Entertaining combination of coming-of-age and romance in this multicultural YA novel
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 352 pages
Reviewed By:Kate McMurry
***WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first book in this series, Hooked. Do not read this review if you have not yet read Hooked.***
This is the sequel to the young-adult novel, Hooked, by Liz Fichera. In the first book, the heroine is a Native American teenager, Fredericka “Fred” Oday, who lives on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona and is an extremely talented golfer. The hero is Ryan Berenger, a rich, handsome, and popular golfer who spends most of the book in fierce competition with Fred for ascendance on their high school’s golf team. By the end of the book, they are in a committed romantic relationship.
In Played, the heroine is Riley Berenger, Ryan’s younger sister, who has a hopeless crush on a popular boy at school, and Sam Tracy, a Native American teenager who has a hopeless crush on Fred Oday.
Sam is a big, quiet guy who keeps a low profile at school. The only teens he hangs out with at school are fellow Native Americans from the reservation until the night he goes on a school camping trip and unexpectedly saves Riley’s life. Much to Sam’s dismay, the pampered, white princess is determined to pay him back in a manner that is as morally questionable as it is irresistible: She promises to break up the relationship between her brother Ryan and Sam’s heart’s desire, Fred, so that Fred will then naturally (according to Riley) turn to Sam.
Though the premise of the novel sounds as if its inevitable execution would be as a classic, romantic comedy-of-errors, instead the tone is a combination of light drama with moments of dark drama toward the last quarter of the book. Personally, perhaps because I greatly enjoy comedy, I think the heroine would have been more sympathetic if the author had played this plot for laughs. However, fans of teen coming-of-age novels will empathize with Riley’s struggles to find a consistent moral compass where her altruistic impulses to help one person (in this case Sam) do not require harming others to bring them about. Riley also learns the hard way to exercise better judgment in protecting herself from harm at the hands of her peers.
Though the publisher has chosen to market this book with emphasis on its romantic elements, and we do get the point of view of both the heroine and the hero, the relationship between Riley and Sam is not at all romantic through most of the book, because during a large part of the novel, they are interested in other people. That is not intended as a criticism, rather a description of the type of plot(s) this novel contains.
As in Hooked, in this sequel, the author did an excellent job weaving in fascinating scenes with Sam and his Native American friends and family, giving the reader a glimpse into life on the reservation. Those were the parts of the book I enjoyed most, and Sam is a particularly sympathetic hero.
I rate this book as follows:
Coming-of-Age Plot: 3
Family Drama Plot: 4
Social Drama Plot: 4
Romantic Plot: 4