Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Release date: February 25th 2014
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan's friends. They are platonic and happy that way.
Eventually they realize they're best friends -- which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way. Guys won't ask Macallan out because they think she's with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can't help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

***This review includes slight spoilers. It doesn't give anything away that I didn't find completely predictable, but read at your own risk.***

This book frustrated me so much, even though I know it's not really the book but the way that it was marketed that is bugging me. I was really looking forward to a story that argues against the "guys and girls cant be just friends" bullshit; I wanted to read about friendship. But... Better Off Friends turned out to be a romance novel, and therefore plays into the "guys and girls can't be just friends" thing. It's not that I don't like romances - I love them! - but Better Off Friends just wasn't what I was hoping it would be.

I really enjoyed Macallan's and Levi's friendship: their banter is entertaining, and they had really good chemistry. I even liked them as romantic interests - I do think that it fit the story, and under different circumstances, I probably would have thought they were really cute. But because I was really, really hoping for a just-friends story, their cutesy behavior just annoyed me.

The novel felt a little tween to me, which didn't make me like the romance any more. We see the development of Macallan's and Levi's relationship from 8th grade to sophomore year, and I had been expecting them to be more in the older range of YA. Their young age made the romance even more frustrating for me - they keep going on and on about whether or not it's worth risking their friendship for a potential relationship, and having a happy ending that completely ignores the possibility of them not staying with their sophomore-year-in-high-school boyfriend or girlfriend just bugged me. But again, this is just my inner cynic that didn't want Macallan and Levi to be anything more than friends.

The secondary storylines had a lot of potential, but turned out to be underdeveloped. I really wanted to know more about Macallan's family situation: her grief for her mother and her relationship with her father, which is mentioned throughout the novel but never really explored. The other relationships Macallan and Levi have - both with friends and romantic interests - lack depth as well. I get that the relationship between Macallan and Levi is supposed to be the main focus, but I still wish these secondary storylines had been explored more.

Honestly, there's nothing really wrong with this book; it just wasn't what I was hoping for. If you go in like me, expecting a story that will defy the "guys and girls can't be just friends" stereotype, you will probably be disappointed. But if you're going in expecting a cute romance, you'll probably enjoy Better Off Friends, so I don't discourage you from giving it a try!


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