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The Friend Scheme

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Part thriller, part romance, The Friend Scheme is another twisty #ownvoices YA novel from Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest. High schooler Matt's father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt's older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt h Part thriller, part romance, The Friend Scheme is another twisty #ownvoices YA novel from Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest. High schooler Matt's father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt's older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt has other ambitions—and attractions. And attraction sometimes doesn't allow for good judgement. Matt wouldn't have guessed that when he makes a new friend, one who is also carrying a secret. The boys' connection turns romantic, a first for both. Now Matt must decide if he can ever do the impossible and come clean about who he really is, and who he is meant to love.


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Part thriller, part romance, The Friend Scheme is another twisty #ownvoices YA novel from Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest. High schooler Matt's father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt's older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt h Part thriller, part romance, The Friend Scheme is another twisty #ownvoices YA novel from Cale Dietrich, author of The Love Interest. High schooler Matt's father is rich, powerful, and seemingly untouchable—a criminal with high hopes that his son will follow in his footsteps. Matt's older brother Luke seems poised to do just that, with a bevy of hot girls in tow. But Matt has other ambitions—and attractions. And attraction sometimes doesn't allow for good judgement. Matt wouldn't have guessed that when he makes a new friend, one who is also carrying a secret. The boys' connection turns romantic, a first for both. Now Matt must decide if he can ever do the impossible and come clean about who he really is, and who he is meant to love.

30 review for The Friend Scheme

  1. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    New month, New Booktube Reading Vlog - tier-listing all the books read in July! The Written Review On top of that I'm too soft, too careless, too lacking in family devotion...I'm a good actor. I can sell it. Matt's Dad - ruthless, rich and ready to run this town. He's a mobster and he's gunning for control. Jason's Dad - strong, upstanding and ready to do what's right, no matter what. He's the police commissioner and he's going to take back his town. Matt and Jason together - sparks are flyi New month, New Booktube Reading Vlog - tier-listing all the books read in July! The Written Review On top of that I'm too soft, too careless, too lacking in family devotion...I'm a good actor. I can sell it. Matt's Dad - ruthless, rich and ready to run this town. He's a mobster and he's gunning for control. Jason's Dad - strong, upstanding and ready to do what's right, no matter what. He's the police commissioner and he's going to take back his town. Matt and Jason together - sparks are flying and they are irresistibly drawn together. But what Jason doesn't know, can't hurt him...right? He has no idea who I really am. Ahhh...this didn't go at all how I hoped. Sigh. I don't know if I've finally aged out of YA or what but this book just didn't do it for me. (And I was SO looking forward to it too). I think the biggest thing that kept pushing me out of the book was the style of writing. I don't use this often, but the writing felt immature. The close first-person felt like "thought-thought-thought" and while it kept the action high in the book, it prevented me from sinking into the book. There didn't seem to be much substance behind their thoughts and feelings. The characters felt like teenagers but the kind of teenagers that I want to shake and tell them to make better decisions. I couldn't get a clear picture on the characters' personalities other than videogames and liking boys....which, isn't a terrible thing per say but it prevented me from connecting to them. All in all, maybe my interpretation could be because I'm not the target audience? But I'm usually such a fan of YA... Thank you to Feiwel & Friends, and Netgalley for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Hutchinson

    Oh, this book. This swoony, dreamy book. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lanz

    To put it simply, The Friend Scheme is a Romeo and Juliet esque romance between two sons of mobsters on opposite ends of a turf war. I finished this book in one sitting. I enjoyed following the protagonist Matt as he dealt with his family’s harsh expectations. It was interesting to hear his internal monologue of wanting to escape crime, though unsure of how to tell his father without disappointment. Cale Dietrich’s writing didn’t have much substance to it. The text and dialogue felt awkward or ran To put it simply, The Friend Scheme is a Romeo and Juliet esque romance between two sons of mobsters on opposite ends of a turf war. I finished this book in one sitting. I enjoyed following the protagonist Matt as he dealt with his family’s harsh expectations. It was interesting to hear his internal monologue of wanting to escape crime, though unsure of how to tell his father without disappointment. Cale Dietrich’s writing didn’t have much substance to it. The text and dialogue felt awkward or ran on for too long at certain points without propelling the story much. While I was never truly bored, from an objective standpoint I can’t much praise the narrative. The romance between Matt and Jason was the pinnacle of this novel for me. I didn’t much care for the crime aspect considering it didn’t play a really major role. (Sure enough it does affect the plot substantially at some points). Most of the focus was placed upon Matt’s relationship, which allowed for a mildly enjoyable time all the way through. Though the characters in the end didn’t go through much development, and the writing wasn’t as refined as I would have liked, I did fly through this book really quickly. I’m interested to see how Cale Dietrich will improve as a writer in the future.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erica ♋️✨

