Crunch Time provides immature, unintelligent tale of SAT

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By: Stephanie Hodgin <Stephanie Hodgin@hilite.org>

This book is boring. There is no other way to put it. Apart from the hideously uninteresting plot and the immature characters, it can be safe to say that nothing can be learned from reading this novel.

Crunch Time, written by Mariah Fredericks, is about four teenagers who leave their SAT preparation class and decide to start their own SAT group. Max, a high school newspaper journalist, could get an outstanding score but is pressured by his dad to go to Columbia; however, he doesn’t know if he really wants to go. Daisy, a basketball player, is pressured by her parents to get a good score because of the family’s tight budget. Leo, a lacrosse player and perfectionist, can’t stand to lose anything and will be disappointed if he doesn’t get the perfect 2400. And finally, Jane, daughter of famous movie star Julia Cotterell, couldn’t care less about the SAT but is extremely in need of some new friends.

As they have more and more SAT meetings, tensions and emotions flare from all of the stress put on them to get a high score. Finally, near the end of the novel, after the big test is taken, the students at Dewey High School find out that someone in their class cheated the system. It is an emotional roller-coaster trying to figure out who was the cheater. The cheater’s identity is revealed at the very end of the novel.

First of all, the layout of Crunch Time is completely confusing. It is divided by each person’s point of view. For the first 50 pages, at least, I found myself flipping back to the beginning of each section thinking, ‘Who is this talking again?’ One minute you’d be reading from Jane’s perspective and the next Leo’s.

This novel dragged on and on, which made each scene much longer than it should have been. For example, the group’s first meeting where they leave the SAT preparation class and go to Jane’s house should have lasted maybe a few pages, at most. Unfortunately for the readers, this scene alone took 20 pages. Twenty pages to say, “Hey, I’m Jane. You’re Max, Daisy and Leo. Let’s form a study group.”

The author’s attempt at creating a different type of person for each of the four students was excruciating. Nothing flowed. Did she really think that a basketball player, a perfectionist lacrosse player, a newspaper loser and a movie star’s daughter who doesn’t care would really become best friends in real life? Not likely.

Also, this book had an increasing level of immaturity as you continued through it. At the beginning, getting a good score on the SAT was all anybody thought about. Then, as they became closer friends, people started liking other people, jealousy raged and the test became almost obsolete in the grand scheme of things.

Then it is revealed that someone cheated. On the test, I mean. This part was actually humorous. The author made it sound as if cheating was something that no one has done before, as if the characters would never think of that. I know the SAT is different from normal tests, but still, cheating happens all the time.

I would definitely not suggest reading this book, unless you are one of those people who enjoy reading books that could very well be written about students in our own classrooms.

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