Fantastic Flying Bookclub Blog Tour: War and Speech by Don Zolidis

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 416

Publication Date: 5 May, 2020

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks


Not everyone can be a winner…

“Sydney Williams knows this better than anyone. After her white-collar- criminal dad is sent to prison, Sydney fails almost all of her classes and moves into a dingy apartment with her mom, who can barely support them with her minimum-wage job at the mall.

A new school promises a fresh start. Except Eaganville isn’t exactly like other high schools. It’s ruled with an iron fist by a speech team that embodies the most extreme winner-takes-all philosophy.

Sydney is befriended by a group of fellow misfits, each of whom has been personally victimized by the speech team. It turns out Sydney is the perfect plant to take down the speech team from within.

With the help of her co-conspirators, Sydney throws herself into making Nationals in speech, where she will be poised to topple the corrupt regime. But what happens when Sydney realizes she actually has a shot at . . . winning? Sydney lost everything because of her dad’s obsession with being on top. Winning at speech might just be her ticket out of a life of loserdom. Can she really walk away from that?

My Review:

I have to be honest with you all. I picked this book solely because of it’s title, I’m not even kidding when I say that I didn’t even read the synopsis when I requested to be a part of this blog tour. “War and Speech” as the title suggests is all about a war waged by some high school going teenager misfits against the egocentric speech team of their school. Not to mention the fact that I was expecting some amazing speech content to be a part of the story as well and the book DID NOT disappoint.

War and Speech is like a fresh breath of reality amidst the many magical books under the YA genre. It’s real, it’s ugly and has the perfect pinch of aww moments too. The protagonist – Sydney Williams has to move into a tiny apartment and change schools after her father has been sent to prison for white-collar crime – tax evasion – which isn’t even a “cool” thing to go to prison for. She is undoubtedly amazing at being a “loser” and like you can guess she befriends the misfits at her new school.

Eagenville has a solid speech & debate team, whose members are pretty much the celebrities there. They’re good at what they do, but hell are they mean! The misfits bond together and conspire to take down the team that lords over the school.

The story is one that I absolutely loved! From the moments of doubt to the moments of motivation. The moments when one falls but also gets up in the next. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Sydney makes those quick selling cookies with the fabulously snarky iced messages on them! I love how Sydney may have initially been portrayed to undermine herself but she’s a smart kid with a lot to say and that’s all it takes for me to be Team Sydney! She’s smart, she’s witty, she has a great sense of humor, what else are you all looking for?

I really liked how the harsh realities of life has been portrayed throughout the plot line. I loved the complexities of all the characters too! Lakshmi the basketball player, Elijah by the description of whom even I was swayed, Thomas and Blaize. I enjoyed reading through most of the speeches in the book too, in fact I had no idea what a big deal the the NFL – Nationals Forensic League was!

I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something which hits home, for something which addresses the issues of bullying, homophobia, socio-economic differences and the winning-is-everything attitude. Apart from how quirky and satirical the entire book is, I especially recommend you to read this book for Chapter Forty-two. Oh! I almost forgot there! The book has the most geeky and the best references ever! I mean every thing from Shakespeare to Harry Potter (duh!) to Lord of the Rings to GAME OF THRONES! And hence I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks!

I’d like to thank The FFBC tours, Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in lieu of an honest review. I’d also like to congratulate the author Don Zolidis for writing such a refreshing book!

As part of the book tour, I will also share some of my favorites quotes from the book:

“It was early January, which was generally the worst time of the year in Minnesota. The sun sets at four in the afternoon, and when it is visible, it’s like a pale, apologetic sun that’s ashamed it’s unable to melt the mounds of ice and snow.”

“I would moan, pull my hair over my face, and roll over like a majestic lion. (Seriously—have you been to a zoo? Those bastards sleep twenty hours a day and yet they also have time to be king of the jungle. #rolemodels)”

“I am cheering all the damn time,” he said. “I’m here for continuous support, Like a sports bra.”

“Sometimes the best thing to do is to keep going, even when other people are embarrassed by you. One of the rules of improv comedy.”

“Is that your life philosophy? Just keep going even if you’re being embarrassing?” “I mean, what is being embarrassed, anyway?” he said. “It doesn’t really exist, does it?”

“I use humor,” I said, my voice shaking a bit. “I use humor. Someone once told me that people use humor as a shield. For me it’s armor. It’s the only thing they couldn’t take .”

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