    THIS BOOK COMES OUT NEXT WEEK AND I AM SO READY FOR IT ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🤍🤎🖤 I really enjoyed this book, i loved the cute romance scenes and the plot was really fun. However, i didn’t give this book 5 stars because i found the main character annoying and the decisions he made really annoyed me but other then that i would totally recommend this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Oscar

    Soooo.. I highly enjoyed this. Actually, I'm surprised too so don't ask me why. After reading this all I could say is that this book is not for everyone. It contains book tropes - predictability, gullible protagonist etc etc. - and other things that will surely make a person eye roll. I came here for the fluff and romance and I got those. Don't bother picking this one up if you're just going to complain all the way because I'm telling you now there's a lot to complain or nitpick about. Another, Soooo.. I highly enjoyed this. Actually, I'm surprised too so don't ask me why. After reading this all I could say is that this book is not for everyone. It contains book tropes - predictability, gullible protagonist etc etc. - and other things that will surely make a person eye roll. I came here for the fluff and romance and I got those. Don't bother picking this one up if you're just going to complain all the way because I'm telling you now there's a lot to complain or nitpick about. Another, the cover looks gorgeous though. It gave me Victor and Eli vibes from Vicious. Maybe the only thing that bothers me here is the build up in this. *snap* just like that all the tension and build up since day one has been thrown out of the window.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessi ♥️ H. Vojsk

    Romeo and Juliet with gangster families, but make it gay. 🌈 🌈 🌈♥️ Romeo and Juliet with gangster families, but make it gay. 🌈 🌈 🌈♥️

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Levenseller

    I loved this book! Dietrich has written a sweet romance with all the tensions and pressures that come from ridiculous societal norms. I laughed out loud. I growled in frustration. I rooted for Matt and Jason from the beginning. I especially love the deeper look this book takes at gender roles and masculinity. Keep breaking those walls, Cale! We’re fighting with you!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kai (CuriousCompass)

    THE SON OF A MOBSTER CRIME KINGPIN FALLS IN LOVE WITH THE SON OF THE POLICE COMMISSIONER. AND THAT'S ALL I NEED TO KNOW BITCH. YE SHALL BE MINE.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    4 stars. I was nervous going into this since Dietrich's debut was a bit of a disappointment for me, but I ended up really enjoying it! It was fast paced and I never wanted to stop reading, and I was surprised at how well I connected with the characters, considering that was one of my biggest problems with The Love Interest. Another problem I had with his debut was the writing. While it definitely feels stilted at times and definitely still seems a bit amateurish, it has absolutely improved! It's not 4 stars. I was nervous going into this since Dietrich's debut was a bit of a disappointment for me, but I ended up really enjoying it! It was fast paced and I never wanted to stop reading, and I was surprised at how well I connected with the characters, considering that was one of my biggest problems with The Love Interest. Another problem I had with his debut was the writing. While it definitely feels stilted at times and definitely still seems a bit amateurish, it has absolutely improved! It's not getting a full five stars for me though because of the again, stilted writing, and I thought the whole "my family is part of the mob" thing was kind of pushed under the rug??? But if I'm being honest here, I was just reading for the swoons. 🤷‍♂️. *Thanks so much to the publisher for providing me a copy of this to review!*

  10. 4 out of 5

    ♡ Dakota ♡ (Sarcasm is my middle name)

    Although I haven’t read The Love Interest I have seen the poor reviews. I really hope this author pulls a Margaret Rogerson where their first book is eh and their second book shows how awesome they actually are.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I had such high hopes for this book and I'm so sorry this novel didn't work for me. It's about Matt, who's part of one of the biggest mobster families of the city, and Jason, the son of a police commissioner. With this premise, I was expecting some kind of LGBT Romeo and Juliet with a lot of drama, action and also a little bit of romance. I know I was asking for a lot, but I didn't expect to receive such a boring storyline. Even in the moments that were supposed to be full of tension, to me ever I had such high hopes for this book and I'm so sorry this novel didn't work for me. It's about Matt, who's part of one of the biggest mobster families of the city, and Jason, the son of a police commissioner. With this premise, I was expecting some kind of LGBT Romeo and Juliet with a lot of drama, action and also a little bit of romance. I know I was asking for a lot, but I didn't expect to receive such a boring storyline. Even in the moments that were supposed to be full of tension, to me everything fell flat and sounded quite predictable. Plus, it was all resolved rather quickly and so easily. The main couple was cute, but they were always going back and forth on the same stuff, so it wasn't very interesting. Also, I would have liked to see more of Jason's background since there are clearly things which don't make sense at all. This was my first Cale Dietrich's book and the writing style didn't convince me too much. The pacing was just off. In general, this read disappointed me quite a bit.

