From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—In his third book set in South Brook High School, Lyga introduces Kevin Ross, the hometown hero revered for rescuing a local classmate from a serial killer. However, with each accolade and reward bestowed upon him, the teen becomes increasingly more depressed and filled with self-loathing. Only he knows why he was at the right place to save Leah Muldoon from "The Surgeon." Kevin's life becomes even more complicated when a local reporter photographs him throwing out "Support the Troops" magnets. Instead of explaining why he tossed them, the teen becomes politically engaged as he debates the relevance of the Pledge of Allegiance and examines what it means to support the troops. His unpopular opinions bring up his father's questionable past and ostracize him from his classmates and the community. As Kevin struggles to refine his opinions, he also questions his relationship with his estranged mother in California as well as with the Catholic Church. Readers will be interested in the mystery surrounding Kevin's obsession with Leah Muldoon and his father's dishonorable discharge from the military. Kevin's anguish and guilt are palpable; however, some of the situations, including the all-school assembly for an impromptu debate between Kevin and a classmate he has antagonized, stretch believability. Also, the plot takes on too many issues. Still, Lyga's fans will be rewarded by his authentic teen characters, his willingness to tackle tough issues, and, most importantly, his ability to encourage a dialogue that is crucial to democratic participation.—Lynn Rashid, Marriots Ridge High School, Marriotsville, MD
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Lyga’s latest novel, set in the same high school as his other novels, deals with heroism and investigates its nebulous relationship with patriotism. Kevin Ross, a nobody with bad acne, makes big news when he saves a classmate from a homicidal maniac. Shortly after being lauded as a hero, though, the town is just as quick to vilify him as anti-American after he is photographed tossing a couple of Support the Troops ribbons, which he considers empty symbols, in the trash. Lyga has a keen ear for incisive teen dialogue and employs an appealingly quirky cast of too-smart-for-school teenage pranksters to get the story quickly off its feet. But halfway through, the story veers off into an overly didactic treatise on free speech and patriotism, masked by a doubtful school debate over flag burning, with a mindlessly monotonic opposition to Kevin’s enlightened point of view. Although Lyga might be preaching to the choir a bit here, he still manages to capture the roller-coaster ride that defines high-school life as well as anybody else around. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman