ARC Review: Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.

A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.

There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .

As soon as I heard that Technically, You Started It was going to be a text message-based romance, it shot up to the top of my most anticipated list for 2019. I never got any response to my request for this ARC on Edelweiss (not that I’m surprised) but I did find it at BookCon and almost immediately sat down to read it.

I wanted to love this book so much. As I was reading, I kept telling myself (and saying out loud) that I’m a sucker for books with relationships that develop via text message. But this book didn’t meet my expectations. As much as I wanted to love it, I just didn’t.

Let’s start with the good — I love that this book is told solely using texts. There is not even a single line of description in this book — it’s entirely written in text message dialogue. Surprisingly, I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything from the plot. What was happening came across pretty clearly despite only seeing texts between two characters.

That said, the uniqueness of this book and my love of text-based romances wasn’t enough to save this book.

I think that the first problem I had with this book is that nobody, not even someone like me, a former Linguistics major, texts like that. These kids text in full, complete sentences. No emojis. 100% correct punctuation. No typos. It’s weird. I guess they do address it very briefly at the beginning of the book, but it’s still weird. Maybe they started out talking formally, but as time goes on, I would have thought they’d get more comfortable with each other and that would show in the texts. At least throw in some crying laughing faces or sobbing emojis or something.

The other thing that really bothered me was the constant miscommunication. The whole premise of this book is that Haley is talking to Martin Nathaniel Munroe II, a boy in one of her classes who wants to talk about the class project. The interesting thing here is that there are two boys in her class with that name, one of which Haley is okay with and one of which she hates. It’s painfully obvious from the first few pages that Haley is not talking to the Martin that she thinks she’s talking to. It’s even in the synopsis! This is the main conflict of the book, and it’s both frustrating and boring.

I think that this book would have been better if the entire plot weren’t in the synopsis! That said, I do have to give the author credit for writing an entire book in texts and very casually featuring bisexual and demisexual leads.

#mm19: diversify your reading

Have you read Technically, You Started It? Can you recommend any similar books?
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