I had low expectations for Betting Blind, but the novel failed to meet any of them. From the writing to the plot to the (lack of) character development, there is almost nothing to bet on in this novel. Unlike that of a well-written, engaging story, I ended up finishing Betting Blind not because I was addicted or intrigued but because I did not want to go to sleep.
Gabriel James is struggling, to say the least. His mom is not only enraptured with Phil, who pays for their bills yet won’t leave his wife, but also is determined to get Gabe into college. Motherly love, right? Yeah, if only Gabe had the grades to graduate. In comes Irina Petrova, a talented, beautiful violinist who actually gives Gabe her number. Thus begins a whirlwind of a romance and Gabe’s downfall — in order to impress Irina and maintain his facade of wealth, he begins dealing drugs. However, with his lies spinning out of control, his mom badgering him to graduate, and Irina’s parents trying to isolate her, Gabe must decide who and what he wants to fight for.
Perhaps most disappointing is Gabe himself. Having read the synopsis, I never expected Gabe to be likable or noble, but I expected him to develop into someone somewhat likable. Instead, he failed to become more interesting, though his (lack of) actions made my rating of him plummet. The only person he can stand up to is his mother, and as the novel progresses, he doesn’t really stand up to her.
The lack of plausibility in the plot made reading Betting Blind less bearable. Sure, a talented violinist falling in love with a drug dealing senior is interesting, but when more outrageous events like driving off to Las Vegas occur, the story begins to lose significance. Even Gabe’s relationship with Irina seems far-fetched; their relationship is love at first sight at best, but more accurately lust at first sight. Betting Blind is less of a novel of self-discovery or romance and more of a compilation of crazy events. (Bartending, anyone? How about smashing a violin?).
Of course, Betting Blind does have its redeeming qualities. The author’s attempts to make clear that hard work, rather than talent, yields results is laudable, even if not executed well. Stephanie Guerra has potential to be a great YA author, although I will not be reading the sequel.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Publisher: Skyscape (November 4th, 2014)
Length: 258 pages (Kindle edition)