Saturday, January 20, 2018

Paper Hearts by Ali Novak | Book Review

Paper Hearts by Ali Novak
The Heartbreakers Chronicles #2
Date Read: Jan 4 to 5, 2018
First Published: 2014
Young Adult, Contemporary
"I'm sorry," he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. "It's just-I didn't want you to think of me any differently."
Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn't accept that he was the person looking down at me.
"My real name is Alec."
Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she's had the full weight of her mother's expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.
Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he'd flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he'd turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.
Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity's missing sister. And she's about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be...
The second installment in the Heartbreakers Chronicles follows a similar pattern to the first - it's a cute, fun, sweet, short read following a member of the popular boy band "The Heartbreakers", who falls in love with a girl who is "normal".

Which is, again, one of my favorite tropes.

It helps that our hero is my favorite member of said boy band; Alec. Let's just say, his reign as my favorite boy shall continue onward. I simply love his intuitive silence, imploring gazes and sweet, quiet nature. This boy doesn't have a mean, disloyal bone in his body, and you can always trust him to be the voice of reason and everyone's confidant. That's just... who he is.

Novak does a good job convincing you that he has met his match in Felicity. What I loved the most about her is that she felt like a real girl, and she even occasionally freaked out about the fact she was with Alec Williams. THE Alec Williams. It was adorable. She was adorable, and sweet, and well-meaning... even as her entire world (as she knew it) was falling apart. Actually, one of the things I wanted more of this book was the repercussions of that, especially with her mother, since it didn't really feel properly resolved.

But really, even though these books give you some darker themes, those are not what the novels are about. The novel is, quite frankly, about the romance that blooms between Alec and Felicity. And yes, that love blooms quite quickly. It was more noticeable in Paper Hearts since the setting is a week-long road trip, but at the same time the novel kind of makes you forget this small detail.

I think part of the reason this works better in Novak's books than in some others I've read is that the characters don't rush to define their relationship in big absolutes like "love". Instead, she lets the reader draw their own conclusion on the status of their feelings through their actions and words. Which works far better for me than being told.

I'm really curious to see which band member will get the next novel - Xander or JJ. I am far more interested in JJ's story (he's my second fave), but I also feel like, for the sake of the flow of these novels, he should be the last to find love, both considering his personality and his role in the group.

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