Combustible is a wonderful story about two young men who are best friends, Dean Stockton and Curt Hutton. The story takes place the summer before they both go off to college in the boys’ hometown of Gold Beach, Oregon. Dean is a computer science major and Curt is still undecided, however, they have decided to go to the same school to stick together. Both Dean and Curt row under Coach Alt who owns the Rogue River Rowing Club and are Coach Alt’s best recruits. Throughout the book, the coach treats Dean and Curt as if they are his own sons, urging them to do their best and giving them everything he’s got in terms of coaching. Both Curt and Dean also work at the restaurant the coach owns, The Sandpiper Bar & Grill. Curt soon finds himself a girlfriend whom they all call Smiley and much of his summer is taken up by hanging out with her. Dean also finds himself a girl to date; a girl named Rachel whom he had casually dated once before. The pairs spend their summers double dating and having a fun summer and just waiting to see what their futures hold.
Combustible is not without conflict as the boys start to find themselves as college days near. Everything is a learning experience and as Curt goes away to a rowing event where he could be scouted for a scholarship, Dean is left to entertain Smiley, Curt’s girlfriend. Throughout the book, there is a lot of interaction between Dean and Smiley because Smiley goes to Dean for advice about his best friend and why he doesn’t treat Smiley as well as he should be. I wondered, as I was reading if Dean and Smiley would end up together, which I feel was the author’s intent in creating this friendship.
The storyline of this book moved quickly and kept me interested. The dialogue between characters was realistic and I really liked all of the characters in the book. There were even parts in the book that made me chuckle. The author did a great job of bringing each character to life. Although Combustible is not a long read, it tells the story perfectly without beating around the bush. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light read with a satisfying plot and interesting characters.
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