Publishers Weekly Review
In this self-aware comedy, a teen's life is thrown into disarray by the arrival of his manipulative cousin. Sixteen-year-old Rod is the lead singer of an almost-successful punk band, and he has a hot girlfriend, so he thinks everything's fine. But when his buttoned-up, hyper-privileged cousin, Blake, comes to stay for several months, the two are instantly at odds. Blake seems hell-bent on sabotaging every aspect of Rod's comfortable existence, but Rod can't persuade anyone else of Blake's nefarious intentions: is he succumbing to paranoia or is something else going on? Rod's easily distracted inner voice and quasi-unreliability as narrator-he's prone to exaggerations and digressions-cause the plot to meander toward its climax. Looked at one way, this is a textbook example of gaslighting and psychological warfare; looked at another way, it's a comic war of wills between two teenagers pushing each other to the breaking point. Strand (Stranger Things Have Happened) has a keen ear for dialogue and character interaction, but the ending fizzles after all the buildup of tension between the cousins. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-A clever, relatable novel about teen competition, chaste romance, pranks, jealousy, and kindness. Rod, lead singer in a pretty awful high school punk rock band called Fanged Grapefruit, has an awesome life for the most part, with a beautiful, supportive girlfriend, a few tight friends, and a terrific, hardworking mom. Everything changes, though, when odious cousin Blake moves in for three months and begins to deliberately and sneakily destroy everything good in Rod's life. He seems to have everyone fooled about his true nature. Rod responds: game on, and may the best man win. Witty dialogue, ridiculous yet believable situations, and just the right note of self-deprecating introspection make this a perfect book for reluctant readers as well as those who are just not in the mood for angsty YA novels. VERDICT Sure to fly off the shelves, this delightful addition to the minuscule shelf of truly funny books for teens will be eagerly snatched up and passed hand to hand.-Susan Riley, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Rod is pretty satisfied with his life. Sure, his dad left, but he's got a fun band and a great girlfriend. Then his mom announces that Rod's cousin, Blake, is coming to stay for three months. Rod's not thrilled about sharing his room for a semester, but he supposes it could be worse and as soon as he picks up Blake from the airport, it is. Entitled, lazy Blake is a pain in the ass, but only to Rod; in front of everyone else, he's completely charming. After a few days of this gaslighting, Rod's starting to go a little crazy. But even if no one else believes it, he knows Blake is trying to take over his life, and Rod is about to start fighting back. Strand (Stranger Things Have Happened, 2017) imbues Rod's downward spiral with plenty of wacky humor, and if Rod's outbursts are a bit overly dramatic at times, readers will be too busy sympathizing with him to care. A family drama guaranteed to keep readers laughing.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2018 Booklist