Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Title: The Night We Said Yes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: June 16th 2015
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.
But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.
And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.
Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.
In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I love books set in just night - they have so much possibility as to what could happen, and there's just a special kind of energy to them. The Night We Said Yes, though, is set over the course of two nights - and somehow, I loved one night but didn't really like the story of the other. So this novel turned out to only be an okay read for me.

On the first night - the chapters marked as 'then' - I loved the romance between Matt and Ella. You could argue that it's kind of insta-love-y, but I think it's well-done and kind of works, considering the story is just set over the course of this night. Despite having just met, they immediately click and have great chemistry. I loved seeing their relationship evolve over the course of that night; it's the kind of story where you can't help but root for the two of them to end up together.

The second night - the 'now' chapters -  don't really live up to the first one, though. The whole storyline of Matt's disappearance and how he's apologizing now just didn't really work for me. Matt's reason for disappearing sounds kind of contrived, and I don't think it really makes sense or justifies why he never contacted anyone. I'm not even sure why, but I just didn't care about Matt's and Ella's relationship as much during the second night - I couldn't get myself to care about whether or not they ended up together. I thought it was kind of strange how the story, towards the end, just kind of ignores the fact that Ella is moving away. The story is very much focused on teenage love, ignoring the practicalities surrounding it.

The Night We Said Yes is a very standard YA contemporary in many ways. That's not necessarily a bad thing - I obviously love contemps - but it uses a lot of the tropes I've gotten kind of sick of. Ella is a very typical protagonist: relatable, quiet, and kind of melodramatic about boys. During the first night, she's moping about her ex-boyfriend Nick, and during the second night, she's moping about Matt, which makes her seem a little needy and reliant on boys for self-validation. Of course the shy girl is the protagonist, rather than her more outgoing best friend, in this case Meg. I loved Meg, and her on-and-off-again relationship Jake would have been refreshing to focus on. The parents of the main characters never make an experience, and it's a book entirely about upper-middle class white people. None of this necessarily makes The Night We Said Yes a bad book, but they're all things I've gotten kind of tired of seeing.

If you still like these standard contemporary YA tropes, give The Night We Said Yes a try - it's really not a bad book; I'm just looking for something more unique and new. The romance during the first part is cute and enjoyable, even if the later developments in the relationship didn't really work for me. All in all, The Night We Said Yes was a very average read for me.


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