Friday, November 3, 2017

BOOK REVIEW | Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Title: Offsetting Penalties
Author: Ally Mathews
Series? No
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source: I was contacted to read Offsetting Penalties for review. Thank you so much Melissa! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.
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Offsetting Penalties plays off one of my favorite tropes: two people who hate each other that fall in love in the end. When I read the synopsis, I was pretty excited. Not only does it include one of my favorite tropes, but it also focuses on sports as well. Maybe it's because I don't play any sports competitively, but I love having a focus in books. It allows for some really fun scenes, as well as opportunity for some tension. I didn't go into this book thinking it would be my next favorite read, and I was pleasantly surprised! I didn't love Offsetting Penalties, but it was a lot of fun to read. 

One thing that I didn't love was the writing. I didn't think it was bad, but there were a couple times where I was taken out of the story. Mathews would do this thing where she would tell what was happening, and not show it. This is a normal thing to have in the book, but what made it so weird was that it was in the context of dialogue. There was this one instance where Izzy is walking on stage and trips. Her friend asks if they need to move around the props, and instead of just saying "No, it's fine!" she says, "No. I need to pay more attention to what I'm doing. Luckily I only caught the edge of the box and didn't hurt my foot." (Loc 2333, quotes not final!) I just thought this response was very weird and forced; it didn't seem natural at all. While there were issues like this with the dialogue, they didn't happen often enough to cause a huge impact on my enjoyment. 

My one complaint that did impact my enjoyment was it's lack of substance. I would say that Offsetting Penalties is a quick and fun read. There are some great messages about fighting for your passion and being true to yourself, but the book didn't leave a lasting impact on me. At the end of the day, my favorite contemporaries are the ones that I think about for months afterwards, the ones where my life has been impacted because of the book. Offsetting Penalties just didn't do that for me. Reading this book was so much fun, but I don't think it will have a lasting impression on me. I do think that this book could have a lasting impression on someone else though, specifically if they are an athlete and their parents are disagreeing about their future. 

I loved in this book was how realistic the college application process was. Just a year ago I was applying for college and stressing out about my future, I related a lot to these characters. Even though I'm not an athlete, I completely understood their anxiety and their stubbornness. Both Izzy and Garrett have a set in stone plan, and I was the same exact way last year. I loved reading a book where this huge decision making process wasn't just brushed off, and was given a good amount of attention! In my experience, applying for colleges was of the most, if not the most, stressful and anxiety-ridden times of my life, and I appreciated how Mathews paid attention to that. 

Another thing that I really loved were the familial relationships! If you don't know, I love contemporaries where families are involved, or the lack of a family is noted. My favorite YA contemps off the top of my head: Summer series by Jenny Han, Alex, Approximately  by Jenn Bennett, Lara Jean trilogy by Jenny Han, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon; all these books have a strong family presence, and Offsetting Penalties did not disappoint. I loved how family was so deep-rooted in these character's personalities and values, because I'm the same way and I think it's a really accurate representation. I would have loved to see their families just a tad more, but I think they were done very well and were very natural. Izzy and Garrett's parents and parental figures weren't just one dimensional characters, they were also complex.  

At the end of the day, Offsetting Penalties is a fun book. If you are looking for a refreshing read or you want to get out of a reading slump, then I recommend this. It's a super quick read, and I never wanted to put it down. Offsetting Penalties might not leave a lasting impact on me, but I know where to turn to if I just need to get my mind of things. 

With that, I give this book 
4 out of 5 Stars!

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