Tuesday, 3 February 2015

To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (7th Aug 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1407149075
ISBN-13: 978-1407149073
Source: Purchased/Review/Gift


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.

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It feels like, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has been around forever. In the way that it’s so acclaimed and loved by people, how it’s a constant presence in “best contemporary reads” or “best book of the year” lists, despite being a (2014) release. 

It was only the other day I picked it up, wanting to have a read of it before the year came to an end and I could deem whether it should be included in my “best books of 2014” lists.

I feel like I’ve been impartial and separated enough from the hype, avoiding spoilers and reviews, in order to give an un-biased review of the book, and I wish I could say otherwise, but I didn’t love the book as much as everyone else did. It was nothing new for me, nothing to separate it from other contemporary reads I’ve gone through. It was a nice read, sure, and there were some pleasant aspects to it - but it didn’t leave me feeling anything by the end; no tingly feeling, no tugging of the heart, no real happiness that I usually get when a contemporary books worms its way under my skin.

I loved the idea of how Lara Jean had written a series of love letters to all the boys in her life and saved them, as a way to move on from her memories, and I felt while I started the book, this was going to be a leading and prominent aspect to the story with a bigger role. However I felt like the letters themselves didn’t provoke much reaction when they were suddenly delivered to the people in question.

For the first half of the book, “who sent those letters out” was the main thing that kept me going (though it was obvious who did it, for some reason I thought nah, that's really too obvious and maybe there's a plot twist - which there wasn't) And by the second half, I was genuinely curious to see how it wraps up for Lara Jean and Josh and Peter, yes, the inevitable triangle - one which I just couldn’t get on board with. Aside from the fact that Laura Jean has feelings for her sister’s boyfriend, let’s just you know shove that in a box under the bed, even without that, there was no real connection between Laura Jean and Josh to begin with. 

Throw in Peter, who seems sweet enough with the little notes and the way he does seem to care for Laura Jean - but. But. The line between reality and acting blurs and you can’t even tell whether Peter’s actions were a reflection of his true feelings or the fact that he’s a great actor. And the motive? He wanted to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Throughout the story, I couldn’t tell whether Peter was really over her or not - and that my friends, is why I had a hard time connecting with the romance in the book. There were sweet moments and cute moments, but it wasn’t the mind blowing, boil your blood kinda thing people have been raving about. 

What I did enjoy was the refreshing cultural aspect, bringing some Korean particles into the story, and the relationship Laura Jean has with her Dad was cute, I will admit. The family dynamic seemed very realistic and that was the best part about the book. 

The ending didn’t really do anything to help this book in my eyes, with what felt like Laura Jean’s feelings being left up in the air. Was she really over Josh, or is she still harbouring feelings for him, despite the fact she’s meant to be with Peter? Sigh sigh sigh. All in all, this book felt a little messy to me in terms of character development (of which there was none for me) and the romance didn’t bring me the sigh of contentment I was expecting, given all the rave reviews. At best a not so horrible read, but definitely not what I was hoping for when I picked it up. 

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