Title: Bookishly Ever After
Position: Book One in the Ever After series
Author: Isabel Bandeira
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it just wasn’t the book for me. That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate it, though – this is definitely a book that many bookish people will probably love for its relatability.
Phoebe is your typical book-obsessed teenage girl. She’s constantly reading, even during lunch with her friends, and she has plenty of bookish accessories, like shirts that say “the book was better.” She’s constantly swooning over book boyfriends, and compares all the boys she meets with these fictional guys. When she has to dress up for a masquerade dance, she goes as her favorite heroine, and her fashionista sister helps her recreate the perfect outfit. Basically, she is a Bookish Person with capital letters. So many people are going to relate to her and might even channel her a bit along with some of their other favorite protagonists, bookish and otherwise.
Phoebe was perfectly content to just read about swoony boys and ignore any real-life boys, but things change when her overly pushy best friend ( I wasn’t a fan of her and her pushy ways too much) convinces her to go after one of their mutual friends. Suddenly, she’s trying to get the attention of a real life boy rather than simply reading about hot guys, so she needs to come up with a plan – and where else would a bookish girl turn than her beloved books. She takes plenty of notes about her favorite protagonists and their best romantic moments, and these are all fictional stories within the story, which is sure to intrigue some people and annoy others because they want more than brief snippets and such. Most of Phoebe’s favorite books are paranormal romances, so even though this is a contemporary book, there’s a paranormal undercurrent, which kind of threw me off.
Now, I consider myself to be a very bookish person, but after reading this book, I’m not so sure. I spent way too much time rolling my eyes at how over-the-top Phoebe could be, but then I think about many people in the bookish community, and I wonder if I’m being too judgmental. I mean, I can be over-the-top as well – right? After reading this, I’m just not sure. I think I’m just a quieter fan, and even though Phoebe is quite shy, we’re in her head, so we’re always hearing her “swoon” and fan herself over steamy scenes. This is probably just my not-normal-sexuality cropping up and saying “who cares about the fact that you can’t touch, it doesn’t make it automatically hot,” but I just couldn’t get into many of the so-called steamy and passionate scenes that are mean to inspire Phoebe, and as a result, I couldn’t quite get behind her and her plan. I thought she came across as very naive, and that should make sense since she has no romantic experience, but it just didn’t work for me. She also has a major crush on a popular guy simply because he reminds her of one of her favorite bookish guys, and I just didn’t get that at all. I don’t know, this book just made me question how big a fan I am of books and characters, which is not something I like questioning – but, ultimately, I think I just came to the conclusion that this book seemed a bit too young for me.
There were some problems with this book, like a lack of bigger diversity (the love interest is Indian and one of her good friends is gay and has a steady girlfriend, who I would much rather read about than Phoebe) and a bit too much romantic drama, but ultimately I think this was just a case of a book that simply didn’t work for me. I love romance in my books, but I don’t always care for the overly-romantic scenes as much, which are one of Phoebe’s favorite things, so I had trouble really connecting with her and her plan. If you’re a really bookish person and love paranormal romances, with an emphasis on the romance bit, then this book will probably work better for you. I think this would probably be a nice transition book for people who love paranormal books and want to try out some contemporary books. I might check out future things from this debut author, but I’d have to wait and see what the books are about first.