The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

Published by: Clarion Books on August 6, 2016

Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction

Plot: Austin is a hot mess. His grades suck, he smokes weed and drinks all the time, and doesn’t really take anything seriously. Join us as Austin slowly self-destructs.


 Here is the quick and dirty…

Things I liked:

  • Let’s hear it for the boys. Far too often we see that YA is dominated my female leads. I’m not sure if it’s because there is a myth out there that guys don’t read or what, but the majority of YA fiction that I come across casts males in supporting roles. It’s refreshing to see a male protagonist take the stage and rings true.
  • Solid taste in music. Thank you, Michael Rubens, for the stellar taste in music that you gave Austin. The world needs more Jeff Buckley.
  • It’s messy and accurate. If there is one thing to celebrate about this title, it’s that Ruben doesn’t pretend that life always works out. He is honest about there being consequences to ones actions, and that just because you want something to reach happily ever after status, doesn’t mean it will. Austin makes a slew of poor choices and he pays for them, which is a nice slice of reality.

Things that could have been better:

  • Austin (and others) could use a little more fleshing out. Throughout the book, I kept asking myself, “why is this kid so screwed up?” I get that his dad was gone and the mom seems a little cracked, but up until the last third of the book, I didn’t really see why Austin would be so hell bent of self-destruction. I think if Rubens fleshed out Austin’s back story just a tad more / sooner it could add a lot of depth to his characters.
  • The pace and plot were a little choppy. I wish I could explain exactly why I feel this way, but Austin feels very manic. As the sole narrator it gave me a little anxiety.

Is it a keeper? With some slight tweaking, I think this title could hit five star status.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Who Should Snag It: Fans of Sherman Alexie or Stephen Chbosky will find some common ground with Austin’s struggles.

*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*

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