Review: In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: In a World Just Right by Jen BrooksIn a World Just Right by Jen Brooks
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on April 28, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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two-half-stars

High school senior Jonathan Aubrey creates worlds at will. In Kylie-Simms-is-my-girlfriend, he’s given himself everything he doesn’t have in real life-–the track team, passing grades, and his dream girl–-until one day he confuses his worlds and almost kisses the real Kylie Simms. Now his girlfriend Kylie and the real Kylie are changing, and Jonathan must solve the mystery of his own life to save his love from a gruesome fate.

Most of the time, I read a book and I have really strong opinions one way or another, but sometimes I just don’t know. Aspects of In a World Just Right were brilliant and parts of it will stick with me, but other aspects fell really flat. This is one of those books where I would one hundred percent not judge anyone for having any range of reaction to it, be it hate, love, or anything in between. I put myself pretty much dead smack in the middle, because the concept was amazing, but the execution was lacking for me in some respects.

The cover alteration that In a World Just Right underwent, though not my favorite, actually is highly appropriate, because the major failure of this book for me is characterization. Jonathan never felt three dimensional to me, so the sketched outline of a person is much more fitting to my reading experience. From the first pages, I struggled with Jonathan. The narration didn’t feel like a boy to me, but I’m not sure if that was because of gender fail or because of how passionless he seemed to me despite so much of the book being about his yearning for Kylie. I never felt what Jonathan felt. Partly, this might be tied to the fact that I don’t know why he’s so into Kylie, and I don’t know of anything else in any world that he’s really into. He runs because she does. He’s only interested in college so he could be near her. Who IS Jonathan?

On the other hand, I do very much like how Jen Brooks acknowledges the creepy. Jonathan created a world where the girl he was crushing on was in love with him. In that world, he sneaks in her window at night and sleeps over regularly. (Presumably, they have sex on these evenings, but I’m not sure (see how the reader is kept at a distance from Jonathan? What person in their first person narration wouldn’t think about getting action more than Jonathan does when he’s so into Kylie?) One of the parameters of that world is that Kylie has to love him, no matter what he does.

When Jonathan confuses the real world for his dream world one day, real Kylie begins to experience emotional crossover from girlfriend Kylie and vice versa. Girlfriend Kylie begins to feel uncomfortable when he touches her; real Kylie feels drawn to this guy she’s not been close to since third grade and has no idea why. What I like about this is that it’s acknowledged as creepy and not okay. Jonathan’s aware of what he’s doing and he feels bad about it, but not quite bad enough to stop. View Spoiler » I can’t say this endeared me to Jonathan at all, since what personality he did have to me was creepy Edward stalker/Pygmalion guy, but I did appreciate the edge that it added to In a World Just Right. This part was fucked up and really made me think.

That said, I spent about 350 pages being mildly interested. I wasn’t quite bored, but I also was not engaged strongly for more than a chapter or two at a time. My progress was slow. The ending, however, brought some unexpected plot developments that were really cool, though they also make me ask more questions: View Spoiler »

The romance in In a World Just Right did nothing for me. Kylie and Jonathan are very meh together. It obviously doesn’t help that I find his obsession with her deeply unsettling. He literally created her in one instance, and she’s very much his dream girl, which I’m not comfortable with. I like the way Brooks plays with this, but I couldn’t care at all about the fact that potentially losing Kylie is the big issue. It’s not life or death; it’s life with Kylie or life possibly without Kylie. Honeybadger don’t give a shit. View Spoiler »

In a World Just Right is one of those odd books that I can’t say that I liked all that much, but that I do sort of want to push on people anyway. It’s one I would really love to discuss in a book club format, because it’s complex and mind-bendy. If any of you have read this one and have thoughts, I want to hear them!

Favorite Quote:

Terrible things have happened to me, and that is life, but I have never been utterly alone.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif sorry that i don't give a shit about your feelings

5 responses to “Review: In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks”

  1. “Partly, this might be tied to the fact that I don’t know why he’s so into Kylie, and I don’t know of anything else in any world that he’s really into.”

    This plus the creepy obsessive love? Yeah, officially putting it on the lost interest list. The spoilers sound interesting, but I think I would be annoyed more than impressed.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: All the Rage by Courtney SummersMy Profile

  2. Yeah, ditto Debby ^. This sounds like a classic vessel book – where the characters have no existence on their own because the reader is supposed to imagine themselves and their crushes filling them completely. Blah.
    Alisa @ Papercuttts recently posted…Poet’s Corner || Salad Anniversary by Machi TawaraMy Profile

  3. Krys says:

    I was hoping to get a recommendation for a book to add to my school library shelves, but I’m going to let this potential go.
    ~ Krys
    Krys recently posted…Review: Displaced Persons by Derek McCulloch & Anthony PeruzzoMy Profile

  4. Lyn Kaye says:

    Meh.

    It sounded like it had some potential, but fails to deliver.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Forgotten Fridays: Eyes Like StarsMy Profile

  5. Alivia says:

    I actually really enjoyed this book, but then again, I’m a girl who loves to imagine things from a boy’s point of view, so I may have filled in a lot of the characterization gaps without realizing it. Now that you mention it, both Kylie and Jonathan are pretty underdeveloped characters. However, I think that may have something to do with the fact that Jonathan’s spent his whole life trying *not* to be a complete person, and his entire world was created by a six year old, so it’s pretty “blah” by default. His Kylie was just the product of a little kid with a crush, so of course she’s not very complex. Their counterparts in the real world seem to have more depth to their personalities. I’ll admit to crying pretty heavily at the end, though…that twist was just beautiful.

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