Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Seventeen year-old dirt-bike daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family. ADIOS, NIRVANA author Conrad Wesselhoeft takes readers from the dusty arroyos of New Mexcio to the skies over war-torn Pakistan in this young adult novel about daring to live in the wake of unbearable loss.

Description taken from Goodreads. 

This is hands down one of my favorite middle-grade/YA books that have released this year.

I absolutely loved Arlo and the things he went through in story. All the elements to it–the stunts, the hobbies, the video games, they were all great. And the bigger themes to the story (the plot, the writing, the characters) were all well-thought out and fleshed out. This is a great story for 12-15 year olds with a sweet romance, lessons that aren’t overbearing and a heartwarming, funny and well-told plot.

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It’s so hard to express how I feel about books I love.

Okay. What I loved specifically about the plot and the characters that lead the story (as well as the ones who support the story from behind everything).

I liked how strong everything was. The realistic part of it all. I liked the specific ethnicity and the struggles Arlo went through. His family and friends dynamic was great. Family plays a huge part in this book and I loved the way that Arlo’s relationships were portrayed, the way he was put on the spot when he’s just a kid trying to juggle all the things that life is throwing at him. The romance wasn’t obnoxious here or made more serious just because Arlo is set as an older character. In fact, the romance is well-done and not an instalove at all.

Then there comes the hobbies.

There are so many different games and hobbies and new experiences that Arlo goes through in this book, which was fun to read about. There’s never a dull moment in this book. The title truly does explain this book, even though it is really long. I appreciated all the things Arlo learned in this story and the way he grew in a realistic way all throughout the plot.

All in all, I loved this story and it was extremely pleasantly surprising for me. I’ll be sure to be picking up more of Wesselhoeft’s books later on. For now though, this will definitely be reread. 4 stars.

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