My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Winning the Player is a fun read! It reminds me, somewhat, of Scoring Wilder in that its characters garner media attention due to their sports-related success.
You know, when I read literature from the new adult or romance genres, I typically gravitate toward dual-perspective narratives: This is Falling, All Lined Up, Maybe Someday, The Sea of Tranquility…I could go on. But every now and then, hearing from only one character reminds us how nerve-wracking it is to navigate the dating and relationship scenes. You must decide whom to trust, and you must weigh the risks against guarding your heart.
In Winning the Player, we see main character Aubree tackle both. But I like that she doesn’t let emotion and strong feelings rule her. Instead, she relies upon her own self-respect and upon the guidance of the strong women in her family. She doesn’t have a flippant attitude about sex (unlike her friend Maddy), and she refuses to fawn over Hunter solely because of his success on the field—both of which I appreciate.
And while I like Aubree a lot, I can’t say the same for her love interest. Frankly, I doubted that Hunter could win me over in the end (view spoiler)…and I’m still not sure whether he has.
I mean, you get to know a person’s character through words and actions, right? (Especially since the reader isn’t allowed inside Hunter’s head.) When it comes to Hunter’s speech—well, he does a good job in the end of communicating his feelings, but before that he says some really hurtful things to Aubree that I have a hard time forgiving (e.g. “You’re no better than the others” and “Just who do you think you are, you stuck-up bitch?”). Wisdom shared from Maddy’s mum is pertinent here: “You can’t take back the hurt of what you say after the words leave your mouth.” While I acknowledge that both times Hunter is speaking from place of hurt, lashing out with one’s words is an unhealthy way to deal with conflict. I don’t want this type of thing for Aubree long-term.
As for Hunter’s actions, he doesn’t do enough to overcompensate for his mess-ups, in my opinion. (view spoiler)
One more complaint about Hunter, and I promise I’ll stop: I don’t like that he never tells Aubree the story behind Samantha. Shouldn’t he fill her in since he mentions (at least twice) his desire for them to talk about what she hears from other people?
You know what would clear all of this up? The same story told from Hunter’s perspective. Is that too much to ask? 🙂
• I love Gran; she’s a fantastic character.
• I love that communication via Twitter is included as part of the story.
• While I didn’t understand all of the novel’s vocabulary/phrasing, I did appreciate its setting. Winning the Player is the first NA book I’ve read that’s set in Australia, and I appreciate the change of scenery. Plus, I spent a semester abroad there, so many of the references are familiar to me.
• What’s with Aubree escaping to the bathroom at every awkward/difficult encounter?
Now don’t get me wrong: I really enjoyed this book. I may have mixed feelings regarding Hunter, but this novel made me think. I’m protective of characters I love and respect, and I count Aubree among their number. Thanks to the author for crafting such a thought-provoking story!
*Copy generously provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*