Aubrey Housing and her friends live by a simple code: If you want more, you give less. Don’t be clingy, don’t be needy, and whatever you do, don’t let your heart into the game (GOTCHA). So when Nathan Diggs, the new guy, catches Aubrey’s attention, she knows just how to win him over. There’s only one problem: she thinks her heart is becoming involved whether her head wants it to or not. As she steals more and more time with Nathan, she begins to wonder about the dating rules and if they really are what’s best. Can she find a way to accept this new thing with Nathan or will she let the rules ruin it?
At first, I was in love with this novel. I loved the progressive feel, the I am woman, hear me roar thing it had. These girls are smart and confident and completely right in a lot of ways. Acting clingy in high school irritates a lot of guys and the best thing to do is avoid that. The problem starts to develop, though, when you aren’t allowed to move past the “player” phase. Feelings are a real thing and they cannot always be controlled. Falling in love in high school isn’t exactly the best idea. We all know the statistics of how well that will end (or the statistics you can overcome, as I married my high school sweetheart and don’t regret decision I made that lead to that), but that doesn’t mean you can wish it away if it happens. My opinion of Aubrey fell a little every time she refused to admit what this was, every time she refused to confront her friends about the bullshit, and every time she acted like it didn’t bother her to see Nathan flirting with someone else. I’m sorry lady, but no one has “evolved” past jealousy at seeing your not-boyfriend making out with your supposed best friend. That’s not how real life works, no matter how much you wish it was.
The same can be said of almost all the characters in this novel. Her besties, Nathan, anyone else they associated with. They way they made fun of the girls who actually desired a normal relationship instead of endless hookups pissed me off a lot. They basically did the opposite of slut-shaming. Relationship-shaming. If it’s perfectly fine for a girl to sleep with whoever she pleases (and it is!) and not become attached, then it’s perfectly logical to assume that a girl may sleep with someone she is attached to and that’s fine as well. And Nathan started off better than all their bullshit, genuinely wanting a relationship with Aubrey. He is sweety and a little dorky and I wanted to love him. That love, however, went kaput the minute he started hanging out with Aubrey’s bestie, the minute he start sleeping with Aubrey’s bestie. Dude, that’s wrong. Period. I know we watch TV shows where the same six people date and split and re-couple constantly, but that’s TV LAND. That’s not real life and that shit hurts. Period.
For me, this started out as a new and different contemporary YA, showing girls can be powerful and confident and that’s all well and good, but then it digressed into a hot mess of love triangles and confusing hookups. It gets 2 stars instead of 1 solely because it was extremely readable. For the first 75% of the book, I couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading to find out what shenanigans the girls and boys got into next. For the last quarter, all that intrigue disappeared and the ending was completely disappointing. I feel like things were resolved, but not in a manner I could really get behind. So, if you are looking for a happy ending, look elsewhere. You will not find it here.
****Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****