3.5/5 StarsREAD THE COMPLETE AND ORIGINAL REVIEW (AND MANY MORE) AT WORD SPELUNKING The synopsis is for the Heavy Influence Trilogy as a whole so Skid Out, the prequel to this series, doesn’t cover all that the synopsis describes. But, this short novella does provide a great glimpse into what this series has to offer. BRIEF SUMMARYJake is the hot older guy next door and Alyssa is the young, blossoming freshman. Jake is the front man for a rocking, up and coming band that is about to take off. He’s not lacking in female attention, but his attention lately has been lingering on his next door neighbor Alyssa who’s not so little anymore. Alyssa doesn’t really notice Jake until her friend points out how hot he is, then all she can do is notice him. These two quickly find themselves pulled to one another and enjoy getting to know each other as the people they’re growing up to be. STORYAs a novella, Skid Out is short, but it packs a lot of emotion and build up into its brief 56 pages. Author Ann Frohoff has set up her new trilogy nicely in this prequel and has definitely grabbed my interest and attention.The framework for the Heavy Influence Trilogy is deftly erected in Skid Out. This novella only covers the span of a day, but the characters, their personalities, situations, and conflicts are nicely developed and given a solid foundation on which the trilogy can grow.There’s a great edgy realism to Frohoff’s story and characters, and one can tell that this series is only going to get grittier and edgier with each book. The characters are teenagers and they act like teenagers. They curse and whine and say mean things and act overdramatic; they’re three-dimensional and realistic. The dialogue is interesting enough, but I didn’t find it overly refreshing or original. The humor falls a bit flat and some of the dialogue felt awkward. But, what the characters and the story are trying to convey does come through.The story itself plays out how you would expect it to, but this isn’t a bad thing or even a significant thing. From the very first chapters, you easily get a sense of where the story is headed, but I think you’re supposed to because this gives you a clear and complete view of where our characters’ heads are at. The familial relationships are a little stereotypical- distant parents, rivalry among the siblings, snarky teenagers- and I’m hoping Frohoff adds a bit of freshness to these relationships and situations in the series. And by stereotypical, I don’t necessarily mean unrealistic or boring; just predictable. But I do understand the purpose of such familial relationships and their usefulness in bringing our two main characters together and giving them something to bond over.Skid Out ends in a really great way that definitely has me wanting more.Music plays a big role in this novella, and in the series I’m sure, and I think it’s super cool that the books will feature original songs. The original song in Skid Out is “Transpose”, performed by Bad Suns which can be listened to HERE. CHARACTERSSkid Out is told from both Jake and Alyssa’s point of views, allowing us an intimate look inside their minds and giving us a chance to really get to know these two.Alyssa is on the timid side, but has a fiery spark inside her, which I liked. Her vulnerability, awkwardness, and habit of embarrassing easily make her endearing. She’s a realistic and relatable 14 year old girl, and she’s easy to like.I found Jake a bit harder to like. He’s a teenage guy, so he’s kind of rough around the edges, but not in an endearing or charming way. He does and says some things that make me want to slap him, yet I get why Alyssa is attracted to him. I think his character is supposed to come off as cool but laid back, cocky but sensitive, confident but genuine. And I did totally get that from and about him, but I think it’s going to take some time for me to warm up to him. I do think there’s more to him than we get to see in this novella and he has the potential to be a really deep, layered character. ROMANCEFrohoff has created a very realistic, believable teenage romance. At this point in the story, Jake and Alyssa are just getting to know each other again and their pull toward one another stems mostly from lust. Their quick attraction reflects the fleeting way many teenage relationships begin and end. And the chemistry between the two is quite palpable. The age and experience difference between the two feels almost like a corporal thing and has a dominating presence, which makes for what is sure to be some excellent drama.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Skid Out is an effective, well written prequel to a series that shows a great deal of promise. This novella is worth the read and I’ll definitely be reading the next installment.