BOOK REVIEW – The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie WestThe Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
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Synopsis:

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I have a question for you : how am I supposed to rate a book whose flaws are so obvious I just know many of my friends will be bothered but which let me with such a huge smile glued on my face? If several characters irked me something fierce but which made me so happy I just … didn’t care for the most part?

JUST FUCKING TELL ME. In the meantime, welcome to my messed-up brain, guys. I apologize in advance is this review is more filled with ramblings than anything else. Just know that I tried. Pinky swear.

I’m not gonna lie, I read this book in one sitting and the only thing I can say is it is highly addictive as usual with Kasie West. Indeed it seems that her books share this ability to compel me in this teenage world and even if it’s generally not the kind of humor which makes me laugh out loud, it remains that I’m swimming in a general giddiness just so refreshing that I can’t help but want to read each and every one of the books she’ll write in the future.

As for the plot, it lacks originality for sure, and I found The Distance between Us more daring in many ways. What do we have here? The clueless popular girl who’s living for peers validation and doesn’t care that much about others – but cares deeply about what they think in the meantime – and who suddenly realizes that she’s quite a bitch without meaning to. After being dumped at the Prom parking lot by Bradley, her college boyfriend (asshole), she decides to lie and to ask a random guy to be her… Fill-in boyfriend, because she’s too afraid of what her friends will think about her being single (not to mention that several of them didn’t believe that she had a boyfriend in the first place, so… You see the whole picture). Of course, of course, lies always backfire on you… And Gia will learn it the hard way. While I’m a sucker for fake relationships, and absolutely adored their interactions (I’ll come back to that), I can’t deny that Kasie West doesn’t offer us something original here, but that’s quite the opposite actually. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying the book, but you need to start it knowing this, otherwise you would be disappointed.

Moreover, this book deals with several teenage – and adult – issues as the consequences of our lies and the difficulties to trust someone, not to mention the importance of friendship and well – the thin line between wanting to genuinely please our friends and hiding our true feelings because we’re afraid of not being validated by them. While I appreciated to read about these subjects and to follow Gia’s evolution, in my opinion these issues aren’t fully handled and the book keeps its smacks of superficiality unfortunately.

First of all, let me say that I liked Gia for the most part. Yes she’s awful in the beginning (but damn, how I laughed when she met her Fill-in boyfriend!) and does sound really shallow : as I said earlier, she seems interested in what others think and this only, and I’m sure some readers will hate her. I didn’t. Never. Why? First because I love reading about flawed characters when they aren’t annoying (she’s not) and then because the development of her character was really good and well-handled in my opinion.

As for Fill-in Bradley, whose real name is a secret therefore I won’t write it here, it’s pretty simple actually : I adore him. Indeed not only he’s cute and all kinds of adorable, but he’s not perfect either and every one of his personality traits made me like him more. First he’s kind of a nerd – but not the computer kind. Don’t get me wrong, I love videogames and my BF either, but we can be a nerd or shy or well, cute and adorable in his case without being glued to a screen, and I was glad to see Kasie West acknowledging this fact, because authors often put their character in big boxes and the geek guy is always some hacker or something. It’s getting old in my opinion. Just sayin’. Moreover, Fill-in Bradley has trusts issues (and for reasons) and for me it added to his believability as he doesn’t change his way of thinking for Gia right away.

Her romance was gradual, pretty light actually, smile-inducing and believable. I ship them hard. Oh, and, definitely, no meet-cute here, but a controlling and kind of awful girl begging some clueless guy. Of course that was awesome, what do you think?

“He was still lokking at me like I was crazy. I felt crazy. “You want me to pretend to be Captain America?” He pointed toward the street. I was confused at first but then realized that’s what he was calling Bradley, whose built was on the beefy side. “They’ve never met him, so they have no idea what he looks like. beside you’re…” I gestured toward him without finishing the sentence. I tried to think of a different superhero to compare him to but nothing came to mind. I wasn’t well versed in superheroes. Were there some who were on the thinner side? Spiderman? That didn’t seem like a compliment.”

To sum up, their relationship is full of cute and funny moments that I can’t quote here but you know, you can just read the book and find.

Concerning the families, can I just say that while I hated Gia’s I completely swooned over Fill-in Bradley’s? What can I say? Bec, his sister, is that awesome metal girl whose way to deal with angriness pleased me very much (yes, it involves throwing thing and screaming. Good girl) and the growth of her friendship with Gia was one my favorite parts of the story.

“Sit. Start your rant whenever you’re ready. I will be here to egg you on.”

And what can I say about his mother except that she was supportive and deliciously eccentric? Oh, yes : she was hilarious.

“I’m Olivia. I’m sorry for stealing this boy away but I need his gorgeous face. (…)”
“She says that every time she pulls us in here and then she creates things like that.” He pointed to a painting of a half-insect, half zebra face splitting open to reveal a blooming flower. “My face did not inspire that”.
“It really did,” his mum said.”

Now, let’s talk about my biggest peeves : Gia’s friends. Talk about a bunch of jackasses, for real. I’m not even talking about Jules who was the stereotypical bitch but FOR. REAL. Who treats his friends that way? WHO? Indeed I never, ever, got what their deal was and if I can understand that it can be annoying to learn that our friend lied to us, seriously, they were overreacting throughout the whole book and the ending didn’t satisfy me in this particular issue because to me, too many problems remain unresolved. As you can guess, they were way too immature and stereotypical for my taste, and if I had to point something that I’m sure will bother many readers, it would be this. You’ve been warned.

Anyway – I just can’t dismiss that big moron smily face I wear since I finished it. I can’t, and I can’t wait to put my hands on Kasie West’s next book because let’s be frank one second here : I fall in love with every one of her male leads. they’re awesome like that.

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