Fifteen-year-old Felton Reinstein has always been on the smallish side, but in his sophomore year he starts growing...and growing.
During gym one day he smokes the football jocks in a 600-yard race. Felton has never been interested in sports, but there's no doubt-he is "stupid fast." As he juggles his newfound athletic prowess, his mom's sudden depression, an annoying little brother, and his first love, he discovers a shocking secret about his past which explains why he's turning out the way he is.
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Delving straight into the teenage boy mind and hitting on topics both funny and hefty, Stupid Fast hits right into the struggles of a teenage guy from first love to finding himself to dealing with a quirky family in a great way. With a main character that truly is "average," a jerk at times and a total sweetheart at others, confused and awkward but then confidant and sure, this one is engaging and real. Through rambling in voice at times, and most definitely very boy in a way that could be a turn off to some female readers, the story is well written and well developed, providing a solid debut.
The Extended Version:
Felton's mind is most definitely a very interesting place, kind of all over but captured in a way that the reader can still follow the rampant paths he goes down to also build his character. He's a good guy, definitely on the dorky side of things but hopeful for that to eventually change, and though he's not always the best towards his brother, how much he does care for his mom and brother come through strongly. From making new friends and losing others to falling for a girl, Felton nagivates a range of adolescent issues and does it with his own style and humor.
Aleah is intelligent and creative, catching Felton's attention from the first time he hears and sees her playing piano while he delivers the morning paper. The way their relationship grows is done perfectly, getting all the awkwardness that comes with the territory yet also not relying only on that. She pushes Felton in subtle ways, and opens his eyes to things he might otherwise miss.
Rounding out a rather small cast of characters is Andrew, Felton's nerdy little brother who has his own memorable personality and role in the story, and his mother, Jeri, who is a key to much of the story's overall events. Definitely different in her views of parenting and the world, the impact Jeri has on her two boys is clear, understandable, and adds a strong family element overall. Other jocks from the school come in at times, some playing on the dumb jock stereotype while others break right through that mold and even provide a great friendship for Felton.
The plot is pretty basic in nature, centering around just a few things but each is fleshed out and woven together well. The writing is incredibly voicy, giving a huge personality to Felton. Though rambling at times, and sometimes going too far down the random tangents Felton's thoughts take, the humor and overall progression outweight the occassional lulls. With some mystery also lingering around, this book is as much about finding out what's going on with Jeri as it is going along for the ride with Felton as he figures things out. The plot pacing holds steady overall, shifting between internal narration and external action and events in a way where one doesn't overshadow the other. If you can handle the very boy voice, and the dorky but humorous and fun aspect of this book, then it's definitely a recommended debut.
Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: June 1, 2011