  12. 4 out of 5

    RebecaReads

    Yeahhhh... no. I wanted to like this book sooo bad, so so bad! The idea was so original and refreshing but the execution just missed the mark for me. BIG TIME! Matt Miller was a little obnoxious and whiny, especially when he was with Jason. I mean not EVERYTHING Jason does has to be “cute”, Matt, relax. That got a few eye rolls from me, a lot of them actually. “Jason stretches his arms over his head” “Jason wearing a suit” “Jason looks at Matt and smiles” “Jason breathes” Cute. Cute. Cute. yawn Yeahhhh... no. I wanted to like this book sooo bad, so so bad! The idea was so original and refreshing but the execution just missed the mark for me. BIG TIME! Matt Miller was a little obnoxious and whiny, especially when he was with Jason. I mean not EVERYTHING Jason does has to be “cute”, Matt, relax. That got a few eye rolls from me, a lot of them actually. “Jason stretches his arms over his head” “Jason wearing a suit” “Jason looks at Matt and smiles” “Jason breathes” Cute. Cute. Cute. yawn After 60% I just started skim through the pages.. I don’t think the story had the fluidity that I hoped for. Yet another 2020 disappointment.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    *My thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for gifting me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.* It really kills me to say this, but I have to: ⭐ star The Friend Scheme is a YA about how two boys from rival gangs with a bloody history meet and fall in love. Now they have to choose between their loyalty to their families and their feelings for each other. This had all the makings of a great book. Romeo-and-Juliet forbidden love, rival gangs, the potential for a great, twisty betrayal and r *My thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for gifting me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.* It really kills me to say this, but I have to: ⭐ star The Friend Scheme is a YA about how two boys from rival gangs with a bloody history meet and fall in love. Now they have to choose between their loyalty to their families and their feelings for each other. This had all the makings of a great book. Romeo-and-Juliet forbidden love, rival gangs, the potential for a great, twisty betrayal and reconciliation...This should have been chock full of great tension and conflict and drama and romance, and unfortunately, it had none of those things. I rarely one star a book because there has to be just absolutely nothing in it for me at that point. I was really excited about this one and sorely disappointed at the result. The writing was very bland, the dialogue would go on for pages and pages and move the plot absolutely nowhere. Not to mention it came off as extremely childish. For two boys who grew up "adjacent to death", the thought process of the main character was far younger than his seventeen years. There was essentially zero conflict, nothing that lasted, nothing that pushed the characters or made them grow. They were the exact same at the end as they were at the beginning as far as I was concerned. It was just simply not for me. There was not enough to hold interest. I could barely tell the two leads apart. This one needed some more work.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    The son of a mobster and the son of a police commissioner falling in love?? The son of a mobster and the son of a police commissioner falling in love??

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sol ~ TheBookishKing

    You know that feeling you get when you start a book and you know in your gut it's going to be amazing and wonderful and you're going to give it five stars? This ... is the complete opposite feeling of hope and the exact feeling of despair. As soon as I got 10% in, I knew I was going to hate this YET I KEPT GOING. I don't know why, but I did and this is easily one of the worst books I've read in such a long time. I'm mad that I wasted 4 hours of my life on this, dear Lord. The covers nice though, s You know that feeling you get when you start a book and you know in your gut it's going to be amazing and wonderful and you're going to give it five stars? This ... is the complete opposite feeling of hope and the exact feeling of despair. As soon as I got 10% in, I knew I was going to hate this YET I KEPT GOING. I don't know why, but I did and this is easily one of the worst books I've read in such a long time. I'm mad that I wasted 4 hours of my life on this, dear Lord. The covers nice though, so there's that at least.

