Kylie Florres is freaking out. She just woke up in a bedroom in Mexico half naked next to an equally unclothed Max Langston with a fuzzy recollection of last night. Graduation is a scant few hours away and she and Max both have wedding rings on. What the hell happened last night?!? Okay, so that tinsy summery is a tad cliché, but that’s exactly how the novel starts off before jumping to 2 days prior when all the shit started. The whole crazy mess gets started because Kylie is a perfectionist, so when a teacher gives an assignment during the last week of class for each student to interview a predetermined classmate and write a paper on the books that have influenced them most, she has to do it. She may be the ONLY one doing it, but she must keep her valedictorian spot. The assignment really becomes her downfall, leading to a chain of events where her computer gets stolen and she chases the thief, and somehow manages to end up in the back of a Uhaul full of stolen electronics on its way across the Mexican border….with Max in tow. From there, this crazy ride just gets worse…or is it better? And Kylie ends up learning more about herself (and Max) than she ever imagined.
Can I just say wow? My sister keeps using the phrase “mind-blown” in her reviews and I must say I feel the need to borrow it now because that is exactly how I feel. Here, I’ll express it in a language we all understand:
…okay, I’ve got to stop. But you get the point, right? I loved this, I mean seriously, LOVED it. It was exactly what I have been looking for. It gives me hope, just like My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling did, that sometimes there are amazing books that made wading through all the terrible ones worth it. Okay, okay, enough fangirling. Let’s get on with the review, shall we? I was lucky enough to be approved to for this via netgalley, but unfortunately at the time I was having issues with my internet and wasn’t able to log on to download the eARC until after it was archived. Boy am I kicking myself now. I saw that my library had a copy and was excited to give it a shot.
Characters seem to be what I focus on these days, so let’s start with Kylie Flores. Despite the fact that I’m not overly fond of her name, I really liked her. She’s uber smart, whose goal in high school isn’t simply to climb the ladder of popularity, but to actually learn and get into a good college. She spends her downtime taking care of her little brother, Jake, who has Asperger Syndrome because her mom works all the time and her dad is well, just absent either physical or mentally all the time. She is so incredibly patient with him that I was amazed. Most teenagers would just ignore him, but not Kylie. She takes it all in stride though, soldiering on and even making valedictorian.
Will Bixby, Kylie’s one and only friend, is an out of the closet gay guy who prides himself on shocking his small community. He’s spent his entire high school career cross-dressing just to make the people around him uncomfortable. He has also spent his entire high school career saving Kylie from herself. He spends most of his weekends with her, having never-ending movie marathons while trying to push her out of her comfort zone. So when she calls him to say that she’s ended up stranded in Mexico with no way home, stuck with Max Langston (aka the most popular, hottest boy in school), he’s thrilled.
Max Langston is exactly what you’d imagine the most popular guy to be, hot, arrogant, rich, and a total dick….or is he? There is more to him than meets the eye, though he does play the jackass role extremely well. So when Kylie storms up to him and calls him on his shit, he’s pissed and…a little impressed. Most people just allow him to get away with murder and this chick clearly isn’t down for that….maybe there is more to that outcast than he initially thought.
The other two “main” characters are Lily Wentworth (Max’s girlfriend) and Jake Flores (Kylie’s brother). I didn’t care for Lily at all. Bossy, prissy, and a complete bitch, her tale of woe didn’t garner a shred of sympathy from me, but it was good to see the other side of the story. Jake was an interesting character. The Aspergers makes his thought process a little different, but I liked seeing his side of things too.
The whole crazy romp is told via alternating first perspective. You mostly get Kylie and Max, but there are several chapters from Will, Lily, and Jake. I honestly don’t think I could pick a favorite character because they were all so great, but I think if I had to, it will be Max because he’s so perfectly flawed that it’s crazy. I think I knew when I started reading this that I would love it because each chapter starts with a movie quote. I’m such a film junkie (it’s almost as bad as my book addiction) and the fact that Will & Kylie are film nerds too just made my day. They quote movies to each other (something my husband and I have a habit of doing) and their very friendship was formed over a quote from The Breakfast Club. Some of my favorite movies are used, such as Fight Club, Fired Up, Easy A…then they quote 10 Things I Hate About You towards the end and I fell in love all over again.
It’s amazing for many reasons, definitely for more than just the movie quotes. The characters all felt vivid and real. I can definitely add both these ladies to the list of female authors who can wrote a believable male perspective. The plot is complex and takes me both exactly where I thought I would go and places I didn’t expect. It’s also highly addictive. Once you get about 50 pages in, you just can’t put it down. I stayed up later than I should last night to finish it. I kept glancing at the clock. I remember look around 10:30 and thinking “Just a few more chapters and then I’ll stop for tonight”…yeah, that so didn’t happen.
Bottom line? If you are looking for a fun romp in Mexico, this is for you. If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh, this is for you. If you are looking for a book that is deeper than you expected, this is for you. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think this novel has something for everyone and I think there will be many people out there like me who will treasure it.
****Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****