ARC Review: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.

There were a few reasons that I needed to read What I Like About You. First of all, online friends to lovers is my kryptonite. Second, the guy on the cover looks like my fiance and the girl kind of looks like me. Third, this book is basically about me and my fiance. I thought I was about to read the novelization of us. Or, at least, a super cute contemporary along the lines of Alex, Approximately.

I got neither of these things, really. I got a book of unnecessary drama with some cute parts.

I think first I want to talk about the blogging aspect, since that’s arguably the biggest plot point in this book. Halle runs a super popular book blog called One True Pastry, in which she reviews books, leads discussions, and bakes cupcakes that are reminiscent of book covers. It was so great to see a discussion of all the work that goes into blogging, because I think that’s something that people don’t necessarily realize until they decide they want to give blogging a try. This hobby is time-consuming, and I’m happy that Kanter brought some attention to that.

The thing that I question about the blogging aspect, though, is whether non-bloggers will care. There’s a lot of talk of ARCs, cover reveals, and emails from publicists, and while I’ll agree that it sounds cool, I would have had no idea what this was before I started my blog, and even less of an idea when I was in the target demographic of this book. I think it’ll be interesting to see how this book does with the general public once it’s released since, obviously, early reviews are going to come from people who are highly familiar with these things.

The second thing I want to talk about is the romance itself. Nash and Kels were cute. Nash and Halle, not so much. It’s confusing because Kels and Halle are the same person, and yet Halle seems hell-bent on Nash not finding that out. She’s unnecessarily rude to Nash and rude to her other friends because she’s so paranoid that he’ll find out who she really is, and I just didn’t understand. I mean, I get anxiety. I understand worrying about everything. But he’s your best friend. If you can’t trust your best friend, who can you trust? I think Halle’s brother Ollie says it best when he tells her, “You’re literally both sides of this love triangle. You win. But you’re like, determined to sabotage yourself.” I honestly think that this book would have been a thousand times better without this aspect.

The last thing I want to say is that if you’re an adult reader of YA, prepare yourself. There is a lot of commentary in this book about how YA is not for adults, and it even goes so far as to insinuate that adults just flat-out shouldn’t read YA. Now, I understand that I am not the target audience for YA anymore. I’m in my late 20s and while I enjoy reading YA, there are definitely some plots and themes that don’t work for me anymore. YA isn’t written with me in mind, and I totally understand that. Does that mean that I just shouldn’t read YA? Am I doomed to read genres I dislike because I’m an adult? I don’t think so. I think people should read what they enjoy.

So, all of that said, this book was more of a miss than a hit for me. I was expecting a cute contemporary reminiscent of my own relationship and got a weird combination of lying and misplaced disdain at adult readers of YA. I’m more than a little disappointed, but I hope that this book will do well.

Have you read What I Like About You? Have you read any good books about online friends turning into real-life couples?
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