  16. 4 out of 5

    elise (the petite punk)

    Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Friend Scheme is a Romeo and Juliet type story following Matt and Jason, two teenage boys who start to fall for each other despite being from rival families. As their relationship advances, they must keep secrets from their families and each other as they figure out where their loyalties lie. I thought this was a super fun, fast-paced story about forbidden love and identity. The romance was great and I liked t Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. The Friend Scheme is a Romeo and Juliet type story following Matt and Jason, two teenage boys who start to fall for each other despite being from rival families. As their relationship advances, they must keep secrets from their families and each other as they figure out where their loyalties lie. I thought this was a super fun, fast-paced story about forbidden love and identity. The romance was great and I liked the characters. There were quite a few twists that kept me engaged. I also appreciated the conversations about being queer. I honestly had a hard time putting this one down! However, I think The Friend Scheme should have been marketed differently. This was really just a romance. I would have loved to see more of the thriller aspect in this story because I felt like it was really only briefly touched upon. I loved the romance, but if the goal of this book was to be more than a contemporary romance, then I think there should have been a bit more action, emotion, and twists outside of Matt and Jason’s relationship. The Friend Scheme had the potential to be so much bigger. I also have a feeling that this book is going to be pretty hit or miss based on age group. I personally enjoyed the rather simplistic, short writing and the plethora of pop-culture references, but if a reader doesn’t mostly read YA or doesn’t know most of the shows/movies/bands/songs/video games/etc. mentioned then I could see these aspects becoming a bit annoying. But again, for me personally, I thought this writing style was enjoying. Overall, The Friend Scheme is a quick story about love and secrets. I’d definitely recommend this to someone looking for something simple, cute, and entertaining with relatable gay representation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    maya

    oh this was terrible. let's start with the good things though: okay now that that's out of the way, i'm just disappointed. the premise made me expect a suspenseful romeo and juliet like romance, but it really, really wasn't. the concept was great, the execution... not so much. i wish the author hadn't done the telling instead of showing thing so much. about the romance: matt and jason had nothing but awkward conversations, no chemistry at all, and all of their issues were completely ignored in ord oh this was terrible. let's start with the good things though: okay now that that's out of the way, i'm just disappointed. the premise made me expect a suspenseful romeo and juliet like romance, but it really, really wasn't. the concept was great, the execution... not so much. i wish the author hadn't done the telling instead of showing thing so much. about the romance: matt and jason had nothing but awkward conversations, no chemistry at all, and all of their issues were completely ignored in order for them to have a happy ending. i didn't give a single shit about them as individual characters either, which just made it worse. just like the romance, the plot was rushed as well. despite all its potential, it fell flat too, mostly because it lacked depth and atmosphere. overall very, very surface level.

  18. 4 out of 5

    _The_Literary_Witch_

    Let’s start with the positives... The characters are cute! The MC is super sweet. Unfortunately that’s about it. The writing is just.. immature? Like reading a Wattpad story? Honestly, I’m not really sure how to explain it. I STRUGGLED to read this book. I didn’t want to DNF because I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately but it was definitely a struggle-read. There’s no depth. The whole ‘mob/gang’ schtick very poorly done. But I could see this book and it’s writing style appealing to a you Let’s start with the positives... The characters are cute! The MC is super sweet. Unfortunately that’s about it. The writing is just.. immature? Like reading a Wattpad story? Honestly, I’m not really sure how to explain it. I STRUGGLED to read this book. I didn’t want to DNF because I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately but it was definitely a struggle-read. There’s no depth. The whole ‘mob/gang’ schtick very poorly done. But I could see this book and it’s writing style appealing to a younger demographic, maybe 12-16. I give The Friend Scheme 2 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

