Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review! The Fine Art of Pretending

FIne-Art-cover-315x480Author: Rachel Harris

256 Pages--Ages 12 (and up)

Published by: Spencer Hill Contemporary on September 20, 2014

Summary (from

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

My Thoughts:

I think this is the book that put me off of romances for a while.

[caption id="attachment_1414" align="alignright" width="203"]A_Walk_to_Remember_Poster This is way too sad to watch.[/caption]

My reading habits are extremely cyclic. Lots of times I love reading adventure and action books or fairy tale based books, but sometimes I even scurry into the romantic genre of books. Honestly, my favorite types of romances are the ones that can be called romantic comedy. I love romance books geared toward a younger audience so that I don’t have to put up with all the PDA. I like cute, innocent, clean romances that will make you squeal with delight at how cute the two main characters are together. I like reading about the one teenage couple who somehow found their soulmates in middle school/high school (no matter how unlikely that is). I like predictable all around happy endings. In fact, the romances that I HATE the most are the ones with a sad ending (or that are extremely philosophical). You know that movie A Walk to Remember? Everyone I’ve ever met who’s seen the movie loves it. Yeah, I loved the movie up until she died…then I hated it. Why won’t I read A Fault in our Stars when every woman I’ve ever met recommends it to me? Because the main characters have cancer, and I can’t say for certain because I’ve avoided this book like the plague, but I’m betting you any amount of money…at least one of them dies in the end (if not both). Sad romances do nothing for me except break my heart, and I hate that feeling so I avoid them (almost) always.

Yeah, I know, my idea of romance is completely juvenile, but if I’m going to spend a few hours reading about some characters romances I want it all to end peachy so that I can be happy. I get enough heartbreak in the real world, I don’t need it in the fictional world.

Now after I got through that rant, I can tell you what I liked and what I didn’t like about this book. Actually, there really wasn’t all that much that I liked or disliked about this book. It was all just...okay.

[caption id="attachment_1408" align="alignleft" width="177"]The author, Rachel Harris. The author, Rachel Harris.[/caption]

At the beginning it’s pretty obvious that Alyssa and Brandon are going to end up together. I mean, come on, they’re best friends and they start a fake relationship! There is literally no other way that this story could go. Either they get together because they realize the perfectness of it or they don’t get together and I waste 256 pages being disappointed. Needless to say sparks fly and they get together in like the last 5 pages. I was expecting to close the book and nod my head satisfied with the way it ended…but I didn’t. Yes, they got together and yes, everything ends up hunky dory but I felt it was still lacking something. Throughout the novel, I never really felt like Aly and Brandon were made for each other. To me, their relationship was just sort of bland. I think part of it was because I didn’t really like the personalities of Aly and Brandon.

This book is narrated in a he said she said style. You would think that would mean that they both got ample time to be developed as characters and be appreciated by the reader, but still I thought of them as bland. They both have nice backstories that help build their characters, but it all seemed a bit forced to me. It’s really hard for me to put my finger on it (I still can’t quite place it), but I just couldn’t like the characters. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike them, per say, they were just (I’m going to say it again) bland. Because you can’t really take lame characters and make a super charged romance, I also felt the romance between Aly and Brandon was (ugh) bland. I never was really rooting for them. The only reason I wanted them to get together was because in a romance story the two leads need to get together and not because I felt the characters were made for each other.

[caption id="attachment_1417" align="alignright" width="267"]Rachel Harris at a book signing. Rachel Harris at a book signing.[/caption]

In addition to the characters and romance being bland, the story itself was very two-dimensional. There is nothing else to this book except the romance. It’s completely romance driven, meaning there really isn’t an overarching plot and there isn’t much depth. Maybe that’s what lost the story for me. Two hundred and fifty six pages where it’s just people running around having feelings is sort of…boring? In this book there weren’t really much of those rough emotions that romance novels are so famous for, like jealousy or love triangles. So basically, this novel is about Aly changing herself to get boys to notice her and then her long time crush does notice her due to her new girly tendencies. I mean there are short bursts of Brandon and his jealousy (which lasts about 2 pages), but that wasn’t really enough for me. There really wasn’t anything driving Aly and Brandon together except their feelings. Which is dandy and all and probably how most normal romances work, but it doesn’t really make for an exciting story. The story is just bland (hehe, I’m on a role with that word).

If you’ve read everything I’ve written above then you know that the one word that I would use to describe this book is: bland. I never really felt much for the characters. When Aly dumped Justin and realized that she wanted to be with Brandon all I could think was, “meh.” When Brandon confesses his feelings to Aly all I could think was, “Hmm…guess it’s over.” As for whether I would recommend this book to someone, I would probably never recommend it to anyone without them prompting me, but if someone asks whether this specific book was worth reading I probably would say that if they wanted to kill a few hours with an average piece of work then yes. But really, after finishing it I’m okay with purging it from my mind.

NOTE: To be fair, this book probably came at a bad time. This is the end of my romantic fluffy story binge and so I might have just been tired of reading romance so I was especially not impressed with this book.

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