At the same moment he catches his teacher giving illegal drugs to a student, Redmond Fairweather loses his friggin’ mind and steals Mr. Street’s prized possession—a stupid wooden sword with round edges that will never, ever cut through anything—“The Whomper.” Redmond has no idea why he stole the Whomper. He guesses his extreme dislike (okay, hate… so much hate) of the school’s most popular teacher probably has something to do with it. To his surprise and delight, the hottest girl in school, Elodia Cruz, hates him too. Soon, Redmond’s small band of misfit friends joins up with Elodia and the most popular kids on campus to hold the Whomper for ransom, pull off an elaborate, broad daylight heist to steal something even bigger from Mr. Street, and expose their teacher for the scumbag he really is.
Paper Bag MaskFeatured
A brilliant slice of teenage life
Redmond Fairweather is one of those high-school students no one notices. He and his only two friends, Deep and Alice, are the square pegs of the school. One day, he sees Mr. Street, a charismatic yet sketchy teacher, give what appears to be drugs to another student. To teach him a lesson, he decides to steal The Whomper – a worthless wooden sword that is Mr. Street’s prized possession.
What I loved:
This is one of the best-written, quirkiest, funniest YA books I’ve ever read. Though Redmond is the main character, the POV shifts continually throughout the story. The theft, and the numerous hijinks that follow, bring forth a bevy of memorable characters that band together in ways that are both heartwarming and awkward. Friendships begin, end, and begin again. Most of all, you never forget that these characters are teenagers, with all their foibles and drama. The drawings that led off every chapter were wonderful, and the comic-strip presentation of the “ransom videos” were absolutely delightful.
What I didn’t love:
Honestly, not much. Many of the adults were unlikable – most especially the main three characters’ fathers, but that’s part and parcel of YA literature. Redmond went from lovable loser to jerk several times, but again, that’s normal in a high school setting. The constant change in POV was slightly jarring, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story much.
My Final Verdict:
Paper Bag Mask is a wonderful YA story that you should add to your reading list. If Brock Heasley’s debut novel is a sign of things to come, then I can’t wait for what comes next!