Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell Review

Monday, June 11, 2012

Title: Narc
Author: Crissa-Jean Chappell
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date: August 8, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
"You're going to hate me forever when you learn my secret."

Seventeen-year-old stoner Aaron Foster was offered a choice: go to jail or turn undercover narc to find the dealer who's funneling drugs into Miami's Palm Hammock High School. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He's human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase who's obsessed with video games and street magic.

With a cop from Narcotics breathing down his neck, Aaron gets himself invited to parties where the deals go down. To get close to the school's biggest players, Aaron lies to everyone--most of all, the cute but troubled Morgan Baskin. With the Everglades party on Halloween night--and a planned drug bust there--just days away, Aaron realizes that he's falling hard for Morgan . . . and trying to protect her could cost him everything.
Aaron’s life has just gone from bad to worse. A night of speeding with his little sister in the car became a night in jail and the possibility of the situation becoming permanent. The drugs his car changed everything. However, Aaron has the opportunity to clear his slate if he wants. All he has to do is find the inner ring of the drugs being dealt at his school and report it back to the police. To some, this is an easy trade-off. Aaron gets to go to all the parties and simply report the information back. But Aaron realizes there’s more to it than that…especially when he meets Morgan. Being a narc could jeopardize his loved ones, his friends and, quite possibly, everyone he cares about most.

Narc is the brainchild of author, Crissa-Jean Chappell, known for crafting heart-wrenching, emotional and poignant novels regarding the human condition. This novel is no exception. Written from a male POV, which is tricky as it is, Narc embraces the emotional underbelly of society and brings the humanity of all its characters to life. The sparse, haunting prose isn’t flowery or too descriptive. Rather, the emotions, the themes and the pain takes center stage making the story incredibly raw and real, despite the dark tones. With extreme empathy and endless feeling, Narc soars.

I think it would have been very easy for Narc to become a trite, cliché and annoying stereotype of drug and substance abuse in YA literature. What impressed me most was the book not only embraced the male POV with ease, but it did it well. Aaron was entirely believable. His pain, frustration and confusion in regards to his difficult situation was tangible, and I felt for his situation. He wanted to do what was right, but he didn’t want to hurt anyone in the process, and he consistently felt like all he was doing was the latter. Narc lets you put yourself in the characters’ shoes, but it allows you to form your own opinions, as well. It poses the question about what you would do in such a situation without actually asking them; it makes you think. Perhaps the most powerful message within the story, however, was that Narc shows at that drugs do not define the people who take them, and they can affect anyone from any position on the social ladder. Rather than alienating the characters lost in the throes of addiction, the book places them front and center and allows you to access their humanity. With strong secondary characters and no shortage of emotion, Narc feels real. My only issue with the book was that it felt a bit too rushed in the latter half of the book. I, personally, would have loved to have seen it fleshed out a bit more to show a broader range of the fallout.

Overall though, Narc was a tremendous read, and it embodies the parts of contemporary fiction that I actually love. I give it a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA and adult fiction, especially those who enjoy contemporary stories and issue books.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Awesome!! After reading your thoughts I'm actually sad that I didn't pick up a copy at BEA! I love the idea and it sounds intense! :-)

  2. It's definitely intense, and she's such a great author. I just love her writing style! I think it's on Netgalley - you could probably snag it there!

  3. I need to read this immediately. Any book you've mentioned as much as you've mentioned this one is a book I need to get my hands on! Love the well-done male POV too, I always find that voice enjoyable:)

    Also, I adore you.

  4. my love for you is too intense to write in one tiny message here. js.

    also, definitely read this one. I'm in lust over it. js.

  5. Although I've been keeping away from contemporary YA lately, and despite the fact that I intend to do so for a little while longer at least, I'm very intrigued by this. I love that the novel was removed from clichés and stereotypes and that it explores the human, relatable part of troubled characters. Lovely review! I followed you back. :)

  6. This sounds fantastic Melissa! I always loved stories that brought emotion and a tough conflict. Aaron situation sounds extremely difficult. Awesome review! I always enjoyed books with strong male points of view!

  7. Thank you so much! I really enjoyed this one, and I think it will definitely find its niche in YA contemps :)

  8. I sure hope you'll give it a go! I think you'll really love it...Aaron is a fantastic character :)

  9. I'm glad this one worked, because I was really excited about it. I love contemporary/issue books, and finding one in a male p.o.v. is always great! I feel like very few are out there. Thanks for the review!

    Lauren from

  10. I really enjoy books that you can relate to and Narc sounds like it would be one of those books.  I love that we get to form our own opinions and that it really makes people step back and think about what they'd do in that situation.  

  11. I wasn't sure about this one, having the same worries as you about the treatment of drugs, etc. in this YA. So easy to become cliched. Great review--now I need to read this one!

  12. I love your blog and would love to give you a {Booker} Award. Visit to accept and read the rules!

  13. Hmm, this sounds really interesting actually. I have to say that a 17 year old going undercover is a little unbelievable, but I think I'd still enjoy it. 

  14. Sounds great. I picked this up from BEA. I'm excited to read it. Especially because it goes beyond cliches and she got the boy's voice right. So hard to do.

  15. I've never come across this authors work before, but it sounds like something that I would enjoy as I'm a huge fan of contemporary fiction, also books from male pov's! Lovely review Melissa and thanks for stopping by! :)


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