Rating: 3/5 stars.
Unpopular opinion of the day: Winger wasn’t that wonderful.
Seeing all the glowing, five-star reviews of this book, I wonder if it’s me who went wrong. Andrew Smith did a lot of the little things right in this in Winger. He established a consistent narrative, incorporated rugby and its rules with ease, used a boarding school as the book’s setting, and featured a nice friendship between Winger, the main character, and his best friend, Joey.
But I wanted more from this 400+ page book. Several themes or characters could have been fleshed out with all of that space. Winger and Annie’s relationship struck me as false – Winger finds several girls attractive, including Annie, but why do these two like each other besides the fact that they say and act like they do? Winger’s personality, while relatable to some, felt stagnant to me, almost as flat as the secondary characters in this novel. It wasn’t until the plot twist that took place near page 400 that he showed any real progress beyond just solving a problem or beating someone up. Perhaps if that last event had occurred earlier in the book – it did elevate my rating from two to three stars nonetheless – Winger could have had more psychological development.
Overall, Winger was a decent book. I didn’t mind reading it, but I didn’t particularly look forward to it either. One sweep of the Goodreads page and you can discern I’m in the minority though. If the synopsis interests you, I would recommend reading the first few chapters to see if Winger’s voice reels you in. If not, pass.