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4.0 2
by Crissa-Jean Chappell

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When his little sister is caught with a bag of weed, seventeen-year-old Aaron Foster takes the fall. To keep the cops from tearing his family apart, Aaron agrees to go undercover and help bust the dealer who’s funneling drugs into his Miami high school. But making friends with the school’s biggest players isn’t easy for a waste-case loner from the


When his little sister is caught with a bag of weed, seventeen-year-old Aaron Foster takes the fall. To keep the cops from tearing his family apart, Aaron agrees to go undercover and help bust the dealer who’s funneling drugs into his Miami high school. But making friends with the school’s biggest players isn’t easy for a waste-case loner from the wrong part of town. Stuck between the cops on one hand and a crazy party scene on the other, Aaron befriends Morgan Baskin—a cute but troubled rich girl who might be his link to the supplier. But just when he realizes he’s falling for Morgan, the unbearable weight of his lies threatens to crush them both.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chappell’s story of a teen caught up in a drug investigation avoids the saccharinity of many redemptive tales, but is weakened by thin characters and convoluted plot acrobatics. When high school senior Aaron is pulled over for running a red light, he takes the blame for the pot his 14-year-old sister has stashed on her. The officer bullies Aaron into accepting a deal to work undercover to figure out who is distributing drugs in his Miami high school, which requires the introverted teen to mingle with other kids. As Aaron tries to get information and stay out of jail, he is attracted to goth girl Morgan and her friends, who might be involved with the drug deals. Chappell (Total Constant Order) has a compelling concept, but too many moments are jarring or forced, whether it’s Morgan’s Facebook profile featuring her cutting scars, the implausibility of a traffic officer recruiting an informant, or the muddled climax. Readers may be drawn in by Aaron’s concern for his safety and family, but there’s not much beneath the surface. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Chappell does a great job of showing readers a gritty Miami most people don't think about when they think of South Beach and sunshine, and populating it with realistic characters. Really great book."—TRISH DOLLER, AUTHOR OF SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL
VOYA - Blake Norby
Aaron Foster is seventeen and has to make the difficult choice between going to jail and becoming an undercover narc to help catch the dealer supplying drugs to students in his high school. He has to go from a loner to a popular kid in order to infiltrate the underground drug world in his school. When he finds out the troubled girl he has a crush on is one of the dealers, Aaron tries to formulate a plan to protect her while keeping himself out of jail. As a huge bust approaches, Aaron has to decide how much he is willing to sacrifice to save the girl for whom he has fallen. The premise behind Aaron's story is unrealistic as realistic fiction. The concept of a cop turning a seventeen-year-old into a narc for a major drug bust, and that the kid would this accept over a minor possession charge for marijuana is far-fetched and unbelievable. There are a lot of holes in the plot with inconsistencies in the characters and the details. The way Aaron is so quickly able to insert himself into the popular crowd is unlikely and his justification for becoming a narc does not fit his character. There are also many out-of-date pop culture references that most teenagers will no longer get. A few teen readers may be drawn in by the idea of suspenseful realistic fiction revolving around drugs, but this book will be an overall letdown. Reviewer: Blake Norby
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Miami's Palm Hammock High School, known as "The Pharmacy," has a reputation for being a party school. Seventeen-year-old Aaron has stayed away from the parties, making few friends and occasionally smoking pot but remaining invisible to the drug crowd. His uneventful life changes abruptly with the death of his father. When he and his sister are pulled over and a policeman finds marijuana on her, Aaron is coerced into becoming an informant to lead police to the school's main supplier. Suddenly he is on uncomfortable ground, reinventing himself to fit in with popular classmates. As he struggles with his father's death and his mother's indifference, he finds himself in a position where he must now betray the friends he has made to stay out of jail. A Halloween rave will put all of the major players in the grasp of the police, and Aaron must decide whom he will protect. He is surrounded by teenagers whose parents don't or can't properly care for them, and many of the students are exposed as both fearless and intensely vulnerable. However, the character and plot development pick up only after a slow beginning, which may deter readers from continuing. If teens stick with the story and accept the implausible circumstances that lead to Aaron's position as a narc, they will enjoy the suspense as he battles paranoia and fulfills his mission without abandoning his convictions.—Caroline Hanson, Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
Taking the fall for his little sister leads to big trouble for 17-year-old Aaron Foster. Aaron is the quiet kid, the one who blends into the wallpaper and who stays out of trouble. But when his sister is caught with a small bag of (his) marijuana, Aaron is coerced into signing up for the police informant program and tasked with unmasking a high school dealer. Forcing himself into the right social sphere isn't easy, and Aaron's interrogation skills leave something to be desired. Labeled a snitch in the swampy ecosystem of his Florida high school, Aaron finds that untangling interpersonal connections is complicated at best, and it becomes nearly impossible when he develops feelings for one of his prime suspects. Though she sticks with the Florida setting that served her so well in her first novel, Total Constant Order (2007), Chappell suffers from the sophomore slump, with a thin premise, emotionally dull characters and a slow pace. That the police would recruit a withdrawn and disconnected student to become a social informer stretches credulity. Brief references to Aaron's drug use and panic attacks constitute his characterization, and secondary characterization is equally scanty. Tension never develops, even as Aaron wades into the murky territory of drug sales and dealers. Falls flat. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

