Payback Time - by Carl Deuker

"could have been a true story based on the way the characters acted and spoke."

A sports thriller that will keep readers on the edges of their seats, Payback Time by Carl Deuker is a must read. Known for his many Young adult novels, Author Carl Deuker grew up a fan of sports, worked in the newspaper business previously, and is currently a teacher at a high school. He also coached volleyball, played pickup basketball and now enjoys golf.

The main character of this fast paced novel is a young aspiring journalist, Mitch True who is a sports writer for the school newspaper. Mitch is a senior at Lincoln High and just wants to make it through the year and become the editor for the newspaper. Instead, he gets selected to become the sports writer. He's then teamed up with a beautiful girl named Kimi, and the duo are set to write about sports at their high school.

One day at practice, Mitch spots a player who appears to set himself apart from the rest during pre-practice. He notices how he can zip a football and wants to interview him. However, the head coach says no and restricts Mitch to only interviewing the quarterback. Mitch then becomes very suspicious and wonders what the coach is trying to hide about this obviously talented athlete. From then on, Mitch and Kimi set their goals on finding out the mystery of the secretive player, Angel Marichal. Even at school Angel appears to be secretive. When asked for an interview, Angel replies, "Leave me alone." This only causes Mitch to want to find out more information about mysterious Angel.

I found this book to be very enjoyable. It was always suspenseful and never did I once feel like the story was slow. The dialogue was the same as typical high school students; it sounded like it could have been a true story based on the way the characters acted and spoke. The characters also changed throughout the book, which made it interesting. The ending was quite surprising and unexpected which made this book even more enjoyable.

The book was motivational at times, proving that it is possible to accomplish goals when you set your mind to it. It's the first book I've read in the last few years that I honestly thoroughly enjoyed reading. It was relatable to any typical teenager's life that involves young love, self-esteem issues and even high school drama. The only negative aspect of this book that I could think of was possibly excessive football scenes. I do not recommend reading this book if the reader is not interested in football or sports in general. I enjoy football so I loved the book but someone who feels indifferent towards football may want to steer away from it. Otherwise, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who remotely enjoys sports and wants to get their hands on a good read. It was worth my time and it won't waste yours. I would enjoy reading more books by Deuker in the future.

   - Alex A.

"written as if you are there in person watching what's going on"

Payback Time is a book about sports and a high school newspaper writer, a book that I found very interesting from the very start. It wasn't boring and slow developing; once you start reading you want to keep going and going. The story is written in a very real and exciting way, as if you are there in person watching what is going on. I really enjoyed reading this book - it was very well written and exciting to reading. It was easy to follow and not confusing but still very interesting at the same time.

The story is about a boy named Daniel, nicknamed Mitch, who is a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School; he is short, fat, pale, and not very handsome. Mitch is a writer for the school newspaper, the Lincoln Light. Mitch wanted to be editor of the Lincoln Light his senior year but he did not get the job; instead Alyssa Hanson was named editor. Since Mitch was not named editor, he thought he would be lead reporter instead, but Alyssa changed his assignment to sports reporter. She said he was the best writer for the newspaper and the only thing that people were really interested in was sports.

The football coach wants Mitch to focus on only reporting about the star quarter back Horst Diamond. Mitch's photographer, Kimi Yon, a very smart and good looking girl, goes with Mitch to his first interview of Horst Diamond on the first day of football practice. Kimi tells Mitch she's tired of hearing about Horst Diamond and that they should interview other people for a change. As they sit on a hill and watch the first practice, Mitch sees a new kid trying out for the football team and notices that he is big and strong and has the arm of an NFL quarterback. Kimi tells the coach that they want to interview the new guy, so the coach calls the boy over and asks him a few questions and gets him to throw the ball a few times so he can check out his arm. The boy just lobs the ball in the air and doesn't throw the ball like Mitch saw him do earlier, and the coach tells them they can't interview him. The coach asks the boy what his name is, where he's from, if he played football there, and what position he played.

