It’s only a week into summer break and already seventeen-year-old Gates has . . .
a) Hustled millionaires on the golf course
b) Tried to stop his mother from having a(nother) nervous breakdown
c) Promised to lose his virginity with his girlfriend, Mel . . . which would be great if he hadn’t already lost it to his forty-year-old godmother
d) Almost killed a man
Yeah, Gates has a lot of secrets, but he’s determined to keep his heart true. When he’s not swinging golf clubs like a pro, he reads pulp fiction to old folks at the retirement home. And despite his occasional slip-ups—drinking before noon and sneaking glimpses through his sexy godmother’s open negligees—Gates only has eyes for Mel. But she knows he’s hiding something, and she’s beginning to lose her patience.
Just as Gates is about to spill his shameful secrets, he gets tangled up in a golf club scandal that jeopardizes his dreams of a normal life. He’s never been a fighter, but this time he finally pushes back at the world—which could have been a breakthrough but turns into an epic fail. Probably because Gates fights back dirty. Now his life is on the verge of ruin, and he’s got no one to turn to for help.
Or so he thinks. Because what Gates is about to discover might hit him with the most amazing shock of his life.
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Hilarious and unimaginable, Paradise Rules is over the top in all the best ways to create a funny, page turning read. Gates is the kind of character readers will inherently feel for, while still finding themselves wondering why he's doing some of the things he does. With a colorful cast of characters, spunky writing, and an overall well put together story line, this one is definitely an enjoyable, fast paced read.
The Extended Version:
Gates is definitely a guy with way too many problems, some of them of his own making and some not so much. Stuck in a sexual relationship with his godmother that he doesn't necessarily want, unable to figure out a way to tell anyone what's happening, and finding himself in increasingly bizarre situations across the board, Gates is all but normal, and about as much of a mess as the term allows. Still, how much he loves his girlfriend is clear and endearing, and the lengths he will go to to figure things out builds his character in a great way.
Though there are plenty of other people in Gates' life, the story most assuredly revolves around him, with no one side character holding more weight over another. Each character, however, has their quirks and habits which come through strongly, and the interactions Gates has with each one builds both characters steadily. Not holding back on how unlikable some characters are, Gleacher most definitely has a solid hold on his characterization skills.
The plot is completely over the top in so many ways, with so much thrown at Gates that it definitely borders on being unreal, and yet Gleacher has pieced it all together, backed up the motivations, and shown Gates' reactions to each element in a way that makes it work completely. With plenty of hilarious moments mixed in, an unadulterated look into Gates' seventeen year old mind, and a few primary story arcs that carry everything, this one's plot works throughout. Though a few scenes were, admittedly, a little too out there, the over all interplay of them and the way each one drives the plot a little more is notable.
The writing has a pretty steady flow overall, and though Gates' voice wasn't completely teenage boy, there was a clear element of it. With some great descriptions, a good overall sense of place, and enough random sexual related thoughts to keep readers laughing and reminding them that despite the events, this really is a teen boy trying to get through everything, Gleacher's writing talents definitely show.
Though a general fiction book, Paradise Rules is something that readers of many ages will enjoy. Despite the strong sexual natural of it, this book is far from crass or vulgar, and is completely hilarious more often than not. With some unforeseeable twists but a few moments of predictability that readers will thrive on, this one is a great read that will grab from the start and not let go.
Source: Paperback received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: General Fiction
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 12, 2011