Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen



Title: The Fine Art of Truth and Dare

Author: Melissa Jensen
Publisher: Speak
Release date: February 16th 2012
Pages: 380
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
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Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends— the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art— and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


I started out loving this book. I could immediately relate to the main character Ella. Her insecurites are easy to understand. As a child, she was burned badly, and she still has a huge scar on her shoulders, neck, and breast, and that makes her very self-conscious. I liked reading about her insecurities as she struggles with her self-esteem but doesn't spend hours whining about it. 


I loved Ella's friends as well. Frankie is a hilarious character - I know it's cliched, but I just love the gay-best-friend type of character. Sadie is a good character, too, and I liked reading about her family issues. Ella, Frankie and Sadie have a great friendship - the way they support each other is sweet, and I found myself always looking forward to scenes with these two characters. I loved their ToD games, too!


The restaurant and Ella's family situation is a nice addition to the story. Her family is Italian and they own a restaurant where Ella spends a lot of time, since the whole family has to help out. I always loved the scenes in the restaurants - the food sounds so delicious! Seriously, don't read this book hungry - the descriptions of the food had my mouth watering! I would have liked to know some more about each of the family members, but all in all, I liked reading about the family dynamics.


I love the idea for Ella's obsession with the dead painter, Edward Willing - unique and interesting. I liked reading about Edward's life story, and how it relates to Ella's own life. I think we got to know a little too much about Edward, though - there are excerpts from biographies and articles about him and stuff like that, and I was kind of bored during those parts. Maybe that's just because I'm not all that interested in art, though.


All of that sounds pretty postive, and I did really like this book, in the beginning. The only storyline I didn't like is the romance, and sadly, the romance turned into the main focus later on in the book. Ella's obsession with Alex annoyed me - I'm just sick of the quiet-loner-girl-falls-for-the-most-popular-guy-at-school storyline. I never really got Alex as a character - there were times when I wanted to like him, when he really seemed like a good guy; and there were times when I couldn't stand him. I just never got a grasp on what kind of person he was supposed to be. The romance storyline is predictable, and it just didn't work for me.


About halfway through this book, I got bored. The pacing is really, really slow, and I was ready for the book to be over long before it actually was over. I would have liked the book to be a little shorter, the plot to move a little faster.


I'm not sure what to make of this book. I think it had a lot of promise, since I liked the whole set-up, with Ella's character, her friends, her family, and her obsession with Edward. But the slow pacing and predictable romance made it hard for me to enjoy The Fine Art of Truth or Dare. Nevertheless, I liked reading about most storylines other than the romance, and I do think it's a cute, fun book - just nothing special.

16 comments:

  1. I felt the same way about this book. My favorite parts were the friends and especially the family scenes (loved Ella's dad and her nonna!) but the romance and the Ed Willing stuff fell flat for me too. I ended up giving 4/5 stars mainly because of the portrayal of her family and because I'm a sucker for all the 80s movies it reminded me of:) Nice review!

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  2. Excellent, excellent review! Don't you hate it when a book starts off good but the clichés sort of swallow up the best of it? Thanks so much for your honest review!

    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

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  3. Aww really? I just got this book from the library because the cover is so cute! Maybe I'll wait and put it lower in the TBR pile. Great review! Thanks for the heads up! 

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  4. Great review!! I LOVED this book! I thought it was a really great contemporary read and Ella was one of my favorite characters :)

    Happy reading and I am a new follower :)

    http://sarahcatchingbooks.blogspot.com/

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  5. If there's one thing that turns me off a book is when the love interest isn't worth being, well, the interest. These guys who are great one second and then turn around and either act like jerks or totally ignore the girl or seem like their personality isn't steady at all just turn me off totally. I want the guy to be worth the effort, worth being liked, and worth the great ending.

    The rest of the story sounds great, especially with the art element and the family restaurant:)

    Oh, one question - if the romance ends well in this book, is the guy actually worth it? Does he redeem himself?

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  6. He kinda redeems himself at the end, yeah. But the not-so-good stuff he does isn't really addressed as a problem, it's just kinda there... and that bugged me. But maybe it's just a personal preference - a lent this to a friend, who almost always likes the same books as me, and she loved Alex, so maybe I just didn't click with him personally.

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  7. Aneeqah @ My Not So Real LifeMay 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    I've heard some "meh" reviews about this one, and after reading your review, I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be buying this book. I'll probably be checking this one out at the library, at the most. I don't like cliche things at all, and I especially dislike bad romances. :/ Thank you for the super honest review though! It's very helpful. =)

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

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  8. You'd think the crappy behavior would've been addressed, so that he learns to treat her better...I don't know about this guy. If they're flaky it really aggravates me and really all I end up thinking about is when is some other guy going to enter the story, someone who's worth it. And of course the quirky guy I like never gets the girl:)

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  9. I hate books which start so great then leaves you hanging at the middle because of its cliche. I've been wanting to buy this one because the premise sounds really good! But I guess I'll have to borrow this.

    The friendship that Ella has with Frankie and Sadie seem so sweet and genuine. I love how Ella's family is included in the story especially with their restaurant. I might get hungry reading this! I think I'll enjoy Ella's obsession with Edward Willing. I'm no artist but I enjoy art so much.

    I think this book would have been better if the romance isn't like that at all. Its format is too used already. Somehow, it's annoying to read girls like that. LOL. 

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  10. Awwwww I was really looking forward to this one! The cover is so appealing and the title was so witty. I've been on a search for fluffy romance like Anna and the French Kiss but it seems like this isn't the one. I hate slow-paced novels and this isn't the first not so positive review I've read either :/ Great review though! Thanks for being honest!

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  11. I was confused how I felt about Alex too..but I really did like Frankie and Ella.there should have been more to Alex's character..it was as ok read for me too..

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  12. I really want this! I just love the cover! Too bad you didn' like it. :(

    Grat iew tough! =D

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  13. Yeah, that's how I felt too. He improves towards the end, but his sucky behavior at the beginning isn't really dealt with as a problem, and that kind of thing frustrates me. There's no new, nicer guy in this book, sadly :p

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  14. So you're basically stuck with the jerk;) (yeah I can be harsh when they're idiots:)

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  15. I agree with some of the other comments.  This sounds like a book I would check out at the library but not run out to buy.  I'll add it to my list but won't be hurrying to read it.

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  16. This was one of those books that I was really looking forward to, because it sounded genuinely cute and interesting. But from the start, I really didn't care for Ella, her friends, or her family. The gay-best-friend was sort of a cute character, but he got on my nerves. And the love interest guy, blegh. I wasn't really *into* anything about this, and it just kinda fell flat. The obsession with Edward creeped me out, but stuff like that always does, and I can see why others might think it's interesting, I guess. 

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