Review: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

The Blurb

Adam Higgs is a loser, and he’s not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers’ weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam’s popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School‘s honest picture of high school hierarchy combines with an over-the-top, adrenaline-charged story line, and Adam’s rocket ride to the top of the social order (and his subsequent flameout) is by turns bawdy and sweetly emotional.

The Review

How to Win at High School is a story of a young man called Adam Higgs; a self-confessed loser. After moving to a new high school he makes it his mission to change this fact. He plans to get the pretty and popular kids to like him…and he succeeds. With entrepreneurial skills that could rival Sir Alan Sugar (or if you are reading this stateside – Donald Trump) he wangles his way into becoming a god, a legend at his high school. Known by the moniker “Pizza Man” his capitalist connections make him a fortune, land him a hot girlfriend and put him as an integral member of the school’s highest social group. But can Adam “Pizza Man” Higgs maintain this status?

So from reading the premise, the story sounds promising. It is a classic underdog story. And How to Win at High School is an easy read. Despite being 490 pages long, I read it in a day. Granted some of the chapters were only one line long but still it is a testament to how well written the book is.

My problem with How to Win at High School is that Owen Matthews has not made a very likeable protagonist. At first you sympathise with him. High School isn’t easy and you are made by those who walk into popularity like it is their God given right to do so. Ah the social hierarchy of high school – the scourge of many. However, as Adam descends into the dark dirty world of his underhand business he becomes arrogant, cocky and I am gonna say it – a bit of an ass! He destroys he relationships with his greed, he can’t seem to put a stop to his business and he begins to act like he is invincible. It is hard to feel empathy with him because – like I said earlier – he is an ass.

How to Win at High School reminded me a little of Youth in Revolt. Adam Higgs is similar to Nick Twisp with his scheming and his wheeling and dealing. Or even a modern day more creative Ferris Beuller but he just wasn’t likeable and I personally like to like my protagonists.

How to Win at High School is an easy book to read and it is interesting so I would recommend it. I would actually suggest giving it to a reluctant reader but make sure you watch them after they have finished just in case.

How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews is available now.

How to win at high school

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