DJ Schwenk survived summer. She's got her best friend, Amber, back. She's got Brian Nelson, cute and popular and smart. She's made it onto her high school football team. Everything seems to be looking up... and then it all goes horribly wrong.
This book is the sequel to Dairy Queen, which has a place of honor on my shelf of good books. So I had really high standards, and The Off Season lived up to them.
The plot is basically DJ trying to survive the ups and downs of her tumultuous eleventh-grade year, and it's not thrillingly exciting or action-packed. It is cute, endearing, and enjoyable, as is the ending.
I'm just going to come out and say it: Murdock writes some of the best characters I've ever read about. DJ herself is amazing, complex and realistic. Brian is a Prince Charming with his own personality and his own flaws, not just a little star to obediently orbit DJ, which is sadly rare in love interests. The only way I can describe the characters, really, is real. They're gritty, flawed, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes wonderful, and just so real.
Murdock's writing is appealing. It's not perfect, sometimes there's too much or too little description, all the things I usually gripe about in this section. But there's just something intangible about her writing that makes her books fun to read.
End Result: four stars. A good book, definitely worth your time.