Saturday 10 June 2017

A Review: Jenn Bennett's Alex, Approximately

Hi, and thanks for stopping by.

At the start of 2017, I read a book called Night Owls by an author called Jenn Bennett. It quickly became one of my favourite YA books I have ever read. So when I started to hear the whispers on goodreads about Alex, Approximately, I absolutely could not wait to read something else by this incredible YA talent. I have to admit, I was afraid it might be a letdown after such an incredible experience reading Night Owls, but oh my goodness, I shouldn't have worried AT ALL.

"My name is Bailey Rydell, and I'm a habitual evader."

On a superficial level (because it wouldn't alter my opinion at all if it weren't pretty) the cover of Alex, Approximately is just as beautiful as Night Owls! I love the textured, metallic titles and the gorgeous colours. Also, I really loved the use of movie quotes at the start of every chapter. Particularly those from Clueless and You've Got Mail!

"Some people thrive in the spotlight; others prefer to work behind the scenes. You can't make a movie with nothing but actors."

Once again, I loved our female protagonist/narrator (I did in Night Owls, too!) Bailey was funny, self-deprecating, relatable and honest. Her anxiety was captured really well; yet again I was impressed by Jenn Bennett's realistic and sensitive, though not shy, handling of mental health as a topic. What I loved about Bailey especially was her intelligence and how unique she was. She wasn't described as your perfect beachy heroine-type (and I love that Porter recognised that, too).

"Take a chance, Mink. What's the worst that can happen?"

Porter was a perfect love interest. I think that Jack (from Night Owls) is possibly my favourite male love interest ever (it's a closely contested competition, though) and so it's no surprise really that Porter was great. He was funny, smart and just played with the line between loveable/cheeky and asshole, which was handled perfectly. Obviously the revelation that Porter is Alex and Alex is Porter is fairly easy to see coming (in my opinion) but the different moments of revelation for Porter and Bailey were still really tense to read; Porter's reaction was so sad and frustrating, so confusing for Bailey, enough to want to reach through the pages and sort it out for them both, I also thought it was really and Bailey's reaction was just perfectly perfect. I also really, really enjoyed the glimpses of Porter within Alex's conversations with Bailey; it was so cute to see his guilty reactions to being kind of a dick to Bailey at The Cave, and for her to advise him on how to sort things out, all the while neither of them understanding what was happening.

"Sometimes we get confused and turned around by the distractions. But we didn't."

I also really appreciate that Jenn Bennett doesn't just write romance well, she also writes friendship and, particularly, family issues really well. In this case, Bailey's growing familiarity with her dad, and his new girlfriend, was really heartwarming to read (not following the asshole dad trope) and learning all about Porter's family issues, including his father's accident, his own fear of the sea and the Davy dilemma, were some of my favourite sections of the novel. I liked that Porter in particular was not a one-dimensional romance interest; he had background, light & dark and issues.

"I'm tired, man. Someone else is going to have to save you now."

The one complaint I had upon finishing was simply that I wished the Bailey and Alex forum conversations had carried on more regularly throughout the story. I didn't feel like either of them were the type to abandon each other (although obviously they're unknowingly hanging out in real life) and I felt it would be more realistic to have them chatting still. But ultimately their break in friendship feeds into the later plot, so I get why Jenn Bennett did it. And, realistically, it didn't make much difference to my overall appreciation and enjoyment of Alex, Approximately.

I couldn't recommend this book more. It is just pure YA gold. Go read it!!!

"I'm so ready. I am Mink. Hear me roar."

Till next time


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