November 23, 2017

off the rim.jpg

Off the Rim

Sonya Spreen Bates

Pub. 2015

157 pgs.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Sports, Hi-Lo

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

Senior Dylan might not be the best player on his basketball team, but when one of his teammates gets injured, he’s ready to lead everyone to the finals. Unfortunately, they’re down to two subs—and those two just happen to be the worst on the team. Jessie rarely shows up for practice, and Noah is so awkward and shy that it’s a miracle he can get the ball to the correct side of the court. It’ll take a lot of work to make either of them game-ready.

Even worse, Dylan’s girlfriend, Jenna, has been getting weird texts and phone calls lately. When their car is almost driven off the edge of a mountain after practice one day, Jenna finally admits that she’s being stalked for some unknown reason. The stalker keeps telling her to keep quiet, but about what, they won’t say. They just promise that her life will be in danger if she goes to the cops.

How can he help his team and save his girlfriend when there’s so much on the line?

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Review

Let me start by saying I’m not usually a fan of sports books. I mean, that much should be obvious, given the kinds of things I usually read and review. But this one was fantastic. Bates did such an amazing job describing the basketball scenes that I, who’s never seen anything beyond the student-faculty game, could follow along with the action. She had just the right amount of tension as the teams were playing that I felt like I was actually there. I caught myself rooting for them to win! Big surprise, I know.

Equally tense were the scenes with the stalker. I was completely hooked. I didn’t even notice I was turning the pages as everyone raced towards the climax. It was written in first person, so I figured Dylan would be okay, but all the other characters in that scene were free-for-all. It played out just like a movie on the pages and in my head, which almost never happens. Massive kudos to Bates for that.

There were several surprises throughout this book. While I did guess the identity of the stalker once I found out there was as stalker, the rest of it—the reasoning, the personality, the methodology—all took me by surprise. For a hi-lo book, I was pretty excited to find out my hypotheses were incorrect.

That being said, Dylan hardly changed one bit for all the craziness and stress he went through. He was definitely more tolerant of Noah, but his actual character remained mostly the same. Noah changed throughout, though, and Jenna did somewhat, too. While we learned more about Jessie in the book, he remained fairly static. At the very least, Bates managed to explain some of his personality flaws.

Still, those flaws aren’t enough to kill the book. Definitely a worthwhile read.

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TLDR

Though maybe lacking a bit in the development department, the mystery is solid and the action sequences both on and off the court are amazing.

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Recommended for…

  • Struggling readers
  • Sports fans
  • Anyone looking for a tense mystery

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Issues

  • Lying: characters lie throughout
  • Other Illegal Activity: hacking (characters hack a social media account); stalking (major plot point)
  • Theft: characters steal from others
  • Violence: some physical violence

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Themes

  • Determination </li
  • Education
  • Friendship
  • Heroism
  • Justice
  • Responsibility
  • Right vs. Wrong
  • Romantic Love
  • Sports
  • Survival

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Grade

Main Character 1
Subcast 2
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 2
Consideration of Themes 2
Didactic Tone 1
Suspension of Disbelief 2
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 2
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 1
Reader Enjoyment 2
Total 27/30
90%

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