Stand-Off (Winger #2)
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: September 8th 2015
Page Count: 448
* WARNING: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ OR FINISHED READING WINGER BY ANDREW SMITH *
I hate to admit that I jumped onto the Winger bandwagon a little late in the game. I kept seeing it around and I kept hearing other bloggers talk about how amazing it was, but for whatever reason I kept putting it off. Earlier this year I finally had the opportunity to read and review it and I must say I fell in love with Ryan Dean West and his story very quickly. Fast forward to a couple of months later and I was contacted by Simon & Schuster Canada who offered me an ARC of the sequel to Winger titled Stand-Off. Of course I immediately accepted and although it took me a little longer to read due to a crazy couple of weeks, I finally got around to finishing it and I must say, I think I may have liked it even more than Winger!
Goodreads Synopsis: It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway. Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?
As mentioned above, I fell in love with everything about Winger. So when I heard that there was going to be a sequel, I was a little worried. Winger had such a strong an emotional ending that it was hard for me to picture where the story could go from there and if it would even be beneficial. I was worried in the same way I get worried after connecting deeply with a film only to have it ruined by a terrible sequel. I am so extremely glad that this was not the case with Stand-Off.
Stand-Off deals with the aftermath of Ryan Dean losing his best friend to an extremely terrible incident that still makes me angry just thinking about it. Ryan Dean is clearly and understandably struggling to get past the loss of his best friend and is dealing with some pretty dark emotions.
Stand-Off starts off with a darker and more serious undertone than that of Winger, but if you are familiar with the writing style of Andrew Smith, you know that there is always a little bit of quirky comic relief just around the corner.
Enter Sam Abernathy, Ryan Dean’s new 12 year old freshman roommate. In typical Ryan Dean West fashion, nothing seems to go the way he intends which leads to some hilarious internal monologue. The introduction of this new character provides the story with a new relationship between two characters that are more similar than they think.
I think that Stand-Off dealt with the concept of loss from the point of view of a young teenager very well. The idea of N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) was a unique and relatable way to deal with the concept of anxiety. I love that Andrew Smith was able to depict this in such a way, especially within the comics and illustrations from Ryan Dean’s imagination.
Both Winger and Stand-Off deal with everyday social issues that everyone can relate to. I believe that both these stories are beneficial for anyone who has suffered from the loss of their best friend or anyone who suffers from anxiety and/or depression. I highly recommend both of these novels as they will remain a personal favourite for a very long time.