Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Fill-In Boyfriend review

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Keywords: contemporary, prom, popularity
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Other books reviewed: On the Fence, The Distance Between Us, Pivot Point & Split Second (all of them!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
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.
Super cute. Love that it still fits with the other contemporaries in Kasie West's collection, and they will all look so pretty on my shelves (once I can reunite all my books).

Here's where it gets tricky. I absolutely love Kasie's style. I'm pretty sure she could write about a toilet and I'd be beaming at the end of the story. No matter who her characters are, she makes us fall in love with their story, and I always feel like the relationships are happening to me rather than the main character.
I also really adored Hayden and Beca's relationship. Seeing such a wonderful relationship between a brother and a sister that weren't the focus of the story was really great. The relationships Kasie writes are so real and so complex that it totally sucks me into whatever family has that dynamic, whether it be all the brothers in On the Fence or this dynamic brother-sister duo that bashes stuff in at a junkyard to vent when they're angry. They also pose for their mom, who is an artist who calls them "her muses," which is hilarious and weird all at once.
Literally every one of Kasie's books just give me happy happy feelings.

Here's the thing. I feel like I have a lot of reservations, but I still totally loved this book. That's the thing about her writing, though, is that no matter how much you don't like some characters, you still get totally invested and love the story.
The first thing is the amount of stuff you have to simply believe for this story to even happen. Random college guy dating a high schooler. Normally doesn't happen unless they were dating before older person graduated. But fine. Guy breaks up with girl at PROM in parking lot and doesn't have the decency to at least do it before the actual thing? Also he had to drive like three hours, stayed for a half second and said "see ya?" Fine. Also this other guy happens to be sitting in his car and girl happens to think it's a fantastic idea to take new guy to prom as old guy? AND there's ZERO chance NO ONE will recognize him? But it's fine, I believed it all.
Which brings me to my second really big problem. Gia's friends and the way they treat her, AND the way she treats them.

I've seen a lot of "Jules is a terrible person" lately when reading other reviews of this, and yes, I totally agree. This girl is very rude, clearly ignores and doesn't like Gia, and she's mad that Gia is friends with her friends, or vice versa. HOWEVER, I haven't really seen anyone talk about how Gia is also a terrible person right back.
I mean, in the first chapter, we're already told from Gia's perspective that we have to HATE this girl, but I haven't been given a reason to hate her yet. When Gia's other friends tell her Jules is going through a hard time, Gia doesn't really let up. I was very frustrated that I was supposed to like the main character and hate Jules when both girls were being incredibly rude to one another.
If you haven't read the book, move on to final thoughts. The next bit will talk about the end. You have been warned.
I was also incredibly frustrated that neither girl seemed to want to improve their relationship or make amends with their other friends, and that Gia would so willingly let them go if it meant never having to be friends with Jules. I didn't really see any character growth, and that bugged me a lot. I definitely know about toxic friendships, but both parties here seemed at fault, and I was not seeing eye-to-eye with either of them.

I don't know how she does it, but even if there are things in the books I have a lot of trouble digesting, I still come out smiling and super happy after finishing a Kasie West book. It's a magical power she has, and she'll always remain on my auto-buy list.

1 comment:

  1. THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND was exactly what I had hoped it would be and I just loved it! I think I connected more with other plots and characters from previous Kasie West books so this one didn’t take over as my favorite of hers but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it all the same! I’m always so impressed with her storytelling and how she brings characters and plot to life.


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