Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Alex, Approximately, by Jenn Bennett | some of the best fluff I’ve had

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4.25 stars

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I downloaded this book on somewhat of a whim, because I was slightly bored and disappointed with Hunted and its tiny-ass font (my eyesight is bad as it is), and I wanted a cute, fluffy romance to bring me out of the ‘slump’ I was in (which lasted for like 2 days but still). Fortunately, it did not disappoint in the least and is now actually one of my favorite contemporary novels ever.

First off, I have to say the writing and pacing of the novel are great. Bailey’s narration is so full of life and addicting, and I loved the small amounts of depth injected into it. It is largely a fluff novel, but I thought the discussion on Bailey’s avoidance of confrontation and breaking out of her shell was just enough to add depth, but not take away the sweet vibe of the book. What’s also interesting, is that several of the characters have experienced traumatic events or are experiencing difficulties in a broad number of aspects. They weren’t all addressed in depth, but it was cool how Bennett managed to mix those topics in and still create a happy novel with just the right amount of seriousness. I will admit some of those topics felt like plot devices to simply add to romantic angst (as if there wasn’t enough already), but the book was addicting as hell so I can’t complain.

Despite a few throwaway/unmemorable characters here and there, most of the characters were fairly well-written and thoroughly entertaining. Bailey was incredibly lively, funny, and witty. I could feel her personality dripping off the pages immediately and I liked her methods to avoid confrontation and talking to people (she calls herself the ‘Artful Dodger’, I can relate immensely), as well as her doubts and insecurities concerning love. To sum it up easily, I would say her voice sounded like a mix of Anna and Lola from Anna And The French Kiss and Lola And The Boy Next Door, which really isn’t a bad combination. Porter is pretty swoon-worthy, while there are a few moments in the writing that made me cringe (specifically when describing his physical appearance), it isn’t as bad as some other contemporary novels, and he’s actually a very three-dimensional character.

The book is obviously most focused on the romance and its development, and anyone who’s seen You’ve Got Mail knows that it’s essentially a mess. The reader knows that ‘Mink’ is Bailey and ‘Alex’ is Porter, but the characters themselves don’t know, and we are watching the slow but adorable process of them falling in love and eventually finding out in between all the drama. Bailey and Porter are painfully cute, some might think it’s a bit sugary at parts, but I loved both of their sweet and sarcastic moments. Yeah, their ‘archenemy’ status lasted for about 100 pages approximately, but the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. Witty banter, noticeable chemistry, and utter adorableness, what else does one need in a rom-com?

If I had to complain about something, I would say the ‘film’ parts of the novel were not enough. It’s clear that Bailey and Porter are obsessed with movies, classics specifically, but I do wish there were more references spread out throughout the novel. But, I loved this book, it was perfect for pulling me out of the sheer medieval fantasy of Hunted and putting me in a good mood. Would recommend to anyone looking for a cutesy summer read.

-Haven

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