    3.5 stars This was a really fun book that I didn't want to stop reading. It's dramatic and over-the-top and sort of ridiculous, but that's what makes it so much fun. Matt and Jason had such wonderful chemistry and banter - I loved them together and seeing them try to develop such a strong friendship first before romance, and how that foundation meant so much to the both of them was wonderful to see. I thought Matt was a great character - seeing his struggles of family vs duty were well thought ou 3.5 stars This was a really fun book that I didn't want to stop reading. It's dramatic and over-the-top and sort of ridiculous, but that's what makes it so much fun. Matt and Jason had such wonderful chemistry and banter - I loved them together and seeing them try to develop such a strong friendship first before romance, and how that foundation meant so much to the both of them was wonderful to see. I thought Matt was a great character - seeing his struggles of family vs duty were well thought out and we never looked down on him or lost sympathy for him which is important for someone in a bad situation. I do think the last third of the book felt quite rushed and easily resolved. I think there easily could have been another 100 pages to flesh out some of the resolutions and really build some tension, but it was still a fun story overall. I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I was really hoping to like this book because it gave off big Romeo and Juliet vibes. However, there were a few things that I just couldn't get on board with. The writing was very short and choppy. Many parts of the book were written one line after the other. Or short pieces of dialogue after the other. In a line. Like this. (This did make it quick to read, but I really did not connect with it.) There were quite a few times in the book, where the love interest wanted to talk to Matt about his feelings, I was really hoping to like this book because it gave off big Romeo and Juliet vibes. However, there were a few things that I just couldn't get on board with. The writing was very short and choppy. Many parts of the book were written one line after the other. Or short pieces of dialogue after the other. In a line. Like this. (This did make it quick to read, but I really did not connect with it.) There were quite a few times in the book, where the love interest wanted to talk to Matt about his feelings, being gay, his labels, his weight... And while this would not normally be a bad thing, it was written in exactly the same way every time and felt like the author was putting in these conversations because he felt that he had to, and not because it was necessary. I prefer books that include LGBTQ as no big deal. Maybe I have moved on from the more "coming out" type stories, even though I did not feel like this was one. Now, a semi-spoiler, but a pet peeve of mine in stories. Jason, our love interest, was lying to Matt about himself and his motives. Matt and Jason were in a relationship and decided to further their relationship, but Jason decides not to tell the truth until after Matt is basically in love with him and they had had sex. I really don't like this trope of miscommunication/lying when characters are supposed to be falling in love and then just get over the problems in the end of the story. I can see why some people might like this story, but it was really not for me. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    coriolis

    I was really disappointed by The Love Interest but I'm willing to give Cale a second shot soooo let's do it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Katherine

    It's rare that I dish out a 1-star review, but this one really worked for it. The premise was really strong, homophobia didn't win in the end, and Luke was a semi-interesting side character. That's about all the silver lining I could find here. I read a lot of YA and there's something to be said for a more simplistic writing style--this was just so stripped down to the bone that it lost all of its heart and soul. With the host of editors listed at the back, I'm a little bit flummoxed how that oc It's rare that I dish out a 1-star review, but this one really worked for it. The premise was really strong, homophobia didn't win in the end, and Luke was a semi-interesting side character. That's about all the silver lining I could find here. I read a lot of YA and there's something to be said for a more simplistic writing style--this was just so stripped down to the bone that it lost all of its heart and soul. With the host of editors listed at the back, I'm a little bit flummoxed how that occurred. A major advantage of first person is that you get a front-row seat to the narrator's thoughts and feelings, yet shockingly little emotion was ever conveyed. Show don't tell, I muttered at nearly every page. In the rare instance we got any insight on Matt's feelings, it was reported to us as dryly as the news--very little description or metaphor or even varied feelings words. I'm a counselor by day, and I wanted to pull out an emotions wheel for this kid. Please!! Express yourself!!! (Are we REALLY never going to deal with the dead mom??? Especially when coming so near to losing dad?? I understand Matt didn't want any part of this life, but the fact it's also never dealt with that he basically just shuts down and represses fucking everything makes me alkdjflkjsdlfjsldfj). The external dialogue was no better, even more flat and lifeless, which left the primary pairing completely without chemistry. Not everyone is going to be trading witty banter and clever quips, but my God, it was like a desert with no water out here, just a barren wasteland of pure vanilla, dry-as-dust chatter. Jason showed signs of life in the last fifteen pages of the book with his "you need to meet more people" retort to Matt's claims that he was the smartest person he'd ever met. I honestly can't recall another time. Somehow Luke was the strongest character on the page. He had actual dimensions (caring brother, devoted son, hardened criminal, fun-loving college student) and conflict, and expressed more emotions in his handful of appearances than his MC brother did in all of his first-person narration. I would struggle to tell you even three personality traits of the MC and his love interest. The premise was certainly the strongest aspect of this book--it just failed to embrace that and deliver in any capacity. There were moments it flirted with the gritty realities of mob life (Vince torturing, the shootout at the bar, etc) but we get so little processing from Matt. The narration swerved so hard from any real fallout or confrontation on the page, which completely eliminated the stakes of the plots. In some ways, it's impressive that a plot revolving around a Romeo-and-Romeo romance between mob heir and police commissioner son had absolutely zero conflict. All of the sloppy momentum that built up to that final Miller plan to stomp the Donovans once and for all was dealt with in a handful of lines in one of the most rushed endings I've ever encountered. That's saying something, as YA really loves to wrap a 400-page conflict in a few paragraphs. This was a big miss for me. I wish you better luck with it, should you still choose to venture forth, but I really suggest you don't.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mere,

