I’m not going to waste time restating the blurb above. It’s a pretty good overview of Surviving Elite High. But, what it doesn’t reveal is just how fabulous this book really is. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole 90210 vibe of some YA romance novels. Somehow, the poor guy always gets screwed and the rich guy is never as good as we want him to be. But, reading Surviving Elite High was like watching the pilot of a new TV series (with its growing pains) and watching the growth of the actors and the entire crew as they grow together as the season progresses.
The first couple of chapters weren’t earth shattering, but the writing was interesting enough to keep me reading. But, as we get to know John and meet, first his tormentors and then his friends, you couldn’t help but want to get to know this kid more. At this point, his sexuality wasn’t even an issue. He was just trying to get from point A to B without getting his ass beat by dumb jocks. His first person POV was quite interesting. Despite all the negativity in his life, he has a great attitude. He is really thrown off kilter, when he meets Nick and finds his secret crush is really a nice guy…most of the time.
So like I said, after that slow start, this book is really fast paced. It really is like watching a soap opera…there is so much going on. But, somehow, it wasn’t too much. And even with all the drama going on, it wasn’t maudlin. The secondary cast is great. John’s best friends, Madison and Kitty are two little rich girls that have kinda adopted John. But, rather than being the typical teenage bitches, like on Pretty Liars, they are genuinely nice girls. Hell, even Nick’s competition is a nice guy. It was really cool, to see them all supporting each other through the chaos of high school.
Now, I know for a fact that this is supposed to be John’s story. It’s written from his point of view, but for me…Nick is the bomb. From the minute that John makes a blip on his radar, Nick is unwavering in his devotion; first as a friend and later as a lover. To everyone else, he can be a bipolar dickhead, but not with John. With John he is always protective and emotionally open and I loved him. There were several times, throughout the book, where I could have just reached in a hugged him for his choices.
John H. Ames/Juan Alvarado is a fabulous fresh voice in GLBT YA fiction. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. Senior year at Elite High promises to be another rollercoaster ride and I can’t wait!! And in a perfect world, Jacob will find someone just as amazing as he is. Highly recommending this title for readers who hate bullies, love enemies falling in love and young men growing up nicely.