knew from playing Wii Golf with my kids).
The extreme prejudices. Maybe things are just different here in Texas. Maybe it’s because I work at a very diverse suburban middle school where a pretty girl is a pretty girl, despite her ethnicity. Do people really go into shock when there is a girl on a school golf team? My niece played golf on her school team, which I believe was co-ed. I know at my middle school, we had two girls on our all-boy football team last year. Yes, it was a big deal, but it seemed like our students were mostly supportive and thought it was “cool” that the girls did this. I know I personally was very proud of them. The characters in Hooked act as though a girl playing golf is inconceivable. It really isn’t. Get over it.
I also got annoyed with the stereotypes in Hooked. Ryan, the cute blond boy, is rich, plays golf, dates a snotty cheerleader (also a stereotype), and has parents who mostly ignore him. Fred, the gorgeous Native American girl, is poor, loves nature, works hard. Her mother is mean and drinks too much. Her overprotective brother has tattoos, rides a motorcycle, wears leather. Her father is gentle and wise and encourages Fred’s golfing career. While I liked Fred and Ryan despite all this, the glaring stereotypes irritated me.
The romance is very un-steamy. I never swooned, possibly because Ryan was so weak for so long. Though he eventually gets himself together, I know I would never have stayed with him after his cowardly behavior. Fred deserves better.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Skip it. The prejudices and stereotypes are annoying and unnecessary. Romance does not sizzle at all.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I have no plans to get it.
- Overall: 2/5
- Creativity: 2/5
- Characters: 2/5
- Engrossing: 2/5
- Writing: 2/5
- Appeal to teens: 3/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5
- Language: medium; some language (f— and sh–) sprinkled throughout; not gratuitous
- Sexuality: mild; some kissing
- Violence: mild; bullying
- Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teens drink beer at a party; alcoholic parent