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the e-arc in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely wish I had better news regarding this book. In fact, this was one of my most anticipated reads…and well, it fell flat. The unfortunate thing is I don’t have much to say about this book. It wasn’t a DNF, but it was close. There were a few redeeming characteristics of this book. This was an enemies to friends to lovers trope, queer Romeo and Juliet style. All of which were good things. Sad Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the e-arc in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely wish I had better news regarding this book. In fact, this was one of my most anticipated reads…and well, it fell flat. The unfortunate thing is I don’t have much to say about this book. It wasn’t a DNF, but it was close. There were a few redeeming characteristics of this book. This was an enemies to friends to lovers trope, queer Romeo and Juliet style. All of which were good things. Sadly, as I said, it all fell flat to me. The biggest problem to be honest was the writing. I did not like or enjoy the writing. Something about it bugged me the whole time. It just wasn’t for me. If this hadn’t been an ARC it would have been very likely a DNF for me on the writing alone. However, I decided to continue to give it a chance and hope the plot made up for it. The plot was fine, but the characters were one dimensional in terms of their development individually. I liked the relationship, and their dialogue but again, I wish I had felt more for it. The rep was really good in this book, and I think it was prominent and naturally developed. Overall, this book lands at a two star rating for the rep and the potential that it had. The biggest thing was this was OwnVoices and had a queer relationship, which I thought was well written. Note: I can’t speak to if the rep is accurate or good, as I am not a part of the target audience, although I did enjoy the rep as it was written.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shan( Shans_Shelves) 💜

    I’m disappointed, this was one of my anticipated releases and it just wasn’t for me. Review to come.

  25. 4 out of 5

    travis

    A disappointment tbh. I really wanted to like this; the concept of it is so good and so cool, yet it failed to deliver in any real way. I expected a dramatic crime thriller with gay romance, but instead got... boys talking about video games? Matt had such promise as a character. I really like the concept of this son of a mob boss being totally out of place in the world of crime. All he wants to do is play his games and watch movies and be gay, and I love that. But it's something that quickly fal A disappointment tbh. I really wanted to like this; the concept of it is so good and so cool, yet it failed to deliver in any real way. I expected a dramatic crime thriller with gay romance, but instead got... boys talking about video games? Matt had such promise as a character. I really like the concept of this son of a mob boss being totally out of place in the world of crime. All he wants to do is play his games and watch movies and be gay, and I love that. But it's something that quickly falls to the wayside. Hell, for most of the book you could easily forget that he's even connected to the mob. Most of the book is him hanging out with Jason and talking about stuff they like, to which the other always replies how much they like it too and it just feels like... not to be harsh but it's really like reading something cheesy from wattpad. There's very little tension in the story. There's no tension in their relationship. Matt and Jason like each other instantly and agree with everything they say, and even when they start having some minor quabbles later in the story, they're not even that serious, and it's weird considering who they are. So much of the book is just them having conversations with no real depth or meaning to them. I know the characters are teenagers, but sheesh. And it provided some weird whiplash at moments, because we would have chapters where they talked about games immediately followed by evil mafia uncle torturing and killing a guy lol The main conflict really comes from Jason trying to get Matt to talk about his family, and it just gets really frustrating and repetitive, because Jason keeps asking and Matt keeps saying no, and the whole time I just wanted to Matt to turn the question back around to Jason. If Jason wanted Matt to trust him, surely the way to get that was by offering up his own details about his family, no? But I guess that would poke holes in the plot and end the mandated misunderstandings too quickly. That said, I didn't understand why Matt thought Jason wanted him to talk about the deep mafia strategies or whatever. He could have just talked about feeling like an outsider in his own family without giving anything away, right? I don't know. This little "conflict" that ended up driving most of the plot was just frustrating and annoying. And then there's the reveal. (view spoiler)[For me, it at first made me realize "oh, that's why Jason was so agreeable with Matt all the time, he was trying to get Matt to like him and spill the beans!" but then Jason's like "for me it was all real from the start," and it's just like... oh you're just that boring and agreeable on your own? lol. Plus the whole idea of his cop mom's scheme is just... a bit too farfetched for me. She really wanted to go through all this effort with some awkward kid in an attempt to bring down a criminal empire? And I can't stop thinking about how using your own child, who's not even a member of the police, to go undercover and do this is... very ethically and legally questionable. Is that allowed? Why would you do that to your own kid? How did her husband agree to this? Surely there's someone Jason could have reported this to. Plus the reveal that they didn't even use Jason's actual school and they hired actors to be his "friends"? That's just a bridge too far for me to believe. It all just seems like an awful lot of money and effort on a real longshot of a plan. The idea of using your gay son to seduce/befriend a mafia son to take it down makes sense I suppose, but how it ends up working out in the story is just too weird. (hide spoiler)] And the ending... (view spoiler)[Everything wrapped up too neatly. Matt's father and brother end up perfectly fine, despite staying in the life of crime. The only one who dies is the evil uncle no one liked. Matt's father pulls the "you remind me too much of your dead mother so I was hard on you" thing and happily lets Matt go do his own thing. Of course Jason also manages to break free from his family and magically meet up with Matt again and get their happy ending. Of course. Of course. I never took their breakup that seriously because I just had the feeling they'd get together again in the end anyway. It all felt too perfect and too neat, after too little tension. (hide spoiler)] All in all, it's not a terrible book. It's cute and fluffy, and I did enjoy some of the moments between Matt and Jason here and there. The problem is, cute and fluffy weren't exactly what I was expecting or wanting from a book with this concept. It felt a lot more on the young side of young adult, and that's not a bad thing, but it's not for my tastes. I was hoping for way more drama and intrigue and thrills instead of cute conversations about Skyrim and The Killers. Such a great concept, but it never really lived up to its potential for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ugly_Duckling

