Sunday, July 17, 2011
"The games people play...never saying what they mean." Song lyrics
"Play Dead" by Ryan Brown is a story that's just plain fun.
The author mentioned that he wanted to write a story when he saw what was going on with steroids in sports and in this story, he certainly succeeds.
Set in Texas, the story is also a satire about the fanatical following of high school football and the manner in which football can almost take over small town life. This seems particularly true in Texas but is often seen in southern and western states.
In the story, the local high school football team, the Killington Jackrabbits, are having their best year and are only one win from going to the district championships.
The key to the team is quarterback Cole Logan. He's attacked one morning by three steroid using members of a rival team, the hated Elmwood Heights Badgers. When Cole won't give in to their demand that he throw the game, they cut off two of his fingers. However, not thinking clearly, they cut fingers from the wrong hand and Cole is still able to throw the ball.
When this doesn't succeed in stopping the Jackrabbits, the members of the Badgers, led by a sadistic player named Booker who has become almost insane due to his overuse of steroids, set a new scheme. The result of this is that they create a situation for the bus carrying the team to be in an accident but the accident is more severe than they could have imagined. The school bus plunges off a bridge and into the water below, killing the entire team, or maybe not.
Both Cole Logan and the coaches daughter, Savanna Hickman, are entertaining characters. These high schoolers are drawn to each other in a love-hate relationship that is interesting to see and humorous in the situations that these teenagers find themselves in.
Cole's next door neighbor Mona, is described as a crazy witch-lady who has an ability with black magic. With her participation in the story, there were elements that were very visual. I was reminded of Stephen King's "Pet Sematary," where animals return to life but eventually behave in a horrific manner.
Overall, I would recommend this book for it's entertainment value and message about the abuse of steroids. The conclusion was a stretch but I think that readers who are interested in an adventure yarn and not care about the logic of the story would like this.