Andrew Smith is one of my new favorite authors, and Ryan Dean West is one of my favorite fictional characters because he doesn't feel like a fictional character. He deals with real problems and usually fucks up because he's human. There's a big difference between Winger and Stand-Off, but that's not a bad thing.
Stand-Off reminded me a lot of the video game Bully, whereas Winger reminded me of that eighties flick Lucas. Who out there remembers Lucas? Corey Haim and Kerri Green, and Charlie Sheen before he started banging coke and hookers in equal amounts? #tigerblood #duhwinning
Winger was a wonderful novel that had an unforeseen outcome. In Stand-Off, I expected the same thing. I will not spoil the novel for you by telling you the ending, but I was taken aback by how poignant and hopeful it is in comparison to how soul-crushing the first book was. What I can say is that Stand-Off is the complete opposite of Winger, yet it retains everything I loved about the first book. I don't see how Smith could do a third book, seeing as how this was Ryan Dean's last year at Pine Mountain, and that breaks my heart. I would love more from these characters.
I was glad to see Annie and Seanie return. Spotted John was a trip, and in my opinion, wins the book. He reminded me quite a bit of Red in The Shawshank Redemption with how he could get his hands on anything. I even liked the Abernathy. The character development between Sam and Ryan Dean was handled very well. Their interactions were highlights for me. The dialogue assignment they do had me busting a gut... Do yourself a favor, just read it.
If someone were to ask me if they could read one book without the other, I'd have to say no. To receive the full effect of Stand-Off, you most definitely need to read Winger first. You won't necessarily be lost if you skip the first book, but the second book will certainly not have the same emotional impact if you decide to skip Winger. Likewise, if you've read Winger, you really should read Stand-off. Yes, they compliment each other that well.
In summation: I can't find a single negative thing to say about this book or any of its characters. It isn't as tear-inducing as its predecessor, but I think that helped in making Stand-Off its own thing. For what it lacks in sad happenings it makes up for in good times. Highly recommended.
Final Judgment: Sometimes, you just need a little comedy in your life.