I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 4th 2017
Also by this author: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Starry Eyes, Serious Moonlight, Chasing Lucky
Format: ARC Source: Borrowed
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In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “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 arch-nemesis. 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 was WAY too excited about this book and the amazing Nick sent it to me to enjoy early. I absolutely loved Bennett’s YA contemporary debut and had been eagerly waiting for her sophomore novel for a long time. I just knew I was going to love it based on the premise, early reviews, and my love for banter/hate-to-love romance. So many of the best ingredients for a Lauren book.
Bailey has been talking to “Alex” on a film site for a while, going by the username “Mink.” He lives in the same town as her father, oddly enough, and he’s been asking her to come visit for a film festival that summer. Little does he know, Bailey has just moved in with her father and is waiting to make sure Alex isn’t some crazed serial killer before they decide to meet up. She’s quickly distracted by Porter, a hot and rude-but-funny coworker at the coolest museum ever, and new friend/coworker, Grace. Her and Alex’s conversations taper off as she gets closer to Porter. Little does SHE know, Porter is actually Alex.
Storytelling, Setting, and Feels
Oh man SO MANY THINGS. First of all, the story. I love the idea of them knowing each other without realizing who it is. It created so much fun tension for the reader and I kept wondering when they were going to figure it out. It did get a bit frustrating toward the end, but I loved watching them get to know each other with this huge “secret” both of them didn’t even realize.
The setting was unreal. I LOVED the museum (Cavern Palace) and surf town (Cornado Cove). I wish they were real places because I would be booking my next vacation there ASAP. I love any books that happen in beachy towns over summertime, so that was an A+ setting for me. The Cavern Palace was a unique museum with lots of different, weird rooms for people to explore. I want to work there.
SO many feels. The romance was fantastic. Porter and Bailey had undeniable chemistry that was full of banter and arguments. They poked fun at each other and fought about silly things until you wanted them to just KISS already. There were times I enjoyed their awkwardness (before doing the sexytime things) and other times I was cringing. It put me back in those days but also made me wonder if I was ever that awkward??? Sometimes being an adult is the worst because I don’t remember and don’t like it lol. Regardless, they are a major OTP for me. Porter is a new book boyfriend. End of story.
I already talked about Bailey/Mink and Porter/Alex, but there were some super solid side characters and relationships to talk about as well.
I love father-daughter relationships so much and this one had a superb one. Bailey moves to California to avoid her mom, which is pretty much what her dad did after their divorce. I loved reading their relationship, watching them play Settlers of Catan, and how honest they were with each other. He supported her and offered advice when needed, but allowed her to figure things out herself too. Her dad was awesome and I’m so happy she took the leap to go live with him. (Yes, I’m going to pretend this is all a real thing that happened in real life.)
Her new friendship with Grace was so cute. They grew to trust each other, get past friendship roadblocks, and supported each other through it all. It really made for a well-rounded story.
Most of my frustration happened toward the end of the book. There were so many different instances of miscommunication that I kept shaking my head in frustration. The classic jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, and not talking things through. I know that I have to pull my adult self out of the equation and think about how teens would act, but it still frustrates me. JUST TALK COME ON.
There were quite a few heavier parts of the story I didn’t expect, like the whole plotline with Davy. It was interesting and made for a few “high stakes” situations, but it partly felt like it didn’t belong in this story. There was so much fun banter and first love feels that I thought some parts brought me down instead. I don’t even want to use spoiler tags or talk about it so you can make decisions for yourself.
I was a fan of the ending and how everything wrapped up, but yes – there were the frustrating moments where I wanted to shake both of them. I was really hoping this book wouldn’t take quite a predictable route (which, to be fair, in some cases it didn’t). There were quite a few things I saw coming and wish happened differently. Overall though, really good end to the story.
If you enjoy banter, secret relationships online and in real life, swooooons, friendship, father/daughter love, amazing settings, and a whole bunch of other perfect things… you should probably read this book. I feel like I’ve given you a pretty good idea of how well-rounded the book is. There’s so much I could keep talking about too. Any fans of YA contemporary romance with a little bit of hate-to-love NEED to read this book. Neeeeed it.
Thoughts in a Gif
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