Thursday, 14 April 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

3 Stars. (Young Adult)

Playing Hurt was a cute, engaging read, but ultimately lacked a little luster for me.

The characters were nice but could have had more oomph and zest, the setting could have come more alive and become more actively a part of the story, especially considering that Chelsea and Clint meet while Chelsea is on summer vacation with her parents in Northern Minnesota. They are supposed to be 'training', as Chelsea was once a star basketball player on the road to success before a bad accident on the court slammed the door shut on her dreams. Her father has hired Clint to exercise with Chelsea in a sort of BootCamp while they are on holiday. As such, the types of expeditions they take on their daily excursions could have been so much more interesting and engaging if the author had taken more advantage of the setting, utilizing it as a type of character.

Everything in this book was interesting and kept me reading, but not enough to make me love the book and want to keep it on my shelf once the story came to a close. Emotions from the characters were missing and not as fully drawn as they could have been. The drama was at some points overdone and the familial relationships could have been expanded.

This could have been a much longer and much better book if Schindler had taken the time to just expand everything.

Clint and Chelsea did seem to have a believable and strong connection and I really was on board with their relationship. I liked that Schindler didn't shy away from the sexual aspect of the relationship, as a lot of YA authors do. It wasn't drastic or in your face, but the hints at the strong sexual chemistry between the hero and heroine was very tastefully and believably written.
What I didn't like in their relationship was not the fact that Chelsea was cheating on her boyfriend, but that she convinced herself that she should love Gabe because he's "oh so perfect". He actually really grated on my nerves and the gestures he made that were supposed to be romantic, came off as more obsessive and with his behaviour and actions verging to me on the side of controlling. There was an ick factor there when I read the scenes between Gabe and Chelsea. She could have been a lot stronger and more decisive, and I wished that she had of been more self-aware. I think ultimately, that the story and consequently characters lacked growth, which made it hard to be totally on board with the ending.

Overall an interesting read, but could have taken better advantage of the already plotted aspects of the storyline. 

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