3.5 starsStupid good is more like it. If you’re looking for a contemporary YA with an exceptionally strong voice, well-rendered characters and a realistic approach to family, friendship and first love, I’d have no hesitation in recommending this novel. I assumed that Stupid Fast would have a much larger focus on football – not unreasonably, given the cover and summary. But while Felton Reinstein’s newly discovered speed and size do gain him the attention of the high school football team, this is also the catalyst for a chain of events that unfold over the summer, and will impact his entire life. Herbach’s execution of Felton’s voice really is effective. It’s strong and distinct, consistent while still developing over the course of the story. This is first person at its best – as believable as if Felton was really speaking. Admittedly, it’s a voice that does take some adjusting to - Felton narrates with a unique energy and humour – but it’s compelling and endearingly honest. Discovering that he’s “stupid fast” means that Felton learns what it is to go from being a dork, to a being a.. dork that plays football. Along with his sudden induction into the world of jocks and pee-smelling gyms, a beautiful piano-player moves in next door, his best friend isn’t answering his emails, and his mother is suddenly exhibiting some very strange behaviour. And while that may all sound a little trite in those words, this really is a touching story with surprising depth. What prevents Stupid Fast from being too weighed down by the issues Felton faces is the humour. Throughout the novel, Herbach balances Felton’s journey of discovery and change with the warmth and authenticity of his characters – even during the sadder parts of the story there’s an undercurrent of wit that makes it feel realistic and honest rather than maudlin. This was a surprisingly engaging read for me, and I’m looking forward to following Felton’s story in Nothing Special.