Title: The Next Competitor
Author: K.P. Kincaid
Release date: January 13, 2010
Genre: YA romance, LGBT, Sports
Buy On: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | Prizm
It's the all-important Olympic season and eighteen-year-old American figure skater Alex Grady is discovering that there are many obstacles along the way on his quest to win a gold medal. For starters, he has to get through endless hours of practice under the watchful eye of his stern and slightly terrifying Russian coach. Then he has to contend with his all-American rival, Tanner Nielsen. Tanner has the talent, looks, poise and picture-perfect girlfriend that make him the ideal poster boy for United States figure skating.
Alex has the talent and his looks aren't bad, but the filter between his brain and his mouth is missing, and he definitely doesn't have a girlfriend. He doesn't have a boyfriend either, although he finds himself thinking far too much about pairs skater Matt Savelli, which is ridiculous, since goody two-shoes Matt is totally not his type. Besides, Alex doesn't have time to worry about dating, not with the Olympics looming, right? Can he find a way to go for the gold and still remain true to himself?
Can I say I love this book? Yes, I can.
Alex is a great character; he has flaws and sometimes seems a bit oblivious. The only thing on his mind is skating. He needs to win his competitions, then Nationals and then of course the Olympics. So when a cute guy comes along, he doesn't know what to think. A relationship isn't a option! (even if the guy is cute and amazing) And how can he even like him? He pretty much dislikes everyone!
Just like Tanner. He hates Tanner. Mostly because everyone else in the United States loves Tanner.
About a quarter into the book something happens that will change Alex a bit as a person. An accident makes him realize what's important for him, but it's not a breakthrough moment. That moment actually happens at the Olympics. I think the progress he has made throughout the story is great and you can really see the change (though at some moments he falls back into old habits and yells and screams at everyone and just basically acts like a child throwing a tantrum).
Another thing I love in this book are the foreign character, for example Mrs. C (her real name is Elena Cheremisinova). Mrs. C is Alex' coach and from Russia and every time I read her lines, I hear this Russian accent in my head and that really has to do with how her lines are written. For example:
You are very foolish boy ---Another foreign character is Kenny, who is Japanese and always bows when thanking people. The way he speaks also feels very Japanese to me, so I really think the writer this a tremendous job on this.
Say you won’t be stupid boy again. Skate America is in two weeks. You will say only nice things to reporters.
These characters just really grew on me and I just think it is such a great story with great characters. It is not as predictable as I thought it would be, which is another bonus point and it also isn't a book filled with only dialog. I just wish I knew more of figure skating beforehand, because when all the jumps were mentioned, I didn't have a clue what it looked like!