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{August 3, 2012}   {ARC Review} Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell

From Goodreads: “You’re going to hate me forever when you learn my secret.”

Seventeen-year-old stoner Aaron Foster was offered a choice: go to jail or turn undercover narc to find the dealer who’s funneling drugs into Miami’s Palm Hammock High School. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He’s human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase who’s obsessed with video games and street magic.

With a cop from Narcotics breathing down his neck, Aaron gets himself invited to parties where the deals go down. To get close to the school’s biggest players, Aaron lies to everyone–most of all, the cute but troubled Morgan Baskin. With the Everglades party on Halloween night–and a planned drug bust there–just days away, Aaron realizes that he’s falling hard for Morgan . . . and trying to protect her could cost him everything.

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While I enjoyed the premise of this story very much, I found that it progressed a bit slowly and I never really connected with the characters.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the novel, I just wasn’t as enamored as I thought I was going to be going in.  Mainly, I wasn’t a fan of Aaron, and as he’s the protagonist, that’s a big deal for me.  If I’m not in love with the characters, then I automatically won’t be in love with the book; just a fact of life.  Aaron was an all right guy, trying to do the right thing, but his constant wishy-washiness really irked me.  I understand that he’s under a lot of pressure from the cops, and that he’s “falling in love,” but even so, the fact that he couldn’t decide if he wanted to protect himself and his family or a girl he liked was a bit jarring.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I believe family comes first, and since Aaron has just met his new stoner friends, Morgan and Scully, I don’t think he made the right choices when it came to family versus friends.  But again, I’m not in his situation, so I can only say what I think I would do.   And thinking I’d do something and actually doing it are two different things… so perhaps I’d be in the same boat as Aaron.

But, characterization aside, I also had an issue with the fact that Aaron was forced to be a Narc at 17.  Now, I don’t know the law, but Aaron states, repeatedly, that he’s under age and the police never spoke to his mother, so I got the distinct impression that what the police were doing was illegal coercion.  Now, again, I’m not familiar with police policies, but threatening to throw a 17 year old in jail unless he becomes a Narc, without going through the proper channels, such as parents and lawyers, seemed a bit unreal.  As in, I don’t think they can do that.  But I haven’t researched this topic, so I could be wrong, and probably am.  But either way, I found it a bit jarring.  At least, if Aaron questions it, why not do the right thing and tell his mother?

Overall, the story was interesting enough, though I wish there had been more action.  Like I said earlier, it’s a bit slow, but towards the end it speeds up to a point that is a little overwhelming, and then everything comes crashing together.  I wouldn’t say it’s a happy ending, but at least Aaron comes out of it having learned some valuable lessons. Three stars.

Flux Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on August 8, 2012.

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