Thursday, February 22, 2018

Heather Reviews: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Title:  Bookishly Ever After (Ever After #1)
Author:  Isabel Bandeira
Released:  2016
Publisher:  Spencer Hill Contemporary
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably one filled with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.
Everything changes when Phoebe learns that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her. So, Phoebe turns to the heroines in her favorite books for advice on a personality overhaul. Becoming as awesome as her book characters isn’t as easy as it sounds and when another girl nets Dev for herself right from under Phoebe’s nose, she’s crushed.
Then, to up the suckage, she gets assigned as his co-counselor at a sixth grade camp and has to spend an entire week tied to the hip with the one guy on the planet she wanted to avoid. Can she make it through the potential danger of romantic bonfires and nature walks without Dev figuring out she’s still not over him, or will her counseling career end in emotional disaster? Can she ever go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

First of all:  Trigger warning for sexual assault

This is the story of Phoebe, a girl who's very into books.  And knitting.  And archery.  And band.  And k-dramas.  And anime.  And cosplay.  Does that feel like a checklist to you because it did to me.  I waited for baking to show up so I could call bingo but the book ended and it never did.  I was kinda shocked.  Every time a new ~hot interest showed up in the book I just thought "of course" and "why weren't we told she liked anime before this point?"

But Phoebe is so into books that she has a hard time functioning in the real world.  She takes her cues about relationships from her fictional heroines, she has a whole notebook full of copy-pasted ~ideas that she thinks might work out.  Somehow they do, possibly because this too is a book, but instead of teaching the audience that it's just better to be yourself with your crush, it sorta says "put on a fake front and act like these characters until you win him over!"  Never mind that the guy in question had been crushing on "nerdy" bookish Phoebe BEFORE she got a makeover and started acting like her book heroines.

The writing/plot is kinda all over the place.  In the first few chapters alone there's band drama, then a dance that's also a Halloween party.  Later there's a Very Special Camp Episode, that camping trip was brought up earlier in the book but it takes more than half the book to finally bring it around.

The book sorta moves at a snail's pace too:  We know that Em wants to get Dev and Phoebe together, we know that Phoebe keeps waffling on her feelings for Dev and can't decide whether or not she even likes him, at about 50% it seems like finally she's decided she does like him, the heavens are about to open and they'll get together.  No such luck.

I'm a little uncomfortable with how the text describe Dev sometimes.  IDK about it but I'm a white woman.  Dev is constantly described as smelling "spicy-soapy."  He's an Indian character.

I'm also a bit uncomfortable with the hate Lexie gets for being ambitious.  I get she's a theater kid and, having known one in high school, I get that they can be a bit much, but every time Lexie's on a page, the other characters treat it as such a chore.  Em is also a theater kid, but it's not treated as bad, though possibly because she's not gunning for the same guy Phoebe sorta-kinda is.

However, for all my complaints, it's not all that bad?  It might be me getting older and mellowing out but I found it a little campy -and thus cute- in places.  I just wouldn't recommend it if you're easily frustrated by tropes.

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