Published: 2013 (re-published I guess)
Genre: contemporary romance
Age Category: young adult
Source: publisher via Netgalley
Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help.
When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil.
As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?
When I first started this book, I wanted to DNF it. The characters felt so juvenile that I just didn’t want to waste my time. To me, it was also complete cringe. The second chapter is called “The Glide-By” where the girls glide by a group of guys and pretty much make them aware of their presence. It was just stupid.
“HS.” Jelena’s voice was loud and clear. We had a hottie spotting.
I’m not sure what exactly compelled me to continue reading this book, but I did.
The plot was really basic and every “twist” was cliché and I expected it. There was one scene near the end where I didn’t expect something that happened but it in no way advanced the plot nor did it stop Aurora from reaching her goal. It was just something stupid to make the plot slightly more dramatic and make a certain scene happen at the exact point the author wanted it to happen.
It was forced. And I really didn’t enjoy that. There were a lot of things in this book that I felt were forced. Certain scenes… dialogue… That really bugged me.
“What does inspire you?…
… “The way books affect us?”
“I love that Kafka quote: We need the book…”
Stupid excuse to put that Kafka quote into the book somewhere. Lots of things, annoyingly enough. annoyed me.
Before I start talking about all of the characters together, I’d like to talk about Aurora and Hayden, and their relationship. One, which I despised.
Aurora, for whatever reason, doesn’t like Hayden. And, any chance she gets, is awful to him. Hayden is a nice guy, but Aurora just doesn’t see that. Too often did I feel really, deeply upset for Hayden all because of Aurora’s attitude towards him. I just did not think she deserved him. We don’t know why Aurora no longer likes Hayden- they used to be friends- and so, we have no idea why she treats him the way she does. To me, I didn’t see any reason for her disliking Hayden as much as she did.
I think, in some way, Aurora and Hayden’s relationship was a little triggering for me. There were other things that also were triggering but funnily enough (of course, not really), this is what was triggering the most. I think, and, not to spoil anything but it was completely obvious, Hayden was in love with Aurora so much and Aurora treated him like scum. It really, really upset me. I don’t think it was supposed to but it did. All of his efforts were useless because she just couldn’t see. He was literally trying so hard to be everything she wanted and she couldn’t even see him for who he really was. She was stuck in the past, a stupid little mistake. All I wanted was for her to let him in.
As for Aurora herself, although briefly mentioned above, was a protagonist for once I didn’t really like. I think that affected my opinion on this book. True, she was harsh and unnecessarily mean, in my opinion, to Hayden, but she seemed to be quite a good friend. [The Netgalley description was different from the one above (goodreads) and I had no idea about this “Find a Prince” programme thingy.] She seemed very supportive of her friends but also kind of meddling. I didn’t like that. (It kind of makes sense now though because of her apparent title.)
As for Aurora’s parental figures. They kind of played a major role in her current mind set (can I say?) or attitude but didn’t have that big of a role in the plot. Her mother, absent from her life a lot, was superficial and only cared about herself. There are moments I really felt sad for Aurora just because of her mother. Her father, on the other hand, was the parent she lived with and really, we only saw a little more of him than the mother. The dad’s girlfriend- Dana Deforest, her dance teacher- was an awful woman and, when Aurora and her dad still had so much to get through together, she got it the way and tried to pull Aurora’s dad away from her. Ridiculous, spiteful, childish behaviour.
Sometimes, I was a little confused with the setting. Both the general setting, and within scenes. I thought it was set in an American high school but then there were phrases used that I’d say- using UK English. And so, that didn’t make sense. It wasn’t until I looked up the author and realised she was Australian that it kind of make more sense. Sometimes, within scenes, it was like one minute, they were in the kitchen and the next, in the pool. (Just a made up example.) I was confused. I thought the scenes themselves were also kind of messy at the start of the book. It got slightly better nearing the end.
The last thing I’d like to talk about is the ending. I sort of liked it, sort of didn’t. It was anti-climatic. (Because I had everything figured out.) And, the scenes leading up to it were ridiculous. The “plot twist” sort of thing I briefly mentioned above really annoyed me. Sure, I didn’t see it coming. But it really was not needed. It was like one last straw to create conflict before the end. But, that conflict lasted only a few pages before everything was solved. I don’t think it was dealt with well.
All in all, I disliked the main character, the plot was cliché and I felt sorry for the love interest for having to deal with said main character. That should never happen in a romance. (Unless in a joking matter, of course.)
Hayden, I would most definitely add you to my “book boyfriends” list but you and Aurora would never make it to my “OTP”s. You deserve better. [Gender-swap, Shawn Mendes- Treat You Better.]
“I won’t lie to you, I know she’s just not right for you…”