The new boy, Angel, from Houston, says he got cut from the football team at his old school which he says was a big school, and that he plays linebacker. Mitch and Kimi watch the rest of the practice and notice that Angel does not try his hardest on the field - he doesn't put all of his effort into the drills. This makes Mitch and Kimi want to find out more about Angel. Mitch has always wanted to cover a big story that will get attention and shake the world. This isn't a story that big, "But it was a story."

Mitch and Kimi are now very interested in finding out what Angel's story is and why he doesn't try his hardest on the field. Angel is a great athlete, big, strong, fast, and very talented; he does very well in games and is in on every play, but for some reason the coach doesn't play him very much. Mitch is trying to find the missing pieces to create his first real story. What is Angel's story? Why won't the coach play Angel more and let his talents be seen on the field?

   - Anderson H.

"action packed sports with great suspense"

Were you ever a reporter or athlete when you were in high school? Ever feel the suspense of a groundbreaking story or a last minute game change? Well if you want to feel that rush of excitement again or want to feel it for the first time, read Payback Time.

Carl Dueker uses his writing skills and knowledge of being a teacher to relate to a teen's mind very well. He thinks what a usual teenager thinks. He talks about how important sports are in the teenage mind and about how to keep in shape and workout. So, in his book he emphasizes these to a high school student named Mitch True.

Mitch True is an overweight student, and he loves being a journalist. He writes for his school newspaper and is the best writer there. He is disappointed with his life by being made fun of and not fitting in at school . During his senior year, Mitch doesn't get the position that he was long been waiting for, Editor in Chief, but instead the gets to be the sports writer. He is first sad and disappointed about the job he got but as time passes, he learns to love it.

He also gets to work with a beautiful girl named Kimi. Mitch and Kimi are given the task to interview key players, mainly the quarterback Horst Diamond, and take pictures. But, when they start watching the team practice they see a new boy who is very talented. Mitch sees him throw but when the coach tells him to throw a few, he throws them like a drunk. This surprises Mitch and Kimi and makes them research more about him.

Angel Marichal has a mysterious background. Nobody has heard of him and he doesn't want anybody to know him. He never works to his full potential during the football practice but when you see him at a game he is the game changer. Mitch thinks it's odd that for most of the games Coach McNulty never plays him in the beginning. "There sat Angel, off by himself at the end of the bench. Had McNulty forgotten about him? How does a high school football coach forget six foot three and 220 pounds of muscle in a game where his team is being outmuscled?" Mitch wonders why coach not plays a game changer like him so often. Mitch also wonders why every time that when he writes something about Angel in the report for the Seattle news, it gets taken out. It's like nobody wants to make something big about Angel and he wants to stay in the shadows.

As a person who doesn't read that much and doesn't like to read really, this book just got a hold of me and reeled me in. It adds action packed sports with great suspense of mystery. My personal likings of a book are towards sports and mystery so this book hit me pretty well. Many things you must read to find out, like will the mystery of Angel be discovered, will Mitch lose his weight, and will Mitch go out with Kimi? All will be told if you read the book.

   - Harshal P.

"a sports book with a mystery"

All together, I believe Payback Time was a very moving and interesting book. Deuker had me guessing on what was going to happen next. His writing style was very good and flowing; he kept the story moving and didn't have any boring parts. The book had many funny scenes but was mostly serious as a whole. Students don't expect sports books to have a mystery and yet include a lot of information on the main sport in the book.

Payback Time is easy to follow, and you feel as though you are in the book. When protagonist Mitch True finds out that he isn't going to be the editor of his school's paper, he's extremely disappointed. Sadly enough, he has been assigned the sports section of the newspaper.

Mitch is starting the school year by writing stories about the varsity football season. He is on the verge of finding his first real story for the paper if he can get the star defensive player, Angel Marichal, to talk. He also wants Coach McNulty to explain why he never plays Angel with his obvious talent. Mitch and his partner Kimi discover they just might be sitting on a scandal that would not only shock Washington High school athletics, get Coach McNulty fired, and lose them all sorts of friends, but probably land Mitch on ESPN for his reporting.

