Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell

11 04 2012

Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell

“You’re going to hate me forever when you learn my secret.”

Seventeen-year-old stoner Aaron Foster was offered a choice: go to jail or turn undercover narc to find the dealer who’s funneling drugs into Miami’s Palm Hammock High School. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He’s human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase who’s obsessed with video games and street magic.

With a cop from Narcotics breathing down his neck, Aaron gets himself invited to parties where the deals go down. To get close to the school’s biggest players, Aaron lies to everyone–most of all, the cute but troubled Morgan Baskin. With the Everglades party on Halloween night–and a planned drug bust there–just days away, Aaron realizes that he’s falling hard for Morgan . . . and trying to protect her could cost him everything.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a grittier book, yes, and it’s definitly more for older teens, but it’s a very impressive and realistic book, and handles the (many) difficult subjects it addresses well.

Aaron’s in a tough spot. He’s forced to become a narc, reporting to the police on drug activity, which he hates. He’d rather be doing something, really, anything else instead. He starts to get himself involved in the school partying scene, making some friends and even a possible girlfriend, Morgan. But then the world catches up to him and he has to risk everything — everything — to protect Morgan.

One thing that I suppose some readers will notice right away is this: Aaron’s entire arc, his entire journey with being a narc, revolves around Morgan. Some might call this instalove, and write the book off for this. I personally didn’t find this to be instalove; the relationship grows slowly. Both Morgan and Aaron are developed characters, with weaknesses and strengths and personalities. And while the plot — the climax, for certain — revolves around Aaron’s choices regarding Morgan, the story is much more. It’s an exciting and action packed story, one that shows the truth of the high school partying scene with a gritty and gentle touch, one that is honest and funny.

The characters are all developed and interesting: there’s Skully, the popular party girl; Aaron’s mother, an alcoholic; Aaron’s sister, Hailey; and Morgan. They all have personalities and interesting stories. Some might regard these characters to all be damaged exaggeratedly, but I found the story interesting enough and it seemed like these many damaged characters were what kept the story moving and going.

The writing is nice — honestly I don’t remember much about it. Chappell’s writing works for the story, and she nails the voice of a teenage boy.

Now, a quick (ha!) digression:

I was preparing to give this book 3 stars for most of the time reading the book. I liked the story, the characters, the writing, but it wasn’t my personal favorite. I might have recommended it, but mainly towards people who were already interested in the “drug bust” type of story. And then, with my review mainly planned in my head, I reached the ending.

And, bam, it went up.

Why?

The ending was probably my favorite part of the entire book, if I’m being honest. It’s realistic and bittersweet and oh, so sad, and oh, so perfect for the story. Many books wrap up too neatly, leaving no unfinished plotlines, letting you know exactly how everything ends. Narc doesn’t do that. It leaves things open. It says that not everything is perfect. The ending’s a killer.

And it really improved my reading experience of this book, honestly, seeing all my original ideas and thoughts on the story upended.

So I suppose this long digression helps me make another point: this is a story to stick with. Stick with it until you get to the end, because trust me, the ending is a killer.

Overall, I really enjoyed Narc: it was a strong, interesting read. I’ll be curious to see what Chappell writes next (and I may have to pick up her debut novel).

4.5 stars

———-

Note: I recieved this book as an advanced reader’s copy on Netgalley from Flux Books in return for an honest review. In ordinance with the FTC guidlines, no monetary amounts or bribes were exchanged. 

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