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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Review: Exit Strategy by Ryan Potter

Exit Strategy by Ryan Potter
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 312
Source: Received from author for honest review

Summary: Who are you supposed to look up to when it seems like every adult you know is more screwed up than yourself? Looming above Zach Ramsey's hometown are the smoke stacks of the truck assembly plant, the greasy lifeblood of this Detroit suburb. Surrounded by drunks, broken marriages, and factory rats living in fear of the pink slip, Zach is getting the hell out of Blaine after graduation. But first, he's going to enjoy the summer before his senior year. Rolling in cash from bootlegging booze, getting smashed with his best friend Tank, and falling in love for the first time, Zach's having a blast until he uncovers dark secrets that shake his faith in everyone—including Tank, whose 'roid rages betray a shocking habit. With enough evidence to nail the town's steroid kingpin, Zach is faced with the toughest decision of his life—one that will prove just what kind of adult he's destined to be.

My Review: Exit Strategy is a YA book like no other. The well-developed characters and unique plot formulated a memorable story. The main character Zach, lived in Blaine, a small Detroit suburb with no opportunities. The epitome of success was working in the truck assembly plant. Zach, wanted out after graduation. He refused to live in ignorance and yearned for a deeper meaning of life for the future. However, he still had a Summer left so why not cause havoc? And, that's exactly what Zach did. Working to uncover the town's steroid kingpin wasn't easy. Intelligence and sneaky behavior was the only way he was going to collect the evidence he needed and who better for the job than Zach.

Now, his best friend Tank was an intriguing character. The behavior he exhibited was explosive and temperamental. There friendship was sometimes dysfunctional yet ironically balanced each other out. I thought it was adorable that Zach's first real crush was on Tank's twin sister. His attraction to her blossoming beauty captured his heart and made him into a lovesick puppy. I really enjoyed there time together, I just wish she played a bigger role in the book. He not only experienced love but many other emotions throughout the chapters. His issues at home, Tank's rage and secretive cop father, steroid kingpin and being in love shaped the person Zach turned out to be in the end. The bittersweet conclusion left me sad but also elated that he surpassed all the obstacles Blaine threw at him. Overall, a very enjoyable read by an author who shows great promise in writing books that will arouse the interest of females and males.

My Rating:
Author Interview:
After earning two degrees in American history, Ryan Potter realized he wanted to write about things he made up rather than analyze things that had already happened. He wrote his first short story in 2003 and was lucky enough to get it published in a well-respected online literary journal. He’s had several stories published both online and in print since. Exit Strategy is his first novel.

For more info on Ryan visit his site(s):

1) How old were you when you started writing? I was a latecomer to fiction. I started writing screenplays when I was 28, and I didn’t write what I would consider my first good short story until I was 32. I wrote the first draft of EXIT STRATEGY when I was 33.

2) What inspired you to write Exit Strategy? I knew I wanted to write a novel about a teenager who falls in love with his best friend’s twin sister, but I had no clue how to write a novel. I just started one summer day and kept adding to it daily throughout the summer. I had no idea if it was good or not. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could actually write a book.

3) Are the characters in the books based on someone you know? Yes and no. For example, the football coach in the book is a bad guy, but I loved my high school football coach. And there’s definitely some of me in Zach Ramsey, the main character, but he makes some poor choices that I never made. I suppose there’s at least a slice of me somewhere in every character I create. For me, writing fiction is free therapy. You learn a lot about yourself.

4) What was the hardest part about writing Exit Strategy? The hardest part was juggling all of the subplots and completing their story arcs. My agents and editors helped out greatly with numerous invaluable suggestions. As I’ve said, it was my first attempt at a novel. I thought the first draft was hard enough, but that was nothing compared to all the revisions I made. I remember finishing the first draft that summer and saying, “Yes! I’m done!” Boy, was I wrong.

5) If you had to describe your book in one word, what would it be and why? I’ll go with “gritty.” Zach lives in a dying blue-collar Detroit suburb. People are poor. They smoke, drink, and worry. So does Zach. It’s all he knows. He wants to escape the town, but he has to deal with some huge issues first.

6) I see you also write short stories, which one is your favorite? I was lucky enough to have my first short story published in a well-respected online literary journal called Toasted Cheese. I owe those editors a lot! They gave me the confidence to keep writing. Anyway, the story is called “Dale’s Night.” It’s a tale about a bored guy in his early thirties who takes a very unique approach to ending his boredom. I really can’t say more than that without spoiling it. Sorry!

Here’s the link if anybody is interested, but I should warn your readers that it was written for an adult audience!

7) Do you have any other projects you're currently working on? I’m currently working on a YA novel told from four different viewpoints, definitely something new for me. In terms of story, I have four rich suburban high school seniors (two males, two females) who embark on a very unique challenge as they near graduation. I’m afraid that’s all I can give you for now!

8) What book are you currently reading? I’m reading Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower. It’s his debut collection of stories. I love his style and characters. Great stuff.

9) Do you have anything to say to all your readers? I’d like to thank anybody who takes the time to read the book. This is all so new for me, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I hope people like the novel. If not…well, hey, I appreciate them reading it and at least giving it a chance! :)

10) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about. Ten years ago I received a standing ovation in Tokyo after a stellar karaoke performance of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The highlight of my life? Absolutely. Now the world knows. Thanks, Eleni!
[Eleni: Anytime Ryan!]

**Huge thank you to Ryan for giving me the opportunity to read Exit Strategy and for doing this awesome interview!!**


Kari (Flamingo1325) said...

Great review and awesome interview! Loved his answers haha and the karaoke thing is kinda funny. =)

Bere said...

Fantastic review and interview Eleni. I will
definitely be checking this book out. Your review was
fantastic and made want to read it. I loved reading
the interview, it was super =)

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Sounds interesting and great interview. I love books with lots of subplots and intriguing characters. Thanks!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hi Eleni! You have an award at my blog today.

blueicegal said...

Loved this interview, will be sure to cheak out his work, btw im loving the layout of your blog, very nice and uh hum i also see you want to steal my man damon nu huh! :D

Anonymous said...

EXIT STRATEGY sounds like it deals with issues many kids face today (and have in the past). Wanting to get out, wanting to make more of yourself & your life, having that last free summer to misbehave before taking life seriously, dealing with issues of changing behaviors and friendships, wanting to do the right thing. I'll need to read it, but it sounds like a good book for teen boys. That would be good. Whenever I would order books, there was lots of good books for the girls and little available for the boys.
Good luck with this and your next book.
PS - read your short story. Definitely an attention getter. Not the way I would deal with an early life or identity crisis. However, I think I've know people that might actually do something like that.

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