A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.
Confession: I’ve never read Cyrano de Bergerac, but I’ve seen Roxanne, so that counts, right?
Sway is a retelling of Cyrano, from a modernized, YA point of view. For those who don’t know the basics: boy uses friend to woo girl for him. Friend falls for girl, and everything falls apart.
Sway, aka Jesse Alderman, is the “friend” in this story. He’s a go-to sort of guy–the guy who can get anything for anyone, indebting his peers and even some teachers to him with the favors they ask, and borrowing on those favors later to get what other people need. It’s an intricate and impressive web, and Sway has to stay on his toes to keep the whole thing afloat. He’s ruthless and brilliant, and emotionally above the fray. But Sway is also hiding behind his detachment, and there’s more to him than it seems. Only Bridget, the girl he’s been hired to woo for Ken, seems to see through his veneer. And, of course, that could change everything.
I honestly don’t know where I come down on Sway. I’ve thought about it for a few days, and I’m just not sure what to make of it. It was engagingly written–I read most of it in one day, and wanted to know what would happen to the characters. I liked Jesse/Sway’s complexity. He’s not a “moral” character, exactly, but he does have certain guidelines he lives by, and I respected that. From a literary standpoint, I could appreciate that he was such a gritty, realistic teenage boy–there’s a lot of frank discussion about sex, drinking, drugs, swearing, and what he thinks about pretty much everything. It’s real. As a reader, it’s not necessarily what I’m looking for, so I’m torn.
I do have to say that I loved Pete, and I really liked the relationship between Sway and Joey. Honestly, I would have liked more development with Joey–I thought some things were left unfinished there. I also felt like I was left wanting, somehow, at the end of the book. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, but I guess I just needed a little more “wow” chemistry between Bridget and Sway? I liked the plot, but the relationships in general could have used a little more work for me. That said, Kat Spears is clearly a writer with distinct abilities, and most fans of contemporary literature will probably love her, and this book.
With all my reservations, this ends up being about a 2.5 for me. The writing puts it at about a 3.5, but the language and some other things rachet it back, for my taste.