Saturday, January 5, 2013

Novel Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Penguin (Speak)
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

Available on Amazon.


I’m kind of unsure about this book, including what to say about it. I liked it. I think I expected something a bit different, something more cliché and light hearted (not that this wasn’t either of those things, but more in the cheesy direction than this one took). It was a little bit mediocre, I don’t feel as strongly about it as I would have liked, but I still rather enjoyed it, and there were some things that really stand out to me.
I don’t mind Ella, the main character, too much. She’s definitely not one of my favorites, and she did a couple of not-so-smart things (particularly to her friends), and I think she should be a bit more outspoken or not so hesitant or self-conscious, but I don’t dislike her. She has her problems, some to do with getting close to Alex and some to do with her self-confidence, the origin of which I will keep a secret, and they were actually kind of worked through. And the book ended with her set on continuing to work through them, which was good.
I don’t have very strong feelings for Alex, the love interest, at all. He was sweet, I guess; he just doesn’t stand out to me, but I know that Ella likes him and whatever and I'm okay with that.
But Edward Willing. My god, is he great. Firstly, I just have to give props to Jensen for creating a historical character with an actual historical history that makes you think he's actually real, who Ella obsesses over and talks to in her head, because that is hard to do. And she did a fantastic job. I mean, Ella loves him and studies him and has created a fictional him in her head, and she’s sometimes maybe wrong and she learns that, and it was just so great. Edward was, seriously, my favorite part of this book. I mean, I liked the romantic scenes between Ella and Alex, and I liked her interactions between her and her friends, and her family (both of which I will talk about in a moment), but Edward is what really stands out to me.
Now, her family (I know, that didn’t take long). Her family is, maybe a little overbearing?, but really sweet and fun. They own an Italian restaurant, where her family all work, and those scenes were usually pretty fun to read. As was the scenes with her friends. I liked her friends, and was not happy with what Ella did to them, it was dumb. But it got better, I suppose.
So, I did enjoy this book, but it was just a bit above mediocre. I do still want to read Jensen’s other book, so hopefully I’ll like that one more.

P.S.: I just want to say that, while the cover may be mildly embarrassing, I do find it quite adorable. Also, the comparison in the synopsis, about it being like Anna and the French Kiss, is rather big shoes to fill, comparing to how much I liked that book, and that this book did not make it. I don't know about Pretty in Pink, though, as I've never seen it.

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