Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
Reasons for reading: I love Gordon Korman; Young Adult Challenge; Four-word title for Four Month Challenge
Summary: "Vince Luca, 17, has a problem. His wealthy family runs the, uh, vending machine business in New York, and Vince is determined not to be part of it. Especially after a hot date is ruined when he finds that his older brother Tommy has conducted some business with Jimmy the Rat and hidden the messy and temporarily unconscious body in the trunk of Vince's car. His dad, the King of the Mob, is reasonable, sensible, lots of fun, gives great presents to his kids--and his name strikes the hearts of other mobsters to stone.
Although Vince keeps a low profile at school, his family connection brings him unwanted advantages, like the birthday Porsche that gets him arrested on stolen vehicle charges, or the football game in which he makes touchdown after touchdown because word has gotten around and nobody is willing to tackle him. Even private conversations at home have to be carried on in the basement because the FBI has bugged the house and an agent is always listening. Vince's life is inextricably tangled up with the family business, no matter how hard he tries to stay out of it. How can he show them he's serious? Then he meets Kendra, and when she innocently reveals that her father's an FBI agent--that FBI agent--it's a match made in heaven. He thinks."
First lines: "The worst night of my life? My first - and last - date with Angela O'Bannon."
My thoughts: My heart will always be with the first Kormans I read, his early humorous ones about MacDonald Hall and other boys-behaving-badly stories. But this one is a pretty good step up for older readers. It's a really quick read and I think it would appeal to reluctant-reader boys.
I have to say, it felt quite ABC Family movie-ish in places, but overall it was funny and Vince really does try to be a good guy, and it's great to see that he uses the mob-boss brains he inherited from his father in order to do something good. The book came out during the Sopranos era, and there's mention of the show, and I found that made it feel a bit dated. But, on the other hand, it's not like there's not always interest in the Mob.
One thing I found hard to believe was that Vince would only have one uber-geeky friend. There are a few cases where people are afraid of him because of his family, but it seems like not everyone knows. He doesn't come off as a geeky loser.
There are some very Korman-esque moments, starting from the opening scene where Vince's attempts to score with Angela are thwarted by the family business. And the "Uncles" on his dad's crew are done with tongue-in-cheek humour. The stand-out is Uncle Pampers. Nobody really wants to know how he "takes care of problems" for Vince's dad.
I'll probably read the sequel to find out if Vince is successful in escaping the family business when he goes to college. Something tells me that it's rather unlikely...