North Star Editions
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Meet the Author

Crissa-Jean Chappell is the author of Total Constant Order (HarperTeen, 2007), which earned a bronze medal from the Florida Book Awards, received a VOYA “Perfect Ten,” and was named a New York Public Library “Book for the Teen Age.” She holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in literature, film theory, and philosophy from the University of Miami, as well as an MFA in screenwriting. Her reviews, short stories, and poems have appeared in many magazines, including Confrontation, Tatlins Tower, Broken Wrist Project, and the Southwest Review. For more than eight years, Chappell wrote a weekly film column for the Miami Sun-Post. The author lives in New York. Visit her online at CrissaJeanChappell.com.

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Narc 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the novel Narc by author Crissa-Jean Chappell. In all honesty, the description/synopsis had me both interested and at the same time nervous. I’m a teenager, I like to thing of myself as a very intelligent one because I am so against the use of drugs and illegal substances, so the idea of reading a story about a character who has used drugs in the past and is now forced to find a drug dealer and rat him out the cops definitely caught my eye. It sounded interesting and when the story began I found myself actually very into the story. Narc as I just said, is the story about our main character Aaron Foster who accepts the offer from a cop to be a snitch in exchange for not going to jail. By doing so, Aaron has to attempt to become one of the popular people in his high school and smoke out the drug dealer (no pun intended). While he does this, Aaron makes friends with people who he thinks are suspects or people who can lead him to the drug dealer. The story is split up into three parts. Each part revolves around Aaron as he continues to lie to the people around him about who he is and what his motives are. Throughout all of this, Aaron also begins to fall in love with a troubled girl named Morgan who Aaron hates having to lie to. Narc begins with the main character Aaron getting chased by a police car with his little preteen sister and is pulled over. The officer discovers that his sister was carrying a bag of weed on her and the story sets off from there. Readers will get to watch as Aaron goes from a nobody to suddenly one of the more popular people in his high school. They get to see what his home life is like after the death of his father, who was a photographer in the army, and see the emotional war going on inside of Aaron as he deals with the conflict inside of him that comes with lying to Morgan. I enjoyed the romance between Morgan and Aaron just because I felt like Aaron was one of those pretty good boyfriend examples that you can in YA novels. He’s openly caring for her well-being and at the same time beats himself up about lying to her. And the lying plays a pretty big role because Morgan’s very insecure, whenever Aaron lies it’s pretty obvious and I personally thought that it hurt her when she knew that he was lying to her. In Narc, you get a wide array of characters from slutty popular girls to an independent character like Skully. I thought that everything in Narc was pretty decent. It had the right amount of action, drama and of course romance. I don’t have many complaints about the novel, it’s just that I found that it was missing a lot of detailing. You mostly get to see what Aaron’s thinking as opposed to knowing what the setting around him is like. Some readers may not like the vulgar language used in the novel, but it’s nothing too risqué. I would recommend Narc to fans of addiction stories, YA romance and readers who want a quick and dramatic read.
Read_A_Book More than 1 year ago
While I enjoyed the premise of this story very much, I found that it progressed a bit slowly and I never really connected with the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the novel, I just wasn’t as enamored as I thought I was going to be going in. Mainly, I wasn’t a fan of Aaron, and as he’s the protagonist, that’s a big deal for me. If I’m not in love with the characters, then I automatically won’t be in love with the book; just a fact of life. Aaron was an all right guy, trying to do the right thing, but his constant wishy-washiness really irked me. I understand that he’s under a lot of pressure from the cops, and that he’s “falling in love,” but even so, the fact that he couldn’t decide if he wanted to protect himself and his family or a girl he liked was a bit jarring. Perhaps it’s just me, but I believe family comes first, and since Aaron has just met his new stoner friends, Morgan and Scully, I don’t think he made the right choices when it came to family versus friends. But again, I’m not in his situation, so I can only say what I think I would do. And thinking I’d do something and actually doing it are two different things… so perhaps I’d be in the same boat as Aaron. But, characterization aside, I also had an issue with the fact that Aaron was forced to be a Narc at 17. Now, I don’t know the law, but Aaron states, repeatedly, that he’s under age and the police never spoke to his mother, so I got the distinct impression that what the police were doing was illegal coercion. Now, again, I’m not familiar with police policies, but threatening to throw a 17 year old in jail unless he becomes a Narc, without going through the proper channels, such as parents and lawyers, seemed a bit unreal. As in, I don’t think they can do that. But I haven’t researched this topic, so I could be wrong, and probably am. But either way, I found it a bit jarring. At least, if Aaron questions it, why not do the right thing and tell his mother? Overall, the story was interesting enough, though I wish there had been more action. Like I said earlier, it’s a bit slow, but towards the end it speeds up to a point that is a little overwhelming, and then everything comes crashing together. I wouldn’t say it’s a happy ending, but at least Aaron comes out of it having learned some valuable lessons.