    I liked it, but also didn't like it. The premise for this book was huge and as a dark romance lover I was super hyped for this and being it a BL novel, I wanted it even more. So, I got the book and read it in span of aprox. 5 hours - which is super fast, and I don't know if it's a good thing, or a bad thing. The plot is way too simple and shallow and characters are not that likable? Like, Matt's personality is few times okay, but other times he is just so plain and an actual douche and same applies I liked it, but also didn't like it. The premise for this book was huge and as a dark romance lover I was super hyped for this and being it a BL novel, I wanted it even more. So, I got the book and read it in span of aprox. 5 hours - which is super fast, and I don't know if it's a good thing, or a bad thing. The plot is way too simple and shallow and characters are not that likable? Like, Matt's personality is few times okay, but other times he is just so plain and an actual douche and same applies to Jason who is like ''I mean it'' and has this serious vibe, but in the end he is still a huge bluff and for the first time in a long while I was quite mad that the main leads ended up together. Even their relationship is messed up, like....if author has this mindset on relationships - not to be judgy - it is very shallow and just weird. Call me old fashioned, but I like stable relationships and not playing around which this whole novel is. And I think with this kind of plot, strong and stable relationships are needed. Also, the plot was very fast paced and maybe that's why I managed to read it in such a short period of time. I also disliked how there was so little of description? Sometimes I had hard time knowing where the characters were like - were they standing, or sitting? Overall the author needs to work a LOT on describing surroundings + give maturity and depth to his characters and also do not be afraid to ''drag'' things around because, trust me, it won't be dragging. So what if a book has 600 pages? For me, it is a joy not a drag. The author has clearly amazing ideas, but transferring them on paper is a bit difficult.

  27. 4 out of 5

    noveldoll

    i reallyreallyreally wanted to like this🥺 alas that was not the case but shit happens..

