Author: Liz Fichera
Expected Publication: May 27th, 2014 by Harlequin TEEN
Page count: 352 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Contemporary
This Game Is Getting All Too Real
He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the Rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.
She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can’t get over, I’ll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.
Thank you Harlequin TEEN for the review copy! This does not affect my opinions or review at all.
Played started off as a pleasant read with its light atmosphere and diverse characters, but sadly things went downhill after that.
Riley and Sam go to the same leadership camp. They hate each other, so when they are stuck as partners for the scavenger hunt, they get into an argument which results in Riley running away and fall off the Mogollon Rim. Turns out, Riley is slightly injured and Sam decides to help her, but then the rain starts so they have to take shelter under a tree. Riley manages to get Sam to spill his secret – that he is in love with her brother’s girlfriend. After they have been rescued, Riley promises to help Sam the girl he loves and so their friendship starts.
I liked how Riley and Sam’s relationship evolves from hatred to friendship and it was actually pretty fun to read about Riley matchmaking Sam and the girl he likes – Fred. I also liked the characters enough at first that I was greatly enjoying this book. Riley is this bubbly girl and I loved reading her enthusiasm toward the whole matchmaking project, while Sam is almost like the complete opposite. He’s calm and quiet and what makes him even more interesting is the fact that he’s a Native. I genuinely appreciate the diversity in this book and we get to see glimpses of the culture. Though I was hoping I could learn a bit more.
Unfortunately, Played then took the wrong turn and I began to feel irritated with the characters after a while. Between Riley’s stubbornness and refusal to listen to other people’s advice and Sam’s sudden change of character and lack of gratitude… I just can’t. I completely understood Riley’s thirst for popularity but I didn’t like it when she ignores people’s advice to stay away from a guy because obviouly he’s a jerk, and she STILL defends him even after seeing what he has done to her *shakes head*
And then Sam. The previous week he won’t ditch school to visit his sick friend because he has exams – and I was like YES. Finally a character who is responsible and cares enough about his exams! Wonderful! Sam, you just gained my respect. But the following week he runs away from his consequences/detentions. Honestly, I don’t like people who refuses to take responsibility upon his actions. And you just don’t agree to help someone – who is grounded – to run away to another town without a second thought. (SPOILER) Sam picks up a fight to defend Riley and he immediately ditches school because he doesn’t want to face the principle. HUH? He goes to Riley’s house – who is grounded at that time – and when Riley asks him to run away with her he just agrees?? WHAT. What I disliked the most is when Ryan helps him with his motorcycle and Sam gets mad?? Dude, show some gratitude.(END OF SPOILER)
On the bright side, I totally adored how Riley’s brother tries to cheer her up or apologize to her. They have a heartfelt moment near the end and it surprised me how the sibling relationship appealed more to me than the romantic one. Additionally, the writing is very easy to devour. Played is written in alternating POVs between Sam and Riley and I was delighted that their voices are distinct enough.
If you haven’t read Hooked, fear not because Played can be read as a stand-alone. I haven’t read the first book, yet I didn’t feel confused for once. But I’m willing to give it a shot because to tell the truth, I liked Fred and Ryan’s characters more.