By Anthony McGowan
Paul has always considered himself to be a loner. It's never been that bad for him, mostly it lets him fly under the radar of bullies or anyone else. But then Roth notices him. Roth, the most notorious guy at school. Infamous for his violence and bullying, Roth is just the kind of person Paul is hoping to avoid. But then Roth does something surprising. Instead of beating up Paul, he becomes his friend. Paul, instead of running from a person he knows to be dangerous, falls right into his trap. He likes being respected by his fellow students, even if that respect is tinged with fear. And when a knife comes into the mix, and a terrible fight, Paul will find out that being friends with nefarious people is the worst mistake he could have made.
McGowan's book is written in the blink of an eye for the character, as he relives the moments that led to him being about to be stabbed. None of the characters in the book are particularly sympathetic. While you want to feel for Paul as he feels forced into doing Roth's bidding, you don't because he continually is given opportunities to extricate himself from the situation and doesn't. The book does have a good twist at the end but on the whole you don't feel very resolved when it finishes. Most of the characters who should get caught don't, which I suppose also makes it more true to life. A decent read for male tweens.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 9th Grade