Monday, April 08, 2013

Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Title: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: November 13th 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: Bought

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It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for - gasp - the wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's the queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her ... well, pocket. Julia also believes in fate, and that Mark, her childhood crush, is her MTB - her meant-to-be.
But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts ... from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to live a little along the way. And thus begins a wild-good chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The cover of Meant to Be is adorable. With the cute couple, the radiant colors, and the cool London skyline, I'd figured I'd love this book; I was expecting fun travelling experiences and heartwarming romance. But sadly, the actual book can't keep what the cover promised, and I ended up being very disappointed by Meant to Be.

What bugged me most about this novel is the main character Julia. She is just so annoying! She's an uptight, rigid pushover who thinks she's better and smarter than everyone around her. I'm a rule-follower, too, and not exactly spontaneous, but she just takes it way too far. Everything about Julia frustrated me throughout the novel, especially because I didn't see the character growth I'd been hoping for.

I didn't like our other main character, Jason, either. If there's one thing I can agree on with Julia, it's how she sees Jason in the beginning - he's an annoying, obnoxious, immature jerk. Seeing as how I didn't like either of the main characters, I obviously did not like the romance between them, either. It especially bugged me how the only character growth was for Julia to change from her obnoxious self to become more like also-obnoxious-Jason.

The plot is predictable and unoriginal - after reading the description, you can already know everything that's going to happen. That's true until the very end, when we get some more original revelations. But those revelations, I didn't enjoy either - they just made me go... WTF? There were way too many random surprises, it felt like the author was trying too hard to make it unpredictable, and a lot of it didn't even make sense. The phone thing, for example, I found very unrealistic.

The only attempt at depth is the topic of Julia's dad's death, but I found the whole family storyline to be underdeveloped. That doesn't necessarily mean I needed more development of that aspect - I think it could have just been left out. Since the novel is just about Julia's class trip to London, we don't get to see a lot of interactions with her family, and the way it is, the dad's death didn't really add much to the story.

One more thing that bugged me is the portrayal of love and romance. Julia thinks there is one Meant to Be (MTB) for each person, who you'll stay with for the rest of your life. The idea that the first person you love - or even just have a crush on, like in Julia's and Mark's case - has to be the person you stay with for the rest of the life frustrated me, especially with the way Julia talks about how doing something with another person would ruin her chances with her MTB forever. And Julia's views don't really change over the course of the novel - she has a different MTB now, but she still assumes they'll be together forever, and such an unrealistic portrayal of love just bugs me.

The only redeeming aspect of Meant to Be is the writing. Despite all the things that annoyed me, Lauren Morrill has a light, sweet, humorous style that read really nicely, making Meant to Be a quick read, at least. So I might still give Lauren Morrill's next book a try - maybe, if there's a main character who doesn't make me want to strangle her 99% of the time, I'll be able to make more of her enjoyable writing style.


  1. Oh wow thanks for the review! I had been eyeing this one and I'm glad I didn't pick it up. I can't stand annoying MCs and so it's bad that there's a double whammy of them...and no real character growth! While I know I'd probably enjoy the writing, I'd rather not mentally strangle the characters for the whole book.

    Love the review!


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