I received this book from netgalley for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own however.
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.
But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
I was pretty stoked about this book. I’ve been really digging the sweet contemporaries about nerdy/geeky/ people lately. And what’s better than a character who is BOOKISHLY geeky? #Relatable. And this ya story does set up for a sweet contemporary. It’s set in a modern high school. There is a group of friends. And a love story. But I can’t lie to you guys, I struggled with parts of this book. To be perfectly honest, I DNF’d at around 50% and skimmed the rest. It was so frustrating because I would be highly invested for like two chapters and then one of five-ish things would happen that would jerk me back out of the story and make me annoyed. I couldn’t stay invested for any real length of time which when reading means everything. However I do realize that not everyone comes with the same life experience or annoyances as I do so I’m gonna list the stuff that pulled me out of the story. If none of these actions are things that bother you then I do suggest you try this book out.
Things that Irked Sydney
1. The book within a book
In Bookishly Ever After, Phoebe is obsessed with a paranormal series called Golden. Similar to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, certain chapters contained excerpts of the book she was reading. I didn’t like it in Fangirl, and I didn’t like it in this book either. It was distracting to go back and forth between the two character sets and between contemporary and paranormal setting. I started skimming the excerpts.
2. Peers reaction to book community
I totally bought into Phoebe and her bookish habits. She would stay up all night reading and have a book hangover the next day. She was introverted and preferred knitting to sports. Cool. What I didn’t buy into was her peers reaction to her reading. Everyone, including other nerds, made Phoebe out to be weird and a social pariah because she would rather read than talk to boys. I don’t believe that. Not because I think Phoebe isn’t a nerd. But because nerds stick together. You’re a computer nerd? Great. I’m not gonna make fun of you for liking computer stuff and you don’t make fun of me for reading. I’ve never seen a high school group that openly mocked/ ridiculed/ and loudly judged someone who read. Yeah, we were the kids often alone at lunch. But our preferences weren’t thrown in our face as socially unacceptable. This leads me to my next issue.
3. Phoebe’s Best Friend Em
Em was awful. In more ways that one. But for this particular issue I’m going to talk about one of her habits that just didn’t jive with me. She regularly talked down to Phoebe. She was loudest of those who put Feebs down for having book boyfriends but being nervous to talk to real guys. She had no empathy, no compassion, and no idea that she was a nerd herself. I mean dude, you’re in the freakin’ band AND drama club. You aren’t so cool yourself. Em forces Phoebe into situations that she KNOWS Phoebe is uncomfortable with “for Phoebe’s own good.” Um Bull. By the time I was in high school I a) didn’t let other’s push me into stuff that made me physically uncomfortable and b) would NEVER let my best friend talk down to me. Part of being best friends is showing each other mutual respect and understanding. Em had none of that.
To make Em even better as a character she said few racist things. I’ll list just two of them here.
(in this scene Em is trying to hit on/flirt with a German Foreign Exchange student)
“Well, Miss AP English, finish that up quick and then get to work on Jon. I’m getting my remedial English butt back to my English as a Second Language Project.”
“So what do you say about dating our Bollywood Casonova?” ( Dev is Indian)
I just wasn’t okay with Em’s attitude in general and when she would say things like this it rubbed me wrong.
5. If you like me I guess I like you
The entire premise of this story is set around Dev crushing on Phoebe and Phoebe wanting to impress him so she changes her self only to decide she likes her real self better. Even if I take out the fact that Feeb’s friends pushed her into changing herself FOR Dev, what was missing in the beginning was feelings for Dev. From the first chapter Phoebe makes it apparant that she is crushing on a boy named Kris. Em decides that Dev has a crush on Phoebe, which granted he does, and then pushes Phoebe to make her move. Phoebe didn’t even like Dev!! Em just wanted Phoebe to have a boyfriend. Anyone would do. I call this Ariel syndrome. In the Little Mermaid Ariel is obsessed with humans. She gives up her voices not because she is in love with Eric specifically but because she loves human. Anyone could’ve fallen off that ship and she would have wanted to be “part of that world.” Phoebe realizes Dev likes her and decides to think about him romantically. What an inspiration for our teens… NOT. Later in the book Dev and Phoebe do build a friendship strong enough to base a relationship off of. But the Ariel syndrome Phoebe went through to get there ruined it for me.
All those things considered I will say that the writing style wasn’t bad. The excerpts may have not be my preference but they could be someone elses. The insight into the bookish life was crazy accurate. And the plot was interesting. If I hadn’t hated the characters and how the plot came together I might have enjoyed this book more. It was full of cute and sweet moments, including sweet book moments. If you’re looking for a fun summer contemporary and you can relate to having a rude best friend then by all means try this story out!
Have you guys read this book? Do you like/crave books about geeky characters? Let me know in the comments below. I hope you’re having a marvelous Monday! ttfn!