Books

The Fill-In Boyfriend, by Kasie West 

   4.25 Stars

The Blurb: 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.

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be cute. This is an an adorable novel, with many factors I like in a book, although it was riddled with cliches.

First of all, this is quite a well written novel. While it is a romance, there is plenty of character development and self discovery as well, which is what brought up my overall rating. I’ve read Kasie West’s work in the past; her Pivot Point was an adorable and sweet novel as well. However, I wouldn’t describe Pivot Point-nor The Fill-In Boyfriend- as perfect.

The plot and overall story is good, typical of a normal romance novel. As our characters are entirely average in every way (no traumatic experiences or lots of angst, sorry), nothing extremely interesting happened that wouldn’t just happen in our lives; the downside of being extremely relatable is that this book can’t contain crazy (but interesting to read) events.

So, this means that the characters have to be exceptional for us to be able to keep reading without falling asleep. This is where the book shines. Gia originally came across as shallow and self-centered, essentially one of those “popular mean girls” that exist in every book and induce lots of eye-rolling. However, once she meets her fill-in boyfriend and his sister Bec (Who, by the way is hilarious and awesome), the character development is monumental. Gia is forced to face some hard truths about her life, and becomes a much better person for it. I’m not completely happy with the way things turned out for her, but the ending is much more realistic than a 100% happily-ever-after ending.

Gia’s fill-in boyfriend (and I’m not going to tell you his name because Gia doesn’t find out until well into the book) is absolutely adorable, but also irritating, meaning I loved him. He had some self-discovery to do as well, and I liked him because he wasn’t extremely dark and mysterious, drop-dead gorgeous, or any other stereotypical character type. Bec, his sister, was a really fun character and I loved reading about her close relationship with her brother. Even our main villain, Jules, who’s out to “get” Gia and push her out of the popular group, is revealed to have a three-dimensional personality as well. I would have liked to see Gia connect with her more, and although there was a perfect scene with so much potential where it looked like Jules and Gia could resolve their issues with each other, the book focuses on the romance too much to further develop and bring closure to this plot line.

My other problem with this book is the cliche and overdone story line. We have popular mean girls, a head mean girl, ignorant parents, a romantic interest that allows for the main character to see the error of her ways, a jerk guy that comes on too strong, and many others. The story became quite predictable, and I found myself unsurprised at plot “twists” that I saw coming from a mile off.  I don’t find this as that much of a problem though, because it’s already been established that this a character-driven novel, the plot is only there to enhance the characters.

Overall, The Fill-In Boyfriend is a cute and fun read, perfect if you want something light and not too dark or emotional. I’ve enjoyed all of West’s other works in the past, and her latest novel is no exception.

-Aliza

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