With snappy dialog, off-beat teen characters, and a whip-smart high-speed plot, this book took me on a wild ride that I didn’t want to end, so the only thing that disappointed me was reading the last page which made me long for a sequel. I’m not sure if one is planned, but some questions are left hanging and the story could definitely continue.
Zoe Webster’s parents have just split up, forcing her to move to a small town with her mother, though she’s always been closer to her type-A father, and leaving her feeling displaced, resentful, and bored. Trying to make inroads into her new high school’s insular social scene has been a disaster, and then neurotic, intrusive, super-smart, utterly idiosyncratic Philip Digby shows up with his crazy ideas and rash schemes and things get even worse.
It’s not that trouble follows Digby, he chases it and for some reason includes Zoe in all his plans. She could refuse–and sometimes she does or tries to–but Zoe’s got nothing else to do, she’s tired of obsessively trying to strategize her future, and besides she’s intrigued. The book opens in the middle of their story with Zoe desperately and inexplicably trying to get inside a house wired with enough explosives to level the block, then jumps to the first day of school and Zoe’s initial aggravating, unsettling encounter with tell-it-like-it-is-to-the-point-of-rudeness Digby.
It turns out there’s some reason in Digby’s mad schemes, but we don’t find out what that is for a while. Digby has a difficult family situation and an unresolved tragedy in his past that drive his actions, which makes it sound like the book might be heavy but it’s almost absurdly funny.
A religious cult, a skeevy gynecologist, high stakes crime, and the jungle politics of high school all figure in the plot. There’s some romance, but it’s far from typical, and a crime is solved, but a mystery is left hanging. Front and center is Zoe’s maddening, enlightening relationship with Digby and their harebrained, rapidly evolving adventures. This is a debut novel–can’t wait for the next book.