Mandy has had a crush on Gus since Kindergarten and she’s determined that this will finally be the year that they get together. Unfortunately, she sees him hooking up with her nemesis, Kay, at a party. Enter bad boy Caleb Torrs. Caleb has his own set of problems, namely a father who only sees Caleb as a failure and a stalker ex-girlfriend. As a way to solve both their problems, Caleb asks Mandy to be his fake girlfriend. Maybe this way Gus will finally notice her and Caleb can shake his crazy ex.
Let me first start by asking: Does this scenario ever happen in real life? I feel like all the time in YA books characters are like, “Yeah, let’s start pretending to date and that will solve all of our problems”. But then I’ve never seen this play out in real life? I mean, maybe it happened at my high school and I was completely oblivious to it, but this just seems like a made up scenario. But whatever. These books always end the same way, it’s just the getting there that differs and how soon the characters realize that they have real feelings for each other. Everything is so formulaic and I don’t really know why I keep picking these books up, but I do.
The characters in this book were interesting. I felt like the two main characters and a few of the secondary characters were pretty solidly developed. I liked that Mandy had both ADHD and dysgraphia though I’m not one that can say whether or not she was portrayed in a realistic way. I also thought her fascination with everything disco was interesting, but I thought the author may have taken that a little too far. It bordered on unrealistic in my opinion. Then she had her family situation and I thought that created an interesting dynamic as well. I didn’t like that she had such a hard time trusting her best friends, and honestly I found her kind of annoying, but she was fine as a character. Maybe I just found her annoying because she’s not really a character that I could relate to.
Like I said earlier, the plot was nothing surprising. We all knew how it was going to end–even the two best friends. I thought the author did a really good job with creating tension between Mandy and Caleb–probably the best that I’ve read from a book like this. However, that didn’t really make the plot more interesting. There still wasn’t any depth and I didn’t particularly feel like any of the characters grew from any of their experiences.
One thing that really bothered me throughout the book is the use of nicknames. They didn’t feel natural. Every time “Blue Ranger” or “Red Ranger” or “Demon” or “TDB” was said I cringed inwardly. It just felt so awkward and forced. I thought “Disco” was a pretty good nickname, but that was the only one. There were other interactions between characters as well that seemed flat, cardboardish, and obvious. Even though there was tension between Mandy and Caleb, a lot of their conversations had me cringing in embarrassment for them.
Overall, this book was really just okay for me. The characters weren’t particularly engaging and the story itself was not compelling. The main thing I liked was the tension that I mentioned earlier, but it would have been a lot better if the tension had been accompanied by strong characters and a deep plot.
Overall Rating: 2
Sexual Content: Moderate
Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.