Monday, September 24, 2012


Surviving High SchoolSeries: A High School Novel #1
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: Sept 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Emily Kessler thinks she has it all figured out. She eats, sleeps and trains for competitive swimming. All she has to do is keep her grades high and swim times short -- short enough to live up to her sister Sara's. But walking the crowded maze of unfamiliar high school hallways is like diving headfirst into shark-infested waters. Shark #1: Dominique, her biggest competition on the swim team and all-around mean girl. Shark #2: The adorable and popular Ben Kale... Emily can't resist his smile no matter how hard she tries. When the pressure builds to the point where Emily isn't sure she can stay afloat, she begins to question the strict path her life has always followed.
Maybe there is more to life than studying and swimming. Maybe the secret to surviving high school is just to have a little fun.

The hit mobile game Surviving High School comes to life in an original novel about perfection, failure, and following your dreams.

A story that's not particularly lengthy, but full of a wealth of emotion, Surviving High School is proof that size sometimes doesn't matter.

Surviving High School tricked me. When I saw that it was based on a game, and contains a mere two hundred, eleven pages, I thought it would be sort of a "fluff" book. A book that skims the surface, nice, but never digging too deep. Boy, was I wrong.

Surviving High School centers around Emily, a girl who is beginning high school in the shadow of her newly deceased sister. Since her sister, Sara's death, Emily has been pushed into her role: model student, perfect athlete, quiet daughter. She even eats and trains exactly like her sister did. The other girls on the team? They're not Emily's competition. She's competing against her sister's swim times. It doesn't help that her grieving father is also her swim coach. He pushes and punishes Emily to the very edge, not realizing what a loose grip she has. When Emily becomes involved with a boy from school, and realizes she wants a life outside of the pool and the constraints, she begins to unravel. How long will it takes her perfect life to fall completely apart? And does she even want to save it?

Surviving High School was very nicely written. The third person narrative, and the manner in which the story is told gave me the sense of watching the story unfold from above. Sometimes that doesn't work for me, but in this case it was nice. Emily's emotions were conveyed so simply, yet strong enough that I didn't feel disengaged.

I find it very interesting that the story, and subsequent series is based on a game. I'm curious as to how it plays out, and I may even buy it for myself. I would love to talk to someone who has actually played it. The next book in the series, How to Be a Star, is based on Emily's best friend Kimi, who is an absolute riot. I'm definitely interested in reading that book as well.

Surprisingly thoughtful and full of depth, yet fun, Surviving High School is a book that I can recommend to adults and teens.

Favorite Quote:

"Suddenly, Emily's head felt light, and she realized she hadn't taken a breath since she was up on Ben's balcony. She needed some air. Now. Two competing impulses took hold: Press her lips against Ben's or swim to the surface and breathe. A first kiss or oxygen? She wasn't sure which one she wanted more." (pg. 102)

"How much more could she take? Maybe this was the moment when she would break, when the weight of the sky became too much for her shoulders, and it crushed her beneath its weight." (pg 145)

You can purchase Surviving High School at:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble


  1. This book sounds like fun! I like the quote you pulled. Nicely reviewed, I think I'll have to check this one out. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  2. Oh I love it when short books pack a nice punch! This sounds like a great read .. Love the quote about oxygen and kissing .LOL

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  3. I really want to get to this one! Great review.


  4. Sounds like a good one. I'll have to check it out. ;)

  5. I love it when a shorter book is a great one. Not every book needs to be ridiculously long. This sounds fantastic. Thanks for the great review babe!!

  6. I like the sound of this one! I'll have to add it to the TBR.

  7. This books sounds great! Sometimes it's nice to fit in a smaller book here and there. I love that it packs in so much emotion into such a small book. I especially love the sound of "Emily". The whole dynamic with her coach, dead sister, and new boy sounds like a story I'd definitely be interesting reading about. Awesome review!

  8. I love short books that actually have substance. It's awesome to sit down and read a complete story in a single sitting. I sometimes have trouble connecting with the third person narrative so I'm happy to see that you mentioned it works in this one. Great review, I'll be adding this to my TBR!

  9. I didn't love this one but I thought it was really cute. I didn't realize the next book was about Kimi. Loved her!

  10. Wow. A book based on a video game that has depth? I am so impressed! Great review!

  11. I haven't heard of it, but sounds very interesting with video game and the emotional edge of the lost sister.
    Thanks for review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  12. Third person doesn't always work for me either but sometimes it does. Based on the title I was thinking this would be about bullying but it sound more like a struggle to step out of her sister's shadow and live her own life. A lot of pressure to be as good at swimming as her sister which is sad and unfair. Hopefully things work out for her!

  13. I haven't heard of this before, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the great review.


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