It’s a 4.5* for me.
Michael Cargill ‘gets’ people – now I’m not sure whether he gets everyone, or that he writes about people whose brains work very like mine, but with each book of his I’ve read (Jake being the third), regardless of the plot or setting, it is the characters and their realistic behaviour that stands out for me. Jake is the same, and perhaps the most realistic and relatable of all Cargill’s characters I’ve met so far.
For much of the book you follow Jake through his daily teenage life: daft ‘boy’ antics, school and home life, rolling along. Within the first few pages I was transported straight back to high school – from the noises and sounds, to the familiar mad behaviour of the lads in class (although, seeing it from Jake’s point of view it makes a lot more sense now!) As YA books go, it was very ‘real’ – with no random appearances by vampires, angels or other common supernatural types – and I found myself quite happy reading about the intricacies of Jake’s life.
His first romance is really cute – to the point some scenes had me smiling to myself at the clumsy sweetness, and I loved the development of Jake’s relationship with his little brother, and the way he began to see his mother differently through observing her parenting the new addition to the family.
Overall, Jake is a really well-observed book, Cargill writes great characters and works with the smallest of details to give realism to his writing – as I’m not in to giving away spoilers there is little more I can say about the book without ruining it, but definitely worth a read if you like normal books about normal people.