Book Review: Hooked

Hooked by Liz Fichera
Release Date: Jan 2013 
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 368 
Source: NetGalley

Get hooked on a girl named Fred…HE said: Fred Oday is a girl? Puh-leeze. Why is a girl taking my best friend’s spot on the boys’ varsity golf team?SHE said: Can I seriously do this? Can I join the boys’ team? Everyone will hate me—especially Ryan Berenger.HE said: Coach expects me to partner with Fred on the green? That is crazy bad. Fred’s got to go—especially now that I can’t get her out of my head. So not happening.SHE said: Ryan can be nice, when he’s not being a jerk. Like the time he carried my golf bag. But the girl from the rez and the spoiled rich boy from the suburbs? So not happening.But there’s no denying that things are happening as the girl with the killer swing takes on the boy with the killer smile…

Short of it: This one started out strong for me, but started to fall apart midway through. I appreciate the tough topics the author tried to tackle, but ultimately ended up being just an okay book for me.

Plot: I appreciate Fichera making the book more about just romance. Racism and gender equality are important issues, but how it was handled didn’t work for me. I understand that Seth was upset at being kicked off the team, but he never had any true passion or skill for golf. I know there’s the additional layer of abuse with his stepfather, but it doesn’t excuse the levels he took his hate for Fred. He didn’t even know her beyond that she took his spot; a spot that she was asked by the coach to take. Granted, perhaps some of the anger could have been subdued by have her “try-out”, but I’m not so sure. His anger should have been directed at the coach, not Fred, but since she was the easy victim she had to bear the brunt of it. And while the pranks started off relatively harmless they get to a point of life and death. While bullying at any level isn’t okay, the lengths to which Seth takes it is absurd. He’s willing to physically harm someone to the point of hospital/death because the coach put her on a High School golf team.

I also don’t like that he never faces any consequences. I’m not saying he should be in jail, but there should have been some sort of punishment to his actions. I appreciate forgiveness/being the better man, but I seriously hope that neither Ryan nor Fred ever go near Seth again.

However, I did enjoy how Fichera made golf seem interesting. It’s the one sport I usually find extremely dull, but I never felt that way during Hooked. I also enjoyed how she weaved in Native American culture into the story. I have no idea if the legends/ceremonies are based in truth or not, but they were a nice addition to the story.

Character:  I’m torn on how I feel about Fred as a character. On one hand, I love how she was willing to be the only girl on an all-boys golf team. She knew it would cause trouble, but she knew it could be the ticket she needed to get into a good college. However, I don’t like how she just took the abuse from the guys. I get not making waves, but at a certain point you have to stand up for yourself. Game after game, she proved her worth and yet it barely earned her any respect from her teammates. They still pulled pranks and gave her the cold shoulder. I wish she had pushed back herself a little instead of playing the damsel in distress card.

I do want to make a side-note that I loved the relationship between Fred and her father. While their home life wasn’t perfect, he tried to make it the best he could for Fred. I love how he built her a putting green in their backyard. And even though he knew it would be tough for her on an all-boys team, he didn’t stop her from following her dreams and tried to support them.

Romance: The romance for this one drove me a bit insane. It was insta-love and I never felt they were building their relationship on something solid. I longed for something more from them, especially because I thought they could be adorable together, but never really got it. Instead, what I got was this back and forth love-hate romance. One misunderstanding would send them spiraling into not speaking to each other for weeks. Fred too often took what she saw as fact without trying to talk to Ryan and find out the truth. I know that new relationships can be fragile, but communication is the only way to make it grow. Fred wouldn’t even listen to him when he tried to explain what was going on. I never felt like the level of trust a relationship needs was ever truly there.

Not that Fred was the only one to blame. Ryan could be a real jerk at times as well. I hate how he didn’t stand up to his friends when they were being bullies and acting way out of line. While he never agreed with what they were saying he didn’t do much to stop it. Even when he does man-up about some issues, he doesn’t really confront his friend about it. I appreciate him taking the blame and apologizing when needed, but I felt like he didn’t confront the true issues until the very end (and even then not really). While the thing he does to help her and her family is a bit cliché, it was ultimately very, very sweet. It was the thing that solidified me liking him even with all his mistakes.

Writing: I can’t say that I really have any complaints about Fichera’s writing. She was able to create a story that kept me interested enough to finish the book despite my issues. In fact, I will most likely pick up the sequel/companion.

Librarian-Mode: Romance is such a huge genre and this would most likely satisfy those looking for that fix. However, I would pair this one with Catching Jordan and Dairy Queen, which have the same theme of girls breaking into a boy’s sports world.

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