Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

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

Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come TrueHow Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 23, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

First Sentence: “There was no getting around the fact that Tinker Bell was a little bitch.”

Y’all, I freaking adored Sarah Strohmeyer’s YA debut Smart Girls Get What They Want, and I was very excited to get my hands on  her next YA effort, also given a super long title. What I wanted from How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True (henceforth to be called How Zoe because my fingers are tired) was a light, funny read to combat all the science fiction and dystopian books I’ve been reading. How Zoe was the perfect little palate cleanser, and just what I needed to read at this moment.

How Zoe is super cutesy. Like, cutesy to the power of kittens dressed up like princesses, okay? It is not, however, set in the 80s and does not involve cotton candy, as the cover seems to suggest. The mood is light-hearted and Strohmeyer’s goal is to make the reader laugh and smile. At this point in my reading, I really wanted something sweet and funny, and How Zoe fit the bill perfectly.

How Zoe takes place at a fairy tale-themed theme park, Fairyland. Zoe and her cousin (and best friend), Jess, have gotten coveted internships to work in the park over the summer with 38 other teens. Two of the interns, one male and one female, will win $25,000 dollar scholarships at the end of the summer for being the best of the best and showing that Wow! spirit. Both Jess and Zoe could really use that money, since Jess’ parents lost their jobs and have already used up her college fund, and Zoe’s family is strapped for money due to her late mother’s medical fees.

Fairyland serves as the perfect set up for romantic drama, because it’s 40 attractive kids away from home for the summer. Plus, there’s mystery and backstabbing and general rule-breaking. Yes, it’s a bit silly, but that’s totally the point. How Zoe is a great readalike for Strohm’s Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink or Sales’ Past Perfect, both of which take place at historical reenactment towns, and, personally, it’s my favorite of the three.

What I like best about Strohmeyer’s YA novels is that, though romance is a big part of them, she doesn’t spend all of her time on that. She really highlights the importance of female friendships and of reconsidering first impressions. Though Jess and Zoe don’t get to spend too much time together through the course of the book, because Zoe’s role keeps her so busy, Zoe always keeps Jess’ well-being in her thoughts. Never at any point does Zoe resent Jess for being the princess-type, while she’s not. Jess and Zoe are totally supportive of one another at every turn, and it’s so great to see healthy female friendships in YA.

My only real complaint with How Zoe is the ending. The last chapter feels rushed and infodumps a ton of information on the reader. What could have been a cool twist ends up feeling way too neat and rushed. Plus, the whole resolution seems a bit unlikely, even in the context of the story. Why would Zoe have specifically been chosen for this? How could it have been in play the whole time and what if it fell through? Both the conclusion and the romance, while decent, would have been much more satisfying with a bit more time put into them.

Even more than in Smart Girls, How Zoe is a fluff book. If you’re looking for something with a dark center or deep themes, How Zoe is not going to be your book. However, if you’re looking for a fast-paced read full of heart and humor, you can’t go wrong with Sarah Strohmeyer’s YA novels. I know all of her future YA efforts will continue to end up on my to-read list!

Favorite Quote:

“‘Really, whoever you are, your puns are pun-ishment enough.'”

23 responses to “Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True”

  1. Sunny Duvall says:

    I need to read her previous book, but Sarah’s writing sounds great. I think everyone needs a cutesy read once in a while and my time is coming up…like now. I’ve been really wanting to read this one so I’m so happy that it was as good as I hoped it to be! The ending will be my biggest problem though, I think. Great review!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

    • Christina says:

      Sarah’s books are so much fun! The ending is weak, but otherwise it’s like a big bowl of ice cream. Smart Girls is a little less fluffy, so you could probably read that one whenever.

  2. Yay! A cute fluff read. LOL those are my favorite kinds of contemporaries. Like Audrey, Wait. Have you read that one yet? I guess I need this book!

  3. Bookworm1858 says:

    Thank you for reminding me about Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink! I knew I had read another book set in a theme park-esque situation besides Past Perfect but couldn’t remember which one. Love the quote 🙂

  4. I am all for a cute fluff read here and there and it sounds like you read this one at the perfect time. I haven’t read any of the books that you mentioned that take place in a reenactment setting but now I really want to! It’s too bad the ending felt a bit rushed to you, that’s really annoying after having so much fun reading the books. I love the pun quote lol that is totally a bad joke I would make. Fabulous review, as always, darling!

    • Christina says:

      It was totally the right time. I’d been reading a bunch of science fiction and I wanted something entirely different! Of the three, this was my favorite reenactment place book. I would also make that bad joke. 😉

  5. KM says:

    Yes, yes so cute! And I totally agree about loving the romance as a side thing instead of the main focus. Really refreshing!

  6. It should come as no surprise that I really, really, want to read this. I have found both her YA and Adult books to be cute and fun. It sucks that the ending was rushed, I don’t like when authors do that.

    Also, I really love theme parks 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    I want to read this one, but I want to save it for when I need a super cute read between dark and gritty books or something. It sounds like a book I would enjoy a lot. It’s too bad the end was rushed, but I’m glad that you enjoyed this for the most part.

    • Christina says:

      I did. I really enjoyed reading it. Probably a four for the fun, but the ending required the subtraction of a point, but it wasn’t a huge impact on the act of reading if that makes any sense.

  8. Renae M. says:

    *looks at cover, then looks at rating* Uhm. *eyebrows hit hairline*

    Okay, no, haha, I get you with this review. I can occasionally take a break from my soul-crushing dark contemporaries and enjoy a fluffy, less serious book. And I like that, much as the cover speaks to the contrary, this book isn’t totally about kissing, and that it passes the Bechdel Test—or, I assume it would, anyway.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, I HATE this cover. It’s so dumb. The ARC didn’t have this cover, and though I don’t love that one it’s still way better than this one. Plus, this cover doesn’t fit the book at all.

      It totally does pass the Bechdel test. She talks to many girls/women about things that are not men. Woo! I feel like I should add a basic informational bit at the top. Does it pass the Bechdel test? Yes/no. Haha.

  9. Molli Moran says:

    Well, this just sounds darling! I am going to TRY to get it from Edelweiss if I can make time before it’s gone. I have her other book which I’m psyched you liked. Sometimes you DO just want a light, sweet read. Thanks for talking this one up, chica!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  10. Nori says:

    I need to read all of her books apparently! Sometimes, a fluffy YA is what the doctor ordered. Seriously, I need more of these kinds of books. I liked that you said it wasn’t all romance. It’s nice seeing these contemporaries focus on the friends too!

  11. This book. I want it. I could definitely use a cutesy book. I mean, I always can so this one will be perfect. I like that there’s romance AND focus female relationships because a lot of contemporary is total off balance when it comes to that stuff.

  12. I’m attracted to How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True because of cute cover and quirky title. It looks like perfect summer read. I’m sorry to hear that last chapters are rushed, but I think I will still give this book a chance.
    Nice review. 😉

  13. Estelle says:

    I still haven’t read Smart girls by Sarah but I have bought the eBook and it’s sitting there. I LOVE THAT THIS ONE IS SET AT A THEME PARK. Since I’m a Disney fanatic, I’m wondering if she was inspired by that. Ya know, sometimes you just need a fluffy book like this one and I am even more pumped to check out Smart and read this one in the future!!

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