  28. 5 out of 5

    ari ari ari

    I would die for Luke

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Araujo

    I received an e-arc of this on NetGalley in return for an honest review. In The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich , Matt is just a regular High School kid who wants to survive. Except his version of surviving is a little different than everyone else’s. As the son of a mobster, Matt can’t come out to his father and family, and is expected to help take over the family business of being a mobster once his time comes. But Matt wants none of that, especially the whole killing people to make sure his I received an e-arc of this on NetGalley in return for an honest review. In The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich , Matt is just a regular High School kid who wants to survive. Except his version of surviving is a little different than everyone else’s. As the son of a mobster, Matt can’t come out to his father and family, and is expected to help take over the family business of being a mobster once his time comes. But Matt wants none of that, especially the whole killing people to make sure his family stays in control of the city. I got some pretty strong Romeo and Juliet vibes from the beginning of the book, with a gay twist. There’s two families that are at war over control of the city. There’s the whole, don’t trust anyone you meet because they could be the enemy, ordeal going on. But Matt ends up meeting Jason at a family bar and Jason seems a bit of a mystery and doesn’t want to talk about any of the family matters with Matt. I found myself curious as to who Jason was but also a bit wary that I had the secret discovered so soon. I was wrong. The book delivers some pretty strong twists that made me close the book and have to take a breather. I honestly did not see them coming and was ecstatic that I was caught off guard. The writing flowed pretty well which helped it becoming a page turner with a pretty fast pace. And the story itself was interesting enough to keep me engaged. I enjoyed the romance aspect of it and the mob storyline especially. I did feel like it could’ve been a bit darker with the mob scenes, but they were pretty great. I liked seeing the family aspect behind the mob scene, especially with the father. I did have a slight problem with a few things though. The language of some of the characters threw me off, perhaps because I live in an urban environment. I’m not used to people saying “golly” in real life and it made me disconnect a bit at times. There was also a time towards the end of the book when the MC, Matt, seemed to act out of character. I understood the effect it tried to had but I felt like it would’ve been better had it been a slower build to it, instead of his multiple character changes that took me away from the story. And like the first book the author wrote, The Love Interest, I felt like the beginning and middle of the story were super fleshed out and then the ending was a bit rushed. I would’ve loved to read a bit more about the journey to that point instead of it happening all at once. But most of the problems were pretty minor and didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the story. Aside from the romance aspect, I really enjoyed Matt’s connections with everyone else. Especially with him not being out, his interactions with his family is pretty nerve-wrecking that a lot of us have gone through and still do. Scenes with him and his father, especially towards the end were really good and added depth to the entire book. I also really loved the ending and wouldn’t mind reading a sequel about it all. I am also excited to see what else Cale Dietrich has to offer us in the future and how he evolves as an author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    iam

    While this was super entertaining and had a ton of great one-liners, I had so many question marks left over at the end and overall was just… baffled by how much potential remained unused. Read the full review on the blog! Content warnings include: violence, homophobia, child abuse, parent gets hospitalized; mentions of: gang violence, death threats, torture, death of parent, gun wound. Before I say anything else: on the off-chance that you haven’t already, DONT read the official description of the While this was super entertaining and had a ton of great one-liners, I had so many question marks left over at the end and overall was just… baffled by how much potential remained unused. Read the full review on the blog! Content warnings include: violence, homophobia, child abuse, parent gets hospitalized; mentions of: gang violence, death threats, torture, death of parent, gun wound. Before I say anything else: on the off-chance that you haven’t already, DONT read the official description of the book. For some reason whoever wrote it thought it would be a good idea to include the major plot twist at the end right there, in the blurb???? So, uuh, yeah. I included the version that’s on Nook, apparently, and doesn’t have that spoiler. The Friend Scheme has an amazing concept – high school student who is the child of a mob boss but isn’t interested in a life of crime is already great by itself, but make them fall for the enemy? Sign me up! It started out a bit slow, but engaging enough. I found Jason’s appearance to be suspicious and way too easily accepted by Matt, but that was acknowledged on page, so I wasn’t overly bothered by it. What I loved from the start and came kind of unexpected was the family dynamics: Matt’s dad might have been a crime boss, but he still cared for his sons! The casually domestic scenes were lovely, but also a stark contrast to the equally casual violence this family exhibits, except Matt was fine with the former but not so much with the latter. My overall bafflement (which, really, was disappointment, except I was too stunned to feel that) stemmed less from that and more from all the surrounding things. Over the course of the book, so many small threads of side plots, hints and info are given and developed. The most exciting thing about reading The Friend Scheme for me was taking all these hints and bits of info and try to piece them together in my mind, try to figure out where things were headed, who was planning what and had which secret and how it was all connected. I had so many theories and ways it could go, ideas about how things might converge and how they would wrap up. The thing is, I’m not mad that none of those things ended up happening. I’m always happy to be surprised by a book’s ending, when I can’t foresee the way things end. I also don’t dislike the actual ending as it turned out. My bafflement stems from how all of those little side threads, hints, information, little plots at the side…. where all dropped cold. None of the had any sort of conclusion, factored in any way towards the ending, or had any lasting influence on the plot. That just seems like such a weird storytelling choice to me. Like, why include all those little things and hints that created so much lasting tension and conflict just for them to fizzle into nothing, to not matter in any way? Overall, the book was still entertaining. I absolutely loved the concept and the characters, and the themes of friendship, discovery, family and obligation it explored. My issues lie solely with the execution, and are probably pretty personal due to my reading preferences. I received an ARC and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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