ARC Review: “Meant To Be” by Lauren Morrill

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Goodreads | Amazon

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

4 stars

Thank you to Random House/Delacorte Press and NetGalley for this eARC! This title will be released November 13th, 2012.

Sometimes I read YA contemporary romance and I wonder if maybe I’ll a little too jaded for my own good. I mean, is there nothing left in this realm that I can stand?

Turns out, there is. And it’s this book.

I’ll admit I had my reservations going into it. I mean, the premise is nothing new. The main character, Julia, has the nickname of “Book Licker” for good reason. She’s a straight up nerd with a kooky best friend, a secret crush on a childhood friend and then she gets stuck with a guy she abhors for nine days in London. Quite frankly, I’ve seen this a million times with the variables tweaked.

But there’s a saying, and that’s that everything that is being written has always been written, and it’s how you write it that makes a difference. If you’ve followed any of my reviews on romance in any kind of book, you’ll know I’m very hard to please. That gives more weight to be saying that I fell head over heels for this book.

It wasn’t perfect, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but the point is that I found it amazingly cute. Julia’s devotion to her parents and the concept of finding the one “meant to be” was absolutely touching. I was reading and giggling all the way through. Julia and Jason are the standard rom-com couple that can’t stand each other, but the way they handle it and the things they say are just far too cute. They actually do end up getting rather nasty with each other too, which makes it more real—it’s not just surface tension. I don’t want to give away anything about the rest of the plot, but the twists thrown that complicate everything were actually interesting for the most part.

I do think that things fell apart a little bit on the characterization side. For one, there was an attempt to include way more characters then the story had real room for, and then to try to make those characters more than flat. I appreciate the attempt, but frankly it wasn’t relevant, it got in the way and it bogged down the story. I really wish more of an attempt had been made to flesh out Jason’s character as well. Throughout the story, he switches back and forth between sweet and immature way too easily. I understand that that’s what Julia was seeing and everything, but honestly I never believed that there was another level to Jason beyond what we were seeing because it was never addressed in great detail. There is also the character of Mark, who I can’t address without giving things away, but the way he was handled really annoyed me.

I think the greatest connection I made in this book was with Julia. She made the book for me. Sure, the nerd who’s a secret romantic isn’t a fresh story line by any means, but she managed to wrap her hands around my heart even so. She was funny, she was awkward, and—most importantly—she was real. Her reactions to all situations were genuine.

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