Size Doesn’t Matter (86): The Boy Next Door; Places No One Knows

Size Doesn’t Matter (86): The Boy Next Door; Places No One KnowsThe Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
Series: Boy #1
Published by Avon on October 11, 2002
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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*Humor
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*Cooking tips
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Obviously before reading The Boy Is Back, it’s completely crucial that I revisit this series. I mean, I actually read these when I was in high school, so I remembered nothing, aside from the fact that there were romances told in email format and funny.

TBH that’s mostly all you need to know about The Boy Next Door. Old school Meg Cabot is just the best, though I’m excited about her new stuff too, where she’s leaving the paranormal behind and getting back to her roots (or at least her most popular series).

The email format is well done, aside from the fact that I’ve never gotten an email from someone that started in the Subject line and just carried on in the main text of the email and literally everyone in this book does that. The emails are funny and so on point, though it’s a bit less shippy for the distancing nature of emails. I love the sex positivity and body positivity woven into the book, though there are a few things that aren’t considered appropriate anymore because advocacy and representation have come a long way.

I read this in a day, and I imagine I’ll be devouring the next three just as quickly. Cabot is the queen.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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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.

Size Doesn’t Matter (86): The Boy Next Door; Places No One KnowsPlaces No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
Narrator: Karissa Vacker, Jesse Bernstein
Length: 10 hrs, 10 mins
Published by Listening Library on May 17, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Magical Realism
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

Places No One Knows surprised me, because, once again, I totally didn’t research. I expected another horror tale, but Places No One Knows is very lightly magical realism but mostly a contemporary romance.

Though they’re not a SHIP, I find the romance between Waverly Camdenmar and Marshall Holt fascinating. They defy tropes and expectations. Waverly’s the popular girl, the good student and athlete. Marshall Holt’s the bad boy, who drinks and takes drugs to get fucked up on the regular because of his messed up home life. On the surface, you totally think you know this exact story.

However, Marshall, when Waverly gets to know him, turns out to be such a romantic. He’s in touch with his emotions, so much so that he totally can’t handle them, thus the substance abuse. Waverly on the other hand helped her friend Autumn take over the high school because she could, using the principles of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. The way that Waverly acts is a carefully cultivated act she puts on to try to seem like a normal girl, not a macabre genius who doesn’t understand emotions. Lenore Appelhans, who’s done a lot of the research into the subject, mentioned in her brief GR review that Waverly is most definitely a sociopath. What I think is awesome about that, as Lenore did, is that she’s a positive figure, rather than a serial killer, which tends to be about the only role sociopaths/psychopaths get in fiction.

More important than the romance is Waverly’s relationship with her supposed best friend Maribeth. If you’re into toxic friendship books, HELLO THIS IS FOR YOU. Maribeth uses Waverly as her robot sidekick in her constant fight to remain as number one in the high school hierarchy. In exchange, she helps Waverly fake normal, schooling her on expressions and telling her who to date and what to do. This works for Waverly until she finds people who might actually accept her for who she is, rather than using her and trying to make her act a particular way.

I’d have liked a bit more focus on the toxic friendship than the romance, actually. As I said, the romance isn’t especially shippy. Mostly, I just don’t get why Marshall had a POV, other than to show us how squishy he is inside, but I think that’s pretty obvious. And, honestly, it doesn’t convince me that he’s in love with Waverly anymore than her POV would have. Waverly’s got the more interesting POV, and I’d have been happy to stay there.

On top of that, I really don’t think the magical realism did anything here. It’s basically the worst of magical realism, like that Keanu Reeves movie with the magical mailbox. Waverly has a magical candle that transports her to Marshall as she sleeps. Literally, that’s all it does. It’s such an artificial construct. There are so many other ways they could have met and established a secret relationship. The magical realism doesn’t make the real world feel more magical; it feels like a cheesy plot point.

The audiobook was a pretty good choice for this one. I love Karissa Vacker’s narration for Waverly a lot. I wasn’t as wild about Jesse Bernstein as Marshall, though I can’t specifically say why, aside from the fact that he just didn’t sound right to me somehow. Still, the dual narration audiobooks are quite nice.

Yovanoff has impressed me again on the whole, though there’s some clunkiness in her first non-horror tale.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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