Review | How To Win at High School

How To Win at High School
Author: Owen Matthews
Published: March 3, 2015 from HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
My Rating: 4/5

Adam Higgs is a loser, and he’s not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers’ weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam’s popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School’s honest picture of high school hierarchy combines with an over-the-top, adrenaline-charged story line, and Adam’s rocket ride to the top of the social order (and his subsequent flameout) is by turns bawdy and sweetly emotional.

I had so much fun with this book. It was funny, fast-paced, and very unpredictable. All thanks to Adam Higgs, who wants to take over his high school with using the movie Scarface as a guide. Adam starts out as an nobody, but it’s he’s junior year and he wants to fix that. Adam wants to be popular like his younger sister, and older brother. But Adam doesn’t just want to be popular, he wants ‘god’ status, and he’ s willing to do anything to get it.

Oh my Adam, you were something else. But I have to hand it to you, you were hard-headed, driven and wasn’t a quitter. Qualities that you should take away from this book, just try putting them to better use than Adam did. When I picked up this book I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, all I knew is well, Scarface. Which plays a pretty big role in this book, it’s as if you took Al Pacino to high school.

Many of Adam’s motivation comes from his family life. He is going through some things, and his siblings are naturally well liked. I think a lot of his actions were to get his mind away from his life at home, and he wanted to feel important and loved. Which happens to the best of us. He took the really drastic route to ‘fixing’ that. While this you don’t feel that much attachment to Adam, but I felt enough to care about what happens to him. Without any sugar coating.

Adam goes through the ups and downs, let some people down and hurt others. The author kept it realistic with Adam getting what he deserved and the way he made Adam slowly realize what he was doing wrong, really made me give Adam some points back.

Pretty much, this whole novel didn’t have any sugar coating. Which was refreshing, the chapters are short and to the point leaving out unnecessary details. I loved the narrator, and funny way he told the story. I found myself laughing at parts where I probably should of been concerned or sad.  This made it a fun, quick, light read that I was able to get through in one sitting!

Overall, if you are looking for a story about a main character who is unabashedly determined. This one is a must. Beware Adam does get frustrating because he never loses sight of his first goal, whether or not that’s a good or a bad thing. I ended up really enjoying it, and just had fun with the story.

4 stars

Have you read this one? What did you think?
Would you read this? Tell me what your thoughts are!


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