At the beginning, Mitch True is very overweight student, but as the story progresses, he realizes his problem and puts a stop to it. The subplot of the book is the Mitch's relationship with the photographer of the school newspaper, Kimi. They both team up to find out the story behind Angel Marichal.

There are many different conflicts throughout the book. The main conflict is between Mitch and Coach McNulty when he will not let him interview Angel. When I finished reading the book, I was stunned by how everything intertwined from the beginning to the end. Any student interested in sports, especially football, would find this book very interesting. The football action is written in a thrilling and vivid manner, but the mystery behind Angel's past is almost more engaging. Even unenthusiastic readers will struggle to put this fascinating sports mystery down.

   - Jason S.

"Many high schoolers can relate to the feeing of not fitting in."

The author's style is very exciting and real. The scenes of the football games are some of the best parts of the story. Deuker makes the readers feel as if they are sitting in the bleachers with Mitch holding their breath until the last second of the fourth quarter.

You will also cheer for Mitch as the story progresses. Mitch is motivated and pushes himself when he wants something. I felt as if I was on the journey of high school with him. Even though I thought the ending was a little bit disappointing, Deuker threw a twist into the story that I was not expecting.

I enjoyed this book because many high schoolers, including me, can relate to the feeling of not fitting in. I also loved the suspense. Payback Time is a great read for all teens a football story, a mystery, and a great story of how the protagonist, Mitch, grows up. I love this book and wanted to read it every chance I got. I would recommend it to everyone, even if you don't play sports. It motivated me to follow my dream and believe in myself.

   - Luke B.

"a thriller that was thought-provoking and suspenseful"

Through the eyes of a distinctly non-athletic protagonist, a fat high school journalist named Mitch, veteran sorts novelist Deuker reveals the surprising truth behind a mysterious football player named Angel. Mitch is on the verge of uncovering the pieces and nailing his first real story, if only he can get cornerback Angel Marichal to talk. Teens who enjoy a good mystery will like the hunt for Angel's story. Readers who like books about teens with body issues will enjoy Mitch's personal story. And the sports fans are sure to enjoy the play-by-plays.

Deuker has written a fast-paced book that I enjoyed. I loved the "what's happening on the field" sections because I'm interested in that, even though some readers may not be. I enjoyed Mitch' personal story, but it felt detached from the rest of the book His running route is what brought him to Angel's neighborhood and sparked more curiosity about him, but besides that and a few small parts in the book, I didn't really see the point of including it in the story. I found this book to be a thriller that was thought-provoking and suspenseful. I don't read that often, but I wanted to read this book every chance I had throughout the day, whether it was at home or at school. I greatly recommend this book to everyone, due to its suspense. Payback Time is a killer story that I want to read again.

   - Jacob B.

"Deuker keeps you on the edge of your seat."

Although I hate to admit it I'm not particularly a huge fan of reading. It's just how I am. I'm not the type of kid that really liked to just sit down and read for hours. But this book blew me away in my expectations. I just couldn't put it down. I found myself reading 150 of the book's almost 300 pages in one sitting. Now for me, that was pretty amazing that a book kept my attention for that long. I was expecting a totally different story from what I got, but that is a great thing. I went into it expecting an average book about sports. But what I got is a book with a great story with plot twists that kept me guessing.

Mitch is a great character. His is motivated and pushes himself when he wants to achieve something. He keeps trying and trying to discover what is up with Angel. When he decides to lose weight, I found myself cheering for him and hoping he accomplished his goal. Kimi is strong, fierce, and goes after what she wants. Her perseverance is inspiring.

Deuker threw a twist with this story that I wasn't expecting. I thought for sure I had it figured out but in the end, I was so far off the mark it wasn't funny. Deuker keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole book.

This is an excellent book about following your dreams a well as investigative journalism that goes wrong when they don't follow all possible avenues and believe what they want to before getting the facts. All in all, it's a great read and one that I'd definitely recommend.

   - Shelby C.