Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tween Tuesday: My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours

Kristina Springer

This book is friggin' cute. When Tori's (newly rich) best friend, Sienna, comes back from her fabulous summer vacation with highlights, low lights, french-tipped nails, and a too-good-to-be-true long-distance boyfriend named Antonio, Tori misses the old Sea. The girl who was seriously shy and unabashedly dorky. Tori knows the boyfriend is a lie and, unsure of how to deal with her "new" old friend, she makes up a fake boyfriend of her own. Sebastian Colander, who's everything Antonio is and even more. As awesome as this premise is, the book is even awesomer. More awesome. Whatever. Tori, Sienna, and their new, popular friends are fully-fleshed out characters. For once the popular girls aren't mean or snobby -- just well-liked. And though Sienna's transformation is sudden and extensive, she doesn't turn into a snotty brat who forgets all about her best friend just because her family has some money now. Tori's (divorced) parents are also well-developed and the adorable relationship she shares with her father is definitely one of the best I've seen in a YA or MG book. He's actively involved in her life despite her not living with him. I get so used to (and sometimes bothered by) YA books where the protagonist is like so totally annoyed and embarrassed by her parents that it was refreshing to read a book where that wasn't the case. Tori's younger than the average YA protagonist and this is a middle grade novel, but even so, not all teenagers hate their parents.

The setting here, aside from one memorable scene, is fairly forgettable and non-important. And as much as I would have loved an incredibly vivid setting, it really didn't impact the book very much. More important is the plot, which turns in unexpected and wonderful ways as Tori's "boyfriend" becomes more and more impressive and Tori herself becomes more and more confused and lost next to her dazzling and transformed best friend. There's a great subplot here with two of the popular girls who suddenly befriend Tori and this is honestly one of the best parts of the book -- watching Tori's friendships apart from Sienna. My only real complaint here is that I wished the ending had a bit more to it and that everything wasn't tied up so neatly because I was left feeling like there should have been more.

All in all though, this is a great YA/MG book. (I believe they're "officially" calling it YA, but it's much more in the MG age range to me, so that's what I'm going with.) It's awesome and adorable without being cliche, fun and quirky without falling into predictable territory. A fast, fun, all-out awesome read.

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