by Simone Elkeles Print book : Fiction : Secondary (senior high) school
Not Perfect But Good Developing Romance   (2014-06-09)
When I first looked at this book I thought that it would be a typical YA novel. You know . . . the first person narrative, the typical bad boy that the heroine instantly falls in love with, the stupid forgettable villain, the drama that has NO significance to the story, and the side characters that are just there and don't matter.
BUT many people told me it was different and so I gave it a try. What did I think of it? Well, it was good. The couple in this book is probably one of the very few couples that didn't fall in love immediately and had to start from the beginning to work on their relationship. The characters were also memorable and fun to read. So, with those good qualities I thought that this book would be one of the best romance novels right?
Well, there are some problems.
One is the story. Its not that its bad, it's just that this story has been done over and over again. This story is just another good girl meets bad boy story. Which is fine if you could do something new with it and that's not at all what this is. And because we've seen this story so many times before, it becomes as predictable and clichéd as you can imagine.
That's also another problem with the book, the predictability of the story. Nothing in this story is surprising or shocking to the point where I'm having a difficult time getting invested. I predicted most of the events that happened. I know who lives, who the villain is, who dies, how the relationships turn out, and the ending.
Here are some examples of predictions that I found in this book.
In the first chapter of Brittany's perspective, her mother wants her to change shirt because she has peaches on it because a girl's reputation is what matters most.But Brittany thinks it's no big deal and covers it up with a scarf and doesn't want anybody from school meet her family because her family is not perfect. Gee, I wonder how Brittany's relationship with her parents will end up?
In Alex's first chapter it's a normal morning with Alex, his two younger brothers, and his mother eating breakfast. Gee, I wonder what happened to the father?
In their chemistry class, the teacher has them sit in alphabetical order to assign partners. Gee, I wonder who's gonna be partners?
We also meet Hector, who seems to be the head of the Latino Blood. Gee, I wonder who the villain is?
We also take a look at Colin and Brittany's relationship. He wants a little more than what they have and Brittany is not sure that she's ready. Gee, I wonder if he will push Brittany to have sex and cause her to separate further from him so she can conveniently grow closer to Alex?
See what I mean?
There is also a TON of clichés in this story and it does get annoying especially when they're predictable. But let's move on.
Ok, so those are pretty much the only things in this book that bother me and they don'tdestroy the book. I'm with the book enough. So let's talk about the good stuff because there are quite a few.
One thing that I really liked about this book is the relationship between the two main characters. Yeah, it's predictable and clichéd but it's not a relationship that had the two characters fall in love with each other immediately. Their relationship developed and had to grow from scratch. I really like how we get two people from two different cultures and two different personalities and we get a good and interesting romance.
The other thing that is really good in this book are the characters. Let's start with our two main characters.
Alex Fuentes is your typical bad boy stereotype and but also has an interesting personality. He's not only a lot of fun to read and follow, he is also supposedly dangerous and sexy. He’s arrogant, tough, intimidating, has good looks (of course), but also has an high level of confidence about him to boost. You knew it and he knew it too. His inner personality that was hidden from everyone else is very interesting to read about. He deeply cares about his family, he enjoys working on cars, he works hard to do well in school, and he decided that he will stay in the Latino Blood in order to prevent his younger brothers from getting involved with the Latino Blood and for them to live normal lives however they want. He’s a caring older brother with interests, hobbies, and goals. That’s a GREAT character. He has flaws, and he has a personality that makes him really likable.
Brittany Ellis is a stereotypical good girl. She’s the cheerleader captain, has the top grades, dates the most handsome boys, and always looks good. She’s practically the Barbie idol of her high school. She has parents who want to send her sister Shelly away because they’re apparently having a hard time taking care of her and of course Brittany protests and is willing to do everything she can to keep herself close to her sister Shelly. Even though Brittany is a good character, I just don’t find her as interesting as Alex. I’m sorry, I do like her but I’ve seen this good girl stereotype before. She has the perfect life but it’s only the outside of how her life truly is. But I will say that she’s more interesting than most heroines that I’ve seen in young adult novels. She’s caring in the inside but has her limits and acts like nothing can get to her on the outside, she's also hardworking, a romantic, into cheerleading, actually cares about school, and she has goals; one of which is to get accepted into a university that will allow her to stay close to her sister. And I really like that about her. Brittany’s goal is understandable and achievable, which sets her apart from most heroines in YA books.
The other characters are a lot of fun too. Paco is an enjoyable character to read. He’s funny, laidback, cares about his friends and sees them as family. The other school characters are ok but the only problem with them is that they are the type of characters that I’ve seen before. EDIT: Like the douchebag of a boyfriend who wants to have sex with the main female lead which causes their relationship to get strained. The ex-girlfriend of the guy who's jealous of his new girlfriend and acts very angry and mean towards her. The girl's parents who are outraged by her choice of her new boyfriend. The girl's friends who don't like the guy she's dating.
It wouldn’t be a big deal if there was something new done with these characters. It’s not bad, it’s just that I’ve seen this before and it would be nice to see something new with these characters.
If I did have one complaint, it would be that the villain is a little weak. But I don’t find that surprising, considering that defeating the villain is not the focus of the book. The focus of the book is where is should be: the development of the relationship between our two main characters, Alex and Brittany. I guess that makes sense since this is a romance between two people with two different lifestyles trying to get through their problems like everyone else in life.
But I will say that I really do like the fact that the villain in this book doesn't try to keep the couple apart. That happens A LOT in YA novels and it really gets old. (Not to mention that this book is not paranormal romance so it wouldn't make sense for him to get between them anyway.) He's just doing his business the way he's sees fit and I honestly think that he could care less about who Alex is dating. So I'm really grateful for that.
So do I like the book? Yes, I would consider myself a fan of the book. I just have a few issues with it.
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