The Sutttering Tattoo
By Greg Logsted
4/5 coffee beans
Available now on ebook
Favorite line in the book: "You have to launch yourself into your passion. You have to lose yourself in your dreams. You can't allow yourself to fall short to be less than who you are."
This was an ARC I received through Net Galley (that really is a rockin' site). This book is outside my normal realm of reading (I'm not really a thriller/mystery kind of gal) but the cover was awesome so I decided to give it a go; and I'm glad I did. Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
Steven Bishop is extraordinarily ordinary. He goes to school. He rides his motorcycle. He stutters. His best friend is a former Colombian cartel hit man turned cook/construction worker. You know, ordinary. All that changes the day Becky Moore walks into his classroom. Becky is dazzling, enigmatic.
One day Steven gives Becky a ride home on his motorcycle. There, they discover a severed arm, one of the fingers of which still has an unusual ring attached: a circle, in the middle of which is a heart, at the center of which is a bold number 37. While comforting Becky, Steven discovers a tattoo at the base of her neck: it is the same symbol. And so begins a thrilling descent into a world of crime and murder, a ride wilder than any Steven has taken before.
So, the book opens with what I'm sure is a typical high-school daydream. As the day goes on, a new classmate, Becky, comes to school. He's hypnotized by her beauty and strong personality, and mystery. Who is this Becky?? He ends up giving her a ride home, he loves the way she clings to him on his motorcycle (gag), they almost kiss, a tragedy occurs, and now they're linked together in a way that propels the story forward and lets us know that Steven will do anything to keep/save Becky. While the action and hook in the first couple of chapters to get us to this point were A-MA-ZING, I truly felt this instant connection and blind devotion to Becky that follows is a little forced.
With this, we're introduced to our main character, Steven. He's not especially popular, actually, he's made fun of a lot because of his stutter (although we never see that in the book). He's 17, good looking (we're told he resembles Johnny Depp), buff (works out in the school's weight room every day), is amazing at martial arts (he takes lessons from Carlos, his Colombian cartel hit man friend who just happens to also be teaching the sensei of the dojo), he loves him some coffee, and he has a sweet old motorcycle. I think I like this main character. Oh, and he's brave, and loyal, and…..anyone else think he should have flaws other than a stutter that seemingly goes unnoticed to everyone else?
Logsted is an great writer. I sped through the book at a good speed, always wanting to turn just one more page. His descriptions were really creative and really helped me open my eyes as a writer that the sky's the limit. Examples:
- "The minute hand seems frozen, scared, as if it's standing on the edge of a building contemplating suicide."
- "I just look at her: she talks so fast. Joining a conversation with her would be like jumping on a moving train."
- "She's wearing large sunglasses, designer-type clothes, and jewelry draped around her neck and wrists like Christmas lights."
- "I know they say all is fair in love and war but that doesn't make sense to me. That doesn't make something wrong right. It's just a long dark coat of words worn by liars, thieves and cowards."
There were a few parts that were hard to swallow for me in this book. The first I already told you about. The second is when Steven goes into a bar to see Becky and her band play a gig. Pretty much every high-school kid has a fake ID, so I'm okay with that part. The part I'm not really okay with is when he orders a beer, his coach from school sees him, and condones what he's doing. When just one chapter before, he was busting Steven's chops for not showing up to gym on time. It would've been more believable had the coach given him lip service and then not followed through with action. But that's just one little thing. The third is Steven's dad. He's a cop—which is fine, but it always seems that every action he does, every look he gives, is a clear sign that "something was bothering him" or "a clear sign that he was angry". As humans, we all have several characteristics that come into play when we're upset, but in a book, it's best to stick to one of those things as being "a clear sign" of a certain mood. I found myself rolling my eyes when they came up and thinking, "Man, Steven's dad is a drag."
Some events were a little jarring or predictable. There's one part where a man turns out to be a woman, impersonating another woman, and another part where Steven gets a phone call from someone who says he "has uber important things to discuss with him" but refuses to discuss anything over the phone, telling him he'll talk about it tomorrow. I have a note in my Nook at that point: Cue dead phone caller…..now. Yup. Next chapter, dies in a house fire.
There were a lot of analogies and metaphors and comparisons to water and swimming. When I started to take notice of this, I got pulled from the story every time one was brought up. I wonder if Logsted is a swimmer? But, I liked that each chapter had a title. So many books now just have numbers. I guess it's easier than trying to find a clever chapter title that captures the essence of what the reader's going to be reading next. I'm so glad The Stuttering Tattoo had them. Logsted took the titles straight out of the text of the chapter so it was fun to try and hunt them down (I'm easily amused at times).
When reading a book, you always discover things about the author. I know that Greg probably likes coffee, perhaps a bit about martial arts/working out/fighting, and knows a bit about old motorcycles. That last one is my favorite. I want one so bad. There's a scene where he's in a chase scene with a "rice rocket" (as his dad calls them). It was a great chase scene and broken down and described in a way that was easy to understand and follow for the layman but exciting and engaging enough to shout, "Yes!" when things crashed.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was engaging and interesting and overall believable (as much as getting mixed up with a deadly organized crime gang can be). Steven isn't some superhero kid, he's just has the right tools and a smart head on his shoulders and isn't afraid when it comes to fighting for what's right or what's his. Great writing and likable characters, I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes this genre. It's a great gate for YA that will lead them to Thor, Meltzer, Grisham, and Coben.