Thursday, July 2, 2015

Review: THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND by Kasie West

Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West

Summary: When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend--two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley. 

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party--three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. 

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship. 

Why I read it: It just looked so freaking adorable! So into my vacation bag it went. I read the first 50 pages on Day 2, and the rest on Day 3!

Thoughts: I enjoyed this book, though not nearly as much as I had hoped I would.

This was my first Kasie West book, and what I did love about it was the writing. There's an easy flow to the writing, but it's not overly simplified. Her prose is pretty, while refraining from being too flowery or pretentious.

I thoroughly enjoyed the main plot. It was pretty much exactly what I was looking for; a romantic comedy premise wrapped up in a young adult contemporary novel. Perfect. The way Gia's relationship developed with her fill-in boyfriend--whose name is Hayden--is so lovely and adorable, and I wanted even more of that.

But this brings me to the parts of the book that bothered me.

When we first meet Gia, she is a self-obsessed clique leader who is so oblivious to things around her that she doesn't even realize she's leading a clique. She lives in a world of tweets and retweets and hiding her true feelings to appear invincible from the outside. While it's easy to dislike a girl like that, it's also easy to understand her once you're in her head. Gia is somewhat petty and shallow, but she no one around her has ever pointed it out.

I never hated Gia, but I didn't sympathize with her at first. For the first 75-100 pages or so, I was enjoying the story from far away. I couldn't connect with Gia because she was so disconnected from real emotion, and I thought that the whole book was going to be like that. At first, Gia felt like a caricature of what older people envision teen girls to be like: selfish, obsessed with technology, and spoiled.

However, all of my concerns manifested into a subplot about how many teenagers today need Twitter followers and Instagram likes to feel validated. How teens carefully craft an online persona to keep people from seeing the real them and how they feel. And Gia definitely grew from all of these experiences, which I so appreciated. Gia ends the book almost a completely different person than the one she started as, and I loved that aspect.

I really did love the romance, as well. Hayden is so swoon-worthy, and pretty much exactly my type. He's slender, not overly muscled; he has hair that likes to stick straight up; and he wears nerdy T-shirts. A couple of my favorite moments in the book consisted of Gia describing Hayden's tees and not understanding them, because I definitely did. She comments on his "telephone box" shirt, to which he replies, "It's not a telephone box." TARDIS, anyone? Later, his shirt reads, "You can't take the sky from me." Anyone who weaves a Firefly reference into their book is a winner in mine.

As I said above, I love how their relationship progresses, with help (willing or not) from Hayden's sister, Bec. There were a ton of moments that left me with butterflies in my stomach, waiting to see how it would turn out.

On the other hand, they were about the only three characters I did like. I couldn't stand Gia's parents. They were exactly the kind of detached, "everything is fine, nothing to see here" parents that drive me nuts in real life, as well. Gia's friends are obnoxious. They are the selfish, spoiled clique of girls that I was afraid Gia was in the beginning, but they never get better. Hayden's friend (whose name I can't remember for the life of me) was also awful, in a realistic way. I've definitely known those jerks in my life.

I did end up really enjoying this book. It just took me quite a while to really get into it and connect with the characters. For the most part, this is a very fluffy, fun contemporary that I would still recommend if the plot interests you at all.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this book yet? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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