Over the course of one fateful summer, a high school kid figures out that he loves to run, and that he is able to do it incredibly well. He is more than fast. As the title suggests, he is Stupid Fast.
Despite his best friend having to leave for the summer, he conveniently begins dating the new girl in town, who just happens to have rented the house where his best friend used to live, and doesn’t seem to mind as our protagonist creeps on her through the window and door while she practices piano in the early morning, which he is able to see while on his disliked paper route.
When others in town begin to notice his impressive speed, he defies logic of his socially meaningless position in the high school hierarchy, and begins to mesh with the football players, working the weight room with them, running routes with the school QB, and building his endurance by running up the menacing town hill.
All the while, he is forced to lament the death of his father, who committed suicide when he was just a kid, his increasingly erratic brother, and his mother, who is slipping into a terrible mental state herself, destroying her family along the way.
There are some good things and bad things about Stupid Fast. The author attempts to write with constant humour, and while it does give the book a more lighthearted viewpoint, the humour often falls flat, and he does not manage to make the narrator’s voice as entertaining or funny as other YA authors, such as John Green, who has become the master of having his characters make light of serious situations. This failure to develop scenes that are different and fun makes the voice of the narrator kind of annoying, particularly near the beginning of the novel.
While the story definitely takes its time to get going, forcing readers to get through about the first hundred pages or so before anything of real significance begins to happen, it does become more entertaining once the repetitive nature of the first act is over with. Once you get past this, it does become a much quicker, and fun read. There are events that happen in much more rapid succession, and it makes me wish that this pace had been established at the beginning.
For the ending, without giving anything away, it ends too easily and abruptly for my taste. Not that I am adverse to happy endings, but this one read like he was in a hurry to get it all done, and decided to wrap it up quickly, in a nice little bow. He does a good job, however, in making sure that there are no loose ends, and story lines that served as undertones for the novel also were paid there due in the conclusion of the novel.
To his credit, Geoff Herbach, the author, does some things quite well, which keeps Stupid Fast open for a broader audience. He makes sure that the love story never veers into the cheesy or overly romantic territory that too many YA novels tend to do. He keeps it simple, and despite the coincidental nature of his meeting with the girl, the relationship remains pretty realistic for a teen romance. This ensures that the book will still be of interest for male readers, who are not looking for something sappy. Also, the inclusion of sports definitely helps. The sections about running, weightlifting, or football, tend to work quite well, but are not so detailed that they will ostracize non-sports fan readers.
Stupid Fast ended up being a pretty good read, and I quite enjoyed the novel. There were times when I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth it, but once I got over that initial 100-page hump, it was well worth it. It is a good light read, nothing too serious here, despite the fact that there are some serious issues being dealt with. I wish it were funnier, and that perhaps the narrator had a more sarcastic voice, or something, but in the end, I liked it.