Wednesday, January 28, 2015

{BookTalk} To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1: Jenny Han

Rating: 79%
Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult, 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Page Count: 355
Format: Hardcover
Source: The Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Disclaimer: Loving the Language of Literacy declares Book Reviews as non-spoilers discussions for the novel while BookTalks are reviews containing CLEARLY marked spoilers and you may read the BookTalk if you avoid the spoilers.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of cutesy contemporary authors such as Jennifer E. Smith, Morgan Matson, Emery Lord, Robin Benway, Kasie West, Kelly Fiore, Julie Anne Peters

Would I Buy It?
I'm just going to get over the shameless self promo that accompanied my review of The Winner's Curse (Marei Rutkoski) because as you can tell, I own a copy of this novel & have felt the need to take artsy instagram photos of it.

Background & Backstory?
I got this book during Book Outlet's HUGE sale for a killer price and actually didn't intend to read it until the mood struck. Yet, I saw my friend Alex @ The Book's Buzz do a haul including this novel and asked if she would like to buddy read it with me. She said yes and our initial start date for the novel was 1/24, aka the day I'm writing this review.... at an ungodly hour because I NEEDED to finish this novel. 

I started reading To All The Boys I've Loved Before on the 23rd of January in Social Studies and immediately fell in love. I picked up from where I left off from when I departed from school for the weekend on page 60 and read all 295 pages in one sitting (or lying) considering I'm in bed right now. THAT is how good it was and I would highly recommend reading it.

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
I actually would be happy without a sequel.

Premise | 100%: Can we just discuss how insanely wonderful the premise of To All The Boys I've Loved Before is? The entire set-up for the plot/characters/romance/dynamics spells out the kind of trouble you love to read about. Automatically you know what type of girl Lara Jean is, because you all have one, know one, or are one "goody-two-shoes types that never take risks." Paired with her letters being sent out = a perfect contemporary novel. 

*Sidenote: If you are going into this novel expecting Lara Jean to deal with the aftermath of EACH and EVERY boy she writes a letter to, that's not going to happen. In fact, she only interacts on a chapterly basis with Josh and Peter, the two main male characters. 

Plot | 70%: The plot of this novel (turn of events) was truly one of my only qualms about the entire novel. I've complained time and time again about cutesy-contemporaries and my capacity to easily get bored while reading them. It wasn't even that I was bored with To All The Boys I've Loved Before, merely that I felt the absence of magic/apocalypse/totalitarian government, but that didn't make the story that was told any less.

Characters | 85%: I loved each character for their own reasons and they all went through extensive character development on top of being well developed in the first place. There was not a single second where I felt that I didn't have a firm grasp/connection with the characters.

Lara Jean - I heard a ton of complaints from Bloggers and BookTubers alike who believed Lara immature and unreliable because of her actions that did not seem "normal" for a 17 year old. However, I didn't have that particular issue of maturity. Based on her environment growing up and family we got to know and love so well, I could completely understand where she was coming from. An issue a lot of people addressed was her calling her deceased mother "Mommy." They believed this to be childish. Yet, it was completely understandable, because she passed away when Lara was so young that to remember and hold onto her mother's memory, she called her "Mommy" throughout the story. Lara Jean behaved in such as naive manner when it came to love/romantic experiences and that was my main complaint for her. I've obviously never been in her position, but I still wouldn't have held myself back as much as she did and made her life revolve around her family SO much.

Kitty & Margot - Lara Jean's oldest and youngest sisters were lovely additions to the story. Margot was the OCD (and somewhat anal) sibling that was constantly on top of things and pretty much ran the household since her mother's passing. She goes off to college in Scotland, providing the needed umph for Kitty, Lara Jean, and her father to become more independent. Kitty provided a fresh perspective and was the little spit-fire sister, way too smart for her own good that everyone is annoyed by but secretly loves. The two of them provided great contrast and I loved reading about the dynamic between them, deeper than sisterhood, that was forged when their mother passed away.

Josh & Peter - Josh and Peter are two of Lara Jean's letter recipients as well as the gentlemen that get tangled up with the Song sisters. Josh played the classic boy-next-door role and didn't seem very personality filled whatsoever. However, sporty, stud Peter is his direct opposite. Nevertheless, both have known Lara Jean for many years and were objects of her affections, and in some cases, these feelings were returned. It's always funny who you think you're on one team of the romance, then immediately switch when introduced to the other love interest. That's the way it was for Josh and Peter. I read about Josh, shipped Lara/him together, read about Peter, and KNEW I needed them together. 

Romance | 75%: The romance started off as a ploy from Lara Jean to make Josh believe she was dating someone and not still in love with him. This is a trope I don't usually enjoy in books, especially in YA literature, but I liked the way it worked in this particular novel. Obviously, over time, they grew to know/respect each other, causing them conflicts between exes, friends, and siblings.

Cover | 100%: Let me sing it to the heavens how much I LOVE this cover. The sharpie effect the title has is wonderful, combined with the wall decorations that make the room seem extremely tumblr-esque. The model they chose actually looks korean and the expression is exactly one I could imagine Lara Jean having. All in all, the cover and title encapsulated the book in the most perfect way possible. 

Ending | 50%: I didn't love the ending. I didn't hate it. When I saw The Book Basement's BookTalk, I spoiled myself and she said it was a really obvious person to send out her letters. The entire time,  I theorized characters and attempted to decipher motives, but never would have guessed Kitty. It seemed like such an easy option, kind of like the butler you oversee as the murderer. I'm most definitely plan on reading the sequel, but don't often have much luck with sequels in contemporary series.
***End Spoilers***

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
Even before finishing To All The Boys I've Loved Before, I put The Summer I Turned Pretty and Burn For Burn on hold at the library because of how much I enjoyed this novel. I will most likely read them in February/March when they arrive at my library when I need another contemporary kick.

Conclusion: Wonderful novel with a quirky premise destined to go down in contemporary romance history, loveable, relatable characters, an awesome cover, and events that will leave you routing for your couple until the very end.

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