REVIEW: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Format: ARC, 304 pages
Publication: June 16th 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Gifted by my fellow blogger/friend (thank you D!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: High School Romance, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over her ex-boyfriend and graduate high school—simple as that. But Matt—the cute, shy bass player—was never part of that plan. And neither was spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of. But then Matt leaves town, breaking Ella’s heart. And when he shows up a year later, wanting to relive the night that brought them together, Ella isn’t sure if re-creating the past can help them create a different future. Or maybe it can. . . .

Review

In his book Looking for Alaska, John Green had a handful of quotations that rang true with my own experiences in life. But one that easily comes to mind is “I wanted to like booze more than I actually do.” Sadly, this speaks too of my relation with The Night We Said Yes.

To be fair, I really like the premise of Gibaldi’s debut. The story takes place in two nights, exactly one year apart. It’s told from Ella’s perspective and it starts with her trying to move on from her ex-boyfriend Matt who bailed out with no more than a note and a lousy excuse. Except now he has returned. And while Ella is hesitant—for obvious reasons—she wants answers all the same. The novel then jumps back and forth in the timeline as Ella in the past falls for Matt while the Ella in the present figures out if she and her friends are ready to take Matt back into their group. This should have been a favorite. Friendship story. The titular night of saying yes to every(reasonable)thing. A non-linear narrative. Instead, it’s trite, which, again, would’ve been fine except the main character—also the narrator—is problematic.

“It was my favorite part of the night—when the evening’s events were still unknown and unpredictable. It was the sense of possibility that I loved, the idea that anything could happen next.”

I’d go right off the bat and tell you Ella is not for me. She wallows in sadness and is often overcome by the secondary characters. And I know that our high school selves are supposed to be subjects to heightened emotions but I can’t get past the fact that Ella (in the Now) was thinking about Matt and their failed relationship 95% of the time. Then we have Meg, the best friend, who clearly reads as a foil to the MC and Jake, her on-again-off-again boyfriend, who was almost fun—if only he had more layers. I must say, however, that Matt was enjoyable, especially pre-break up. But although the “Then” storyline entertained me, I was looking for something more, something to connect with, something to make me care about these characters. Alas, I was met by a two-dimensional plane.

“It’s as if my mind can’t process what would happen if he were to come back, so instead of reacting, it gives up, checks out, and leaves town.”

In addition, there are several scenes that are cloying if not downright groan-worthy and the stuff they said yes to were underwhelming. I was hoping (praying) the reveal might redeem the novel but when it was time for it—the reason why Matt had to leave—it was a bit of a letdown.

The Night We Said Yes is a light, summery read, but unlike many summers of my younger years, it’s bound to be in the dregs of forgettable made-up drinks.

2.0 out of 5

Author

Lauren Gibaldi

Lauren Gibaldi is a YA librarian at Orange County Public Library, where she hosts youth programs. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and daughter. The Night We Said Yes is her debut novel.

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Do you plan to read this one? Or if you already did, what’s your take on it? Do you stick to a story without much plot going on but that has a character(s) you can connect with? And if you happen to DNF books, which I don’t, at least I haven’t had the strong urge to, how many pages do you go in before deciding to say yes to walking away (okay, that’s hyperbolized, but see what I did there?)? Sound off in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

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REVIEW: Galgorithm by Aaron Karo

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Title: Galgorithm
Author: Aaron Karo
Format: E-ARC
Publication: May 5th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (thank you Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: High School Romance, Young Adult

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Synopsis

What if the secrets of dating and love were revealed in one simple formula? That’s the tantalizing proposition high school senior Shane Chambliss offers the hopeless and hapless guys who come to him for relationship advice.

After the girl of his dreams breaks his heart, Shane devises a mysterious formula called the Galgorithm and establishes himself as the resident dating guru at Kingsview High School. But his attempts to master the art of romance go outrageously awry.

As Shane tries to navigate the ensuing drama, he must follow his heart, abandon all the rules, and ignore his own advice in a quest for true love. What he discovers, no formula could ever predict…

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

Galgorithm is a fun, light, if often trite, read with short chapters that make for an easy entertainment. Here’s the thing with the author, Aaron Karo is a comedian and this is evident throughout the book. Shane is funny, though he can get cheesy at times. But, hey, I’ll take peanut butter with my pancakes. (Yes, on a scale of one to bacon—one being the lowest and bacon being, well, bacon—peanut butter receives one-point-five in the Food Analogy Scale of Awesomeness.) And there are instances where Shane is existential but also faintly reminiscent of Ryan Dean West’s hormonally-charged voice, albeit toned down and with a bit of maturity.

“He’s the most finicky guy I’ve ever met. He nitpicked everyone and everything. Girls were “too nice.” The air was “too breathable.” He once said that a sandwich was “too bready,” which I think pretty much defies the laws of sandwichness.”

Meanwhile, Jak, Shane’s best friend since childhood, is so witty! She has a thing for ruining perfect moments and Karo nails this all the time. Almost everytime she’s in a dialogue, it’s sarcastic and all that teen stuff. My main issue with this novel, however, is the lack of a unique, stand-out voice. I mean, all the side characters kind of blur in the background and, though Shane and Jak were enjoyable to read about, they were predictable.

“”What is almond milk anyway?”
“It’s milk from ground-up almonds. It’s healthier because there’s no dairy.”
“That feels like one of those made-up facts.””

The novel is very contemporary so it doesn’t take a move of muscle to get into the story. Plus it isn’t before long until a Harry Potter reference comes up. And, darn, what a reference! I seriously laughed out loud at this one (which I’ll do you a favor and not spoil for you). In addition, there are other pop culture references but I especially like that Twitter and emojis are mentioned. This novel will appeal to fans of Will Gluck’s Easy A.

“”Easier said than done.”
“Life is easier said than done, Shane.””

Galgorithm is at its core a high school rom com, and much as it lets you down at some points for using a hackneyed trope, it still is something to pick up when you want to relax and just stay in for the night or when you want a quick read that’ll make you grin.

3.0 out of 5

Author

Aaron Karo

Aaron Karo is an author, comedian, and screenwriter. His books include Galgorithm, Lexapros and Cons, I’m Having More Fun Than You, Ruminations on Twentysomething Life, and Ruminations on College Life. He was born and raised in New York, currently lives in Los Angeles, and always pays on the first date.

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Have you read this one? Do you share my opinion? If not, it’s okay. We can still discuss. Or if you haven’t read it yet (considering it’s not out ’til next week), have I been helpful in determining whether you’d pick it up or not? And, ultimately, what is your favorite high school romance? Come on, let’s talk!

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