I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass
Published by HarperTeen on December 31st, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Love and Other Theories is a fast-paced twist on the coming-of-age novel . . . and the romantic comedy.
Aubrey and her best friends made a pact to play by the guys' rules when it comes to dating. They're hoping the rules will keep them from experiencing high school heartbreak--they don't realize that these rules could just as easily keep them from opening their hearts and minds. And when new boy Nathan Diggs moves to town, Aubrey starts to think that some rules are meant to be broken.
With equal parts bite and romance, topped off with an irresistibly engaging voice, Alexis Bass's debut novel is one you won't want to miss.
*sigh* I knew that I was taking a risk in picking up Love and Other Theories. See, it sounded like it could be AWFUL, but it could also be the exact kind of banterfluff I love. Because, I mean, what’s more banterfluffy than a main character who stubbornly refuses to get into a real relationship? I mean, sex positivity and independence YES, but then to make it bantery and cute, an amazing guy could come in and convince her to take the plunge and it could be ALL OF THE ADORBS. Well. It was not. It was absolutely not.
The thing that immediately got to me in this book is that I freaking hate the characters. I mean, I suppose I’m meant to – because there is a clear and necessary character growth arc. But they’re awfulllllll. The main character, Aubrey, is part of this clique of girls who have decided that relationships are the worst. High school boys are unevolved and will just cheat on you and break your heart – so don’t get into these relationships and just have fun, going around kissing guys when you feel like it and whatever with no defined relationship. And that, in theory, is fine. The problem is that these girls go around and JUDGE everyone else who DOES choose to be in a committed relationship. They literally call those girls “unevolved” and stupid – because they’re just going to get their hearts broken, and why don’t they learn??? Fuck you girls. Fuck you. Choose your lifestyle – fine – but don’t start being massive bitches to everyone who decides to go another way. The problem is that they are such a clique – they’re constantly involved in groupthink. Aubrey narrates as, “We do this. We do that. We think this,” and that just makes me CRINGE.
They are, in fact, bullies. They used to be friends with Chiffon, but one of the girls had a crush on some dude for a long time, and he ended up liking Chiffon better. Chiffon didn’t even freaking DO anything with him, but him asking to hang out with her over the summer was grounds for severing their friendship for always and then going around calling her the worst things, claiming to everyone that she has STDs, pranking her to humiliate her… the list goes on. I was disgusted. The fallout with Chiffon is actually what started their theories about love, to never take it seriously or get emotionally involved. To always choose their friends above the guys. But the extent to which they take these theories is clearly flawed. And I mean, you freaking hypocrites! Why didn’t the same go for Chiffon??? She didn’t even agree to anything with that guy and you already dumped her and started bullying her!
I started getting a bit queasy thinking about these theories actually, although – yes – sex positivity and independence are good things. But the way that these girls behave, constantly hooking up with everyone, is also creating an image that guys should just take advantage of that. They delude themselves that they don’t get hurt because they aren’t emotionally involved, but they so obviously are. The prime example there is Aubrey and Nathan. Nathan comes to town as the golden boy and they’re instantly smitten with each other. They hook up, but after a while Nathan gets disillusioned that Aubrey won’t commit to him, and though he was clearly in love with her, View Spoiler »he has sex with her best friend « Hide Spoiler. The. Fucking. Rage. I didn’t even ship him and Aubrey, because frankly, it was instalove pretending it wasn’t. Aubrey so clearly did have feelings for him but denies it – but not in a cute way, in an obvious and cliché way. But here was a good guy who was clearly all about committed relationships, and because of these girls promoting their hook up culture and claiming that anyone who does get into a relationship is LAME and UNEVOLVED, he changes – for the worse in my opinion. He becomes the douchey high school guy that they claim every guy is, which was what necessitated the theories in the first place. This is how these guys are made. And then Aubrey is heartbroken but HAS to put on a brave face because of course she wasn’t emotionally involved – if she was, she’d be losing points for “Team Girl”. So yeah, she’s fine with it. Nathan was fair game for anyone.
Obviously this doesn’t hold up. And fair enough, the character growth is there as Aubrey begins to see that the theories are crap and more damaging than anything, because they force her to lie about and deny her feelings. But by this point, I didn’t care anymore. I disliked the characters. There was no romance to cheer for anymore. (I mean, there was one possibly good ship but Aubrey shuts that down for some reason.) Friendships fell apart and I thought GOOD RIDDANCE. But the growth was so obvious. I knew what revelations Aubrey would have. I knew it. It took a long time to get there, and then it was just thoroughly unsurprising and obvious. It never got me to care. She grew as a person? Good for her. Moving on.