This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.
My thoughts are somewhat mixed regarding this book. I really had no trouble reading it and did enjoy the story but it was missing that extra spark that it would have needed to make it great. It was a book that was pretty easy to set aside because I never felt completely invested in the story. There were a lot of issues address in this story and in some ways it felt like nothing went beyond the surface level. I did find the book entertaining and am glad that I decided to pick it up.
Cliff is huge which is one of the reasons that his classmates refer to him as Neanderthal. He leads a rather solitary life and is dealing with the loss of his brother not too long ago. Cliff and Aaron are not friends at the start of this book. Aaron is the popular quarterback so he has very little in common with Cliff . When Aaron has a near death experience, he partners with Cliff to fulfill a to-do list that he received from God. The list is very specific and everything on it is tied to their high school. If they can accomplish all of the tasks, the school will undoubtedly benefit from their efforts.
This book touches on so many issues. I actually think that it would have improved the story if fewer issues were dealt with but in greater detail. Cliff and Aaron are not only dealing with their list but they are also developing relationships including their own friendship. Some of the items on the list sound almost impossible and other will require some investigation before they can even begin.
I liked the characters but I never felt like I completely connected with them. The book is told from Cliff's point of view and I didn't feel like I got to know any of the other key players beyond the surface level. Even during some parts of the book that were more emotional, I found that I was rather unmoved. I think I would have liked this book a lot more if I had been able to develop an emotional connection with any of the characters.
I did enjoy the story and thought that it had a lot of unique aspects. I do think that a lot of readers will enjoy this one a bit more than I did. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from Preston Norton in the future.
I received a digital review copy of this book from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley.