A pure genius work of writing

Oct 20

The Ex Games is a work of genius. No, seriously, it is. I know from the cover you might not think so. I know I didn’t when I first picked it up at the library. My thought was confirmed when I read the blurb on the back cover. This was going to be another typical teen rom-com where the two most unlikely people to get together end up falling for each other in the end. Blah, blah, blah. Bleh. That’s not to say that that didn’t happen. It did. It was how they got there, no, how Miss Echols got them there, that was pure genius.

Hayden is a redhead who comes with all the bells and whistles of being one. She has no problem with exploding in Nick’s face whenever he provokes her with a Hoyden name-calling or something else inappropriate like that infamous fire-crotch incident. Nick and Hayden are the exes in question and they were an item in the seventh grade. It is now junior year, but Hayden hasn’t let go of that humiliating moment in the movie theater right after Nick kissed her when she found out that he had been dating her only to win a bet that no girl would be interested in him for him and not his money. She’s All That anyone? He didn’t exactly apologize for it either. So here we are, four years later, still holding a grudge over the most popular, best-looking dude in school (as if we really needed the reminder from a now teenage Hayden about the nice shape of his ass and chest muscles to figure this out).

Since our heroine does not possess the stellar grades needed academically to go to college, her only hope is her one true passion. There’s just one problem. She needed to get over her fear of heights so she can land that jump that will make her one step closer to becoming a professional snowboarder. And everyone is so supportive, from stepping in to come up with raps (her little brother who has hopes of going pro himself with the help of big sis no less) to challenging her in a comp for Poser tickets (only the hottest band who will be in town for a concert) in a girls against boys battle of the sexes. Guess who did that? Her ex of course. So now she must prove to her friends and family, but especially Nick, that girls can rock hader than boys. Only thing is, the biggest person she must prove is not even Daisy Delaney, the latest pro female snowboarder who Hayden just won private lessons with in her last comp, but herself.

In the meantime, Nick is being bipolar. One minute he’s teasing her, downright insulting, and the next minute he’s nice to her, making her heart race in a way you’re not supposed to when you’re currently hating on your ex. I just admire the creativity Echols put into Josh’s raps and how she makes something so dramatic and silly seem so important. She makes you care about what happens to Hayden and whether she will ever resolve her issues with Nick. Will she win the comp for the girls? Will Josh come up with a really good rap? Will Nick build a relationship with his father?

There’s a hint of a modern fairy tale as Nick lives in this mansion that is mostly empty and is guarded by fierce large cats that Hayden mistakens for mountain lions. Nick, ever the hero, comes to save her, much like Beauty and the Beast, except he’s hardly a beast, save his jerk of a personality. Two clashing, headstrong teenagers in love make for a bumpy ride to true love. Echols has you constantly guessing, will they or won’t they? Then you get to the end when Nick is being interviewed for People and texts Hayden if she wants to be a part of it and you can finally, finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Echols is one addictive YA author, as is Sarah Dessen. This one is by far my favorite of hers. She ties up loose ends so well and I love happy endings. I also love the reference to Lindsay Lohan when Hayden is compared to this famous redhead. Well done Jennifer.