High and Dry, by Sarah Skilton, another of the books I bought at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival a couple of weeks ago; and I have already given it to someone who came into the library looking for a good read! I plan to catalogue my copy for the Buena Vista branch, so that more than one copy is available to our patrons, because...I liked it!
Charlie is kind of a mess--his girlfriend of nine months has just dumped him, and although he always believed she was too good for him, he really didn't see it coming, especially with such abruptness. But this is just the start of his troubles--someone is out to get him, and they aren't messing around. He's framed for someone's near-fatal drug overdose at a party; he's blackmailed into trying to find a mysterious flash drive that multiple parties want; and a childhood friend asks him to do something he finds dishonorable, but Charlie feels he owes his friend big time, so...what to do?
The protagonist is smart, funny, and unpredictable; the story has some nice twists, with mystery and multiple problems to solve, but also showcasing disillusionment and growth, a little romance, some truths about friendship…better than I was expecting from the jacket copy, which tried to make Charlie seem like a hapless, out-of-control kind of guy ill treated by fate, when he was actually quite clever, once he got a clue and pulled his head out of his flask of whiskey. I especially liked his observations on his interactions with his parents (wry and revealing), the clever innovation to solve the problem of bullying at his school, and the whole story arc of the genesis and resolution of the friendship with Ryan. Recommended!