Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: The Kissing Booth


I've said it a few times on this blog but I don't usually read young adult novels. I'm getting better and I'm not dismissing them as I once did. So, when I had the chance to read The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles I decided to give it a shot. It sounded like something I could like (contemporary YA is definitely my favourite) and, happily, I ended up enjoying the novel immensely.

Here's the synopsis:
A cool, sexy romance novel written by seventeen-year-old British sensation Beth Reekles.
Meet Rochelle “Elle” Evans: pretty, popular—and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile—and a total player.
When Elle decides to run a kissing booth at her school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer. This romance seems far from a fairy tale.
Is Elle headed for heartbreak or will she get her happily ever after?
Yes, you read that correctly. Author Beth Reekles was just seventeen when she published this book. I admit that I was skeptical because I had no idea what the writing would be like. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality, thank goodness. Now, this isn't the next literary masterpiece but it was solid and enjoyable.

What the synopsis fails to mention is that Noah is actually Elle's best friend's older brother. Elle and Lee, a male, are essentially twins (they were even born on the same day - how fun is that?) and have grown up together. Now, at almost seventeen, Elle's realizing that maybe the crazy crush she had on his brother wasn't so crazy. The fact that Noah is Lee's brother could have been so much worse than it was if it hadn't been for the fact that Reekles was incredibly clear that Elle and Lee were just friends. He has a girlfriend, she's (secretly) crushing on his brother, and they have a super tight, really familial bond. Yeah, they love each other but it's so obvious that they're not in love with each other. It might not sound like much but it really made a difference when reading this story. Their scenes were probably my favourite part of this book.

Now, I'm going to get on my soapbox for a brief moment. I'm not that far removed from being a teenager and I can remember what it's like to be seventeen. I'm also not a super judgemental prude. Teens can do whatever they want as long as they're being safe about it and Elle and her friends seemed to be pretty smart. Enter this exchange closer to the end of the book, page 349, when Elle and Lee are discussing the fact that Lee did not sleep with his girlfriend on the night of the big summer dance:
"Really? I thought you guys would've by now."
"So did I..." He shrugged. "But she said she wasn't ready, so I don't know, we'll just wait till she is."
"Aw!" I cooed. I tweaked his nose. "You're whipped, my friend."
I have a few problems with this. First of all, they'd only been dating about two months. That doesn't seem like a lot of time, especially when they're not even seventeen yet (which is my second issue). Third, finally, and my biggest problem...since when is waiting for your girlfriend or boyfriend to be ready for sex being whipped? Have I missed something in the last nine years since I was seventeen or what? Sure, Lee probably wants to do it but he's being considerate and doesn't seem to be forcing the issue. I may be reading way too much into the novel but it just irked me that this was the tone that was present throughout the book.

I feel like I should also note that Noah wasn't the best guy for Elle to get involved with. He was violent (but, as was said on numerous occasions, he never started the fights *rolls eyes*) and controlling. Think along the lines of Edward Cullen or Christian Grey. I admit that I was surprised that Elle, a definite good girl, would fall for that but she was able to hold her own against him (no, he never ever physically hurt her and everyone knew that wouldn't happen). If it wasn't for the bit of spunk Elle had or the way the novel ended (which I appreciated even if it wasn't a tied-in-a-perfect-bow ending), I don't think I would have been able to look past this issue.

I know my comments seem pretty negative but I think these are things people should be aware of before going into reading this book - especially if you're recommending it to a teen yourself. There's nothing scandalous in the novel and it could start good discussions but I know some parents are super careful about what their kids read. Anyway, yes, these points are not so great but I really did like reading this book.

If contemporary YA is your thing, you should check out The Kissing Booth. Beth Reekles has written an enjoyable novel that's so sweet. I enjoyed it so much that I actually read it in one sitting. There are definite issues with it but I don't regret spending an afternoon reading it. This novel is an absolutely perfect read for the summer.

*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher, Random House of Canada, in exchange for an honest review.*

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