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Review: The Beast by Paul Hoblin

Title: The Beast
Author: Paul Hoblin
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA sports fiction
Pages: 109
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2013 Google Reading map): USA

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Alyssa Duncan is a beast on the soccer field. As the Copperheads' starting goalie, she might be the difference between a state title and total defeat--and she likes it that way. When a concussion takes Alyssa out of the lineup, her rising-star teammate Becca Miller takes over in goals, Becca turns out to be pretty good, too. And what seemed like a temporary change might not be so temporary after all. Will Alyssa heal in time for playoffs? And even if she recovers, what kind of beast will she have to be to knock Becca back to her old position?

Review: I read this book with my daughter who is in seventh grade. While we bought this book for our high school library I think it is really geared to middle school and ninth graders.

I like the concept of Alyssa's character because she is a strong female athlete who isn't the typical "pretty" high school girl. She is taller and bigger, hence the nickname "Beast." Alyssa is good at her sport, plays rough, and is determined. However, when she loses her spot after she gets a concussion, she seems to go to any lengths to get her spot in goal back. She is devious, doesn't help the new goalie, and out to get the new girl. I know that in real life Alyssa wouldn't be totally nice to the girl who took her spot, but it isn't that girl's fault and I think the author made Alyssa little too vindictive.

The story is a good one though. Varsity spots on high school teams are coveted and student athletes work really hard to maintain their places or to displace others from theirs. I remember being the freshman on varsity and that awful feeling of younger athletes who were amazing coming up behind me.

The supporting characters are really good in this book, particularly Alyssa's mom. She was emotional and freaked out about her daughter's concussion, but she was also supportive of Alyssa and her work as an athlete. The coach was also good, supporting Alyssa and worrying about her health, while still being excited about his new goalie.

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