Playing Defense is the second book in the Corrigan Falls Raiders series by Cate Cameron. Each book in this series is a standalone story, though the characters are connected. While I liked the first book, I didn't love it. Sadly I didn't like this book as much as I did the first, and I think that this will be the last I read in this series.
Looking to add some extra-curriculars to her applications for college, Claudia Waring agrees to give tutoring a shot when her guidance counselor suggests it. Though Claudia doesn't want to tutor anyone, she has little choice as everything else is already full. But things go from bad to worse when she finds out that not only will she not be tutoring elementary kids, but rather fellow senior Chris Winslow. Chris is everything that Claudia isn't, he is a fun-loving prankster and a popular star of the hockey team. Soon Claudia and Chris are spending time together and not just trying to help improve Chris's grades. As they each begin to venture outside their comfort zone, Chris begins to wonder what a smart girl like Claudia could possibly see in him.
While I liked Chris and Claudia enough, I felt like they acted a bit immature and young for their ages. These characters felt more like freshman than seniors, and I just had a tough time really connecting to them. I didn't feel invested in their story and I didn't really see the connection that they should have been developing. While I did enjoy some of their moments together and thought that they were cute, I wanted to see more of them getting to know one another and it turning into something real. These two were so different from one another, and I never felt as though they really had anything in common to bond over.
I also wanted there to be more hockey. It was made a pretty big deal of that Chris is one of the team stars and the series is titled after their team, yet it was such a minor part of the story that it almost felt like it had nothing to do with the story at all. I also have to say that I absolutely hated Claudia's mom. She was awful and just made me extremely angry. The other thing that bothered me here was the fact that the POV would often switch in the middle of the chapter. It was a bit confusing at times to keep track of which POV we were getting, and I wish that had been more clear. Overall, this one was a miss for me even though I really wanted to like like it. What could have been a really cute YA story for me was cliched and tired, with nothing new or exciting to offer. It is a short and light read though, and if you are a fan of Cate Cameron's or the first book in the series, you might give this one a shot.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**