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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Awkwardly Ever After is a novel broken into three parts, each following a different couple on their way to...well coupledom. Instead of giving a broad summery of all three up here as per usual, I'm just going to break it down in the character analysis bit because I don't like summarizing several different stories together, even if they all follow a similar path.
The first tale is about Melanie Morris and her love for her best friend's younger brother, Dylan. She is scared this crush will not only ruin her friendship with her bestie, but also won't lead to the relationship she is hoping for. She also hates the idea of feeling like a cradle robber, which is a concept I find funny. Girls in high school are constantly dating boys in college or in a higher grade and the guys in those relationships aren't looked down upon. Hell, in any relationship really, it seems acceptable for the man to be older, but there is a stigma attached to the older woman. It's a bit fascinating to think about and more than a little stupid. ANYWAY....my point is, Melanie wants to move forward but she's too terrified by the possible consequences to act. And doing nothing may have the same result because it's obvious to anyone with eyes that Dylan feels the same way she does.
I really enjoyed both characters. Melanie is smart and sweet and brave. Dylan is mature for his age and clearly wants to move things forward with Melanie, but at her pace. He understands her fears, but at the same time, he thinks she worries about it a bit too much and should just let people get over it, because we all know they will. The chemistry and angsty romance between them was easy to get behind and cheer for.
The second story is about Isobel and Spencer. Here are two people that couldn't be more different. Isobel is the chubby nerd and Spencer is a star athlete. But the attraction that has just flared up between them can't be denied and the only real question is, can they get over themselves and make it work or is it doomed to failure. I feel like this story could have been taken to a whole new level. Here we have it, finally a chubby heroine, and I feel like Bates just skips over that topic. I was looking for a bigger, better speech from Spencer about how he likes her as she is and how her size doesn't matter and all that jazz. I was looking for reassurance and Isobel finding her confidence in herself and her beauty. We do get a bit of that, but I feel like it could have been more. Despite that, both Isobel and Spencer were enjoyable characters and their banter was quite amusing. I enjoyed watching them fight and then make up. I loved seeing them work it all out and realize that they didn't need to have all the answers right now.
The final story is about Corey & Timothy. Corey is a student at Smith High and Timothy is a rockstar. This is about their relationship and their fight to be allowed to attend prom as a couple. I could go into more detail than that, but that's basically it. They want to be together despite the odds and though their relationship is good, they still have a lot to work on. The biggie is communication. Corey has to learn to speak his mind and let Tim know what's going on, or things are never going to work out long term.
I really enjoy their relationship. I like how it isn't perfect and they have a real struggle, but it's a normal struggle, like communication issues. In a lot of YA stories about gay couples, their problems always seem to center around coming out and getting the world to accept them and I loved that this didn't focus on that. That part of the story is over. They are both out, the world knows they are together. Get the hell over it. While there is a bit of a struggle getting particular people to get on board with them attending prom, this is much more about them and their issues. It's obvious they both care, but Tim needs to learn to allow Corey to have input and Corey needs to step up and demand a say.
All three stories in this where entertaining and fun, with just enough seriousness to have them feeling too light. My only issue with them is I feel like they all need to be longer. I've made it pretty well known that I don't like short stories or anthologies overly much because I feel like you can't tell the story clearly enough in that short space. These are a bit longer, but I still wanted more. They all felt a bit rushed, like there were trying to make the story fit into this allotted space instead of letting the story lead. Now, that feeling may be because I haven't read any of the other novels in this series. I know they other novels aren't specifically about these characters, but I'm sure we get some development for each of them there, so maybe that is my issue, but either way, it bugged me. That has been a problem in many a book lately, it has felt rushed. Stories need time to grow and evolve and I'm willing to read however many more pages they require to do so.
All I'm really saying is that these stories are great little tales, that could use a bit more time, but work well enough in the space you are given. They all have that must keep reading quality, once you get just a little ways in. They all allow you to disappear into their world for short stent, and really, that's all I look for in a book. I want to be entertained and enraptured and lost to the real world because of this fascinating fictional one. On that count, this succeeds with flying colors. I think most people will enjoy it, love it probably, because most people aren't quite as picky as I am about the length of the story. :)
****Thank you to KTeen for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review****