by Lauren Morrill
To be published by Delacorte BYR
on November 13, 2012
Source: Received e-ARC via NetGalley
My summary: Julia has mixed feeling about her class trip to London. On the plus side, she'll get to explore the city where her parents fell in love. On the negative side, she'll be away from Mark, the guy she thinks she's meant to be with. Plus, she's partnered up by the trip chaperone with Jason, the most annoying guy on earth. Before she knows it, she's getting dragged along to raucous parties, trading flirty texts with a mysterious Brit, and beginning to wonder if she and Mark are "meant to be" after all...
My take: YA contemporary is my favorite genre. I like dark, gritty contemporaries and light, fluffy contemporaries and everything in between. So I was sure that Meant to Be would be the perfect read for me, a combination of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Statistical Probability of Love and First Sight by Jennifer Smith.
While Meant to Be definitely had its good points, other aspects of the book just didn't work for me.
I loved the book's setting. London is an amazing city and I loved watching Julia experience it for the first time. The premise -- straight-laced girl who thinks she has her whole life figured out and gets thrown for a loop when she realizes that her plans aren't working out -- is one of my favorites. The cover is a work of genius. And the book had a very intriguing subplot involving mysterious text messages. I wasn't sure who was sending them, and it was driving me crazy trying to figure it out.
What kept me from falling head over heels for Meant to Be was Jason. I do not expect every YA love interest to be gorgeous and rich and sparkly. In fact, I love quirky, awkward love interests, like Cricket Bell in Lola and the Boy Next Door. But I had a hard time seeing Jason as anything but immature and annoying. To me, his interactions with Julia seemed more middle school class clown than dreamy book boy.
I love odd couples with a relationship that crackles with sexy antagonism, like Bianca and Wesley in The DUFF by Kody Keplinger or Sydney and Adrian in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. But I'd argue that this kind of relationship requires that the characters be equally matched. Because Julia is alone and friendless on the trip and suffers from low self-esteem -- she's constantly bemoaning the fact that she's short and her hair is frizzy -- Jason's constant badgering of her came off to me as mean. He's constantly mocking Julia and calling her names. He's also constantly chewing giant wads of grape bubble gum. At one point, he takes the chewed-up gum and sticks it onto a wooden crate at a record store. Just .... no.
That said, other reviewers whose opinions I respect absolutely adored Meant to Be. So even though this book was just not my cup of contemporary tea, I urge you to check it out and make up your own mind. While Meant to Be and I were not entirely fated for one another, I enjoyed Lauren Morrill's way with words and will happily check out whatever she writes next.