Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: Crash Test Love by Ted Michaels

SUMMARY: The last thing Henry Arlington wants is a girlfriend. He's just very, very good with girls—reading their body language, knowing what they want to hear, and more importantly: getting them into the backseat of his car. But all that changes when he meets Garrett Lennox at one of the many Sweet Sixteen parties he crashes.

Garrett thinks she's done with guys. She was dumped by her ex when she moved from Chicago to Long Island, and now she realizes that she needs to find out who she is by herself, instead of with a boyfriend. What she really needs is some good friends.

Fortunately for Garrett, the J Squad—the "it" girls of East Shore High School—want her in their clique. All she has to do is pass one little test: get East Shore god Henry Arlington to take her to one of the biggest Sweet Sixteens of the year, then dump him in front of everyone.

Garrett has promised herself not to fall for another guy, so playing with Henry's heart shouldn't be hard. Right?

And Henry doesn't fall for girls, so when he and Garrett start to click, it doesn't matter. Does it?
As William Shakespeare once said, "Love is blind," or in this case, the lovers may be, as Henry and Garrett fall in love—and into the trap that awaits them. Because neither of them can even begin to see what the girls of Henry Arlington's past have in store.


From the premise alone, this book seems like it's lighthearted but Michaels does a fantastic job mixing in emotion and drama without taking away from the fun overall nature. The split narrative gives perfect insight to both Henry and Garrett and builds a connection to both for the reader. Also notable is the way the reader will side with and root for both characters even when they are on opposing sides because of the great voice Michaels gives them.

Henry comes off as a cocky jerk and a heartbreaker, only caring about sex and one night stands but it is clear even early on there is much more to this boy. From problems in his home life to simply how he's become, there are much deepeer lays to Henry that Michaels reveals steadily throughout. Henry uses very corny lines that are laughable but still effective but the drastic way he changes in the way he acts and feels after one meeting with Garrett is a strong driving point for this book. There is also a strong contrast between the way Henry acts around his two best friends- boys I couldn't help but think of Rosencrants and Guildenstern every time they sauntered onto the pages with their love of girls, stupid comments, and fantastic banter- and who he starts to be with Garrett.

Garrett shares a chemistry with Henry that is clear from the start and complicates the entire situation. Her motivations are clear cut and provided throughout but the volatile nature of relationships and emotions interfere with any initial intentions. Garrett is, at her core, a sweet, kind hearted person and this overdrives many others things she does. Though she could be considered a jerk for agreeing to set Henry up, Michaels pitches the scenario in a way to keep her sympathetic.

The plot plays out at a steady pace with a rubber band type motion that gives and takes between Henry and Garrett. Their quips and flirting are fantastic to read but more notable is the way they act when all pretenses are dropped and it is really just the two of them. The reader sees much more insight into both characters in these moments and feels the same despair as Garrett over what she ultimately intends to do to Henry.

As things progress, Michaels keeps the focus unbiased, giving equal time and spotlight to both characters. Even the final climax gives both perspectives as does the tapering off and fall out. The ending is hard to predict and absolutely memorable and fitting for the story. I completely applaud Michaels for the way he played everything out. Great characters with strong development, fantastic side characters that add plenty of amusement and driving points for the plot, and a great narrative and voice make Crash Test Love a cute but still thought provoking read.

Source: ARC received from publisher for review

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385735804
ISBN-13: 978-0385735803


  1. great review, sounds interesting!

  2. I really enjoyed this one as well. And you said it perfectly when you mentioned how this book is a cute yet thought provoking read.

  3. This sounds a bit like the movie John Tucker Must Die, which I LOVED. I'll definitely be checking this book out. Thanks for the review!

  4. This book=WANT. Thanks for that xD

  5. I know! <3 this book. The ending was definitely memorable. Although i wanted the opposite. But i think it ended they way it should have :D