Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After #1 (1/?)
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on January 12, 2016
Genres: [YA] Contemporary
1.5 Stars, Completed January 17, 2016
– minor SPOILERS ahead –
I think I’m the black sheep with this one. I hate to confess that this book was just very awkward to read.
Bookishly Ever After is a story about a girl named Phoebe that loves all things bookish. She’s an avid reader of ya romance, cosplays to her book signings, and even has a line of book boyfriends. She also happens to be a profound archer and enjoys knitting for those she deems knitworthy. Then her best friend convinces her that she should give real guys a chance and suggests Phoebe to woo Dev, a hot, Indian-American theater and band enthusiast, who seems to have a thing for Phoebe as well. With all the fictional fantasies Phoebe’s recollected from her beloved books she creates a journal full of advice on flirting and dating, and tries her hand of making a real guy fall for her. But she soon becomes disillusioned by how she’s perceived real life to be compared to the perfect fictional world literature presents. Perhaps, reality is too overrated after all.
In terms of the premise, Bookishly Ever After was supposed to be a formula for success. Because, come on, we, readers, adore books that feature bookworms (Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, Hermione from the Harry Potter series; should I name more?) There should be a guaranteed instant connection between the reader to protagonist, right?
Well, actually, we didn’t get a witty and charming heroine in this after all. I didn’t really have a problem with Phoebe’s character but it was hard to connect to her. It sort of felt like she was going through the motions with spitting out fangirl jargon such as “reality is overrated,” “book boyfriends are the only awesome type of boyfriend,” and other cringeworthy phrases I’m sure real bookworms wouldn’t really admit in real life. I don’t know, maybe I’m being to critical since I’m not that type of reader. Yes, I am a fangirl but I felt like Phoebe’s portrayal of fangirls was a little overboard and stereotypical.
And speaking of stereotypes, her love interest, Dev combines every single Indian stereotype into one. Growing up with a lot of friends from South Asian countries, I’ve grown acquainted with some of the culture. So I felt a lot of aspects to his character were overly cliche. Was it necessary to include that he made a cameo in a Bollywood movie? I think now that I’ve started to read more books that feature diversity, I’ve become more picky with how “diverse” characters are presented. I say A for deciding to include an Indian character but C for actual execution.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the rest of the cast redeemed the weak main characters. I couldn’t find a character that possessed depth. Therefore the relationships and friendships between the cast were poor and appeared disconnected. The dialogue was more like fillers than anything. I didn’t really understand the purpose of most of the friends’ banter and conversation.
Which brings me to the disappointedly dragged out plot. This isn’t really considered a spoiler since it’s part of the official premise: Literally the only thing that happens in this book is Phoebe trying to pursue Dev via borrowing her favorite heroines’ personalities and lines from books. It made my toes curl to hear the lines she said. She even admits half the time that she’s embarrassed herself. I knew some moments were going to be cheesy, but I was prepared to laugh at the adorable silliness. I did have a bunch of laughs but for the utter ridiculousness and puerility.
Also, I have to mention that this story does not read like it was intended for a young adult audience. The dialogue and writing was much more juvenile than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I do have an appreciation for middle grade and even children’s books even now that I’m older. But the characters in this seemed to be overtly immature and childish when they’re all supposed to be high school juniors. (I don’t know how many times Phoebe stuck her tongue out out of jest in this story.) And you know it gets a little ridiculous when 5th graders are giving Phoebe advice on how to flirt and ask a guy out…
The only reason why I’m giving this nearly two stars is because of one nice bonus I wasn’t anticipating: Phoebe and her friends are actually K-drama watchers! I have to confess that that tiny mention and appreciation for Asian entertainment made me smile.
With all this being said, I have to admit that my reading experience may be somewhat influenced by the fact that I think I got a defective ARC. This is the first time it’s happened but there were gaps in words and the alignment was totally off for some chapters. It was a distraction to try to decipher where the missing text went to or what it even was to begin with.
Overall, it makes me really sad to say that this was a huge letdown for me. Instead of a loveable fictional friend we found ourselves a spineless pushover (she even admits it several times in the text!), which isn’t really the ideal representation for us, bookworms. Instead of a swoonworthy teenage relationship we had an overly dragged out plot that made me cringe half the time for the cheesiness. And instead of a book that featured diversity we had an abundance of unflattering stereotypes. Now, I’m only curious about how this is going to have sequels since the book seemed to wrap up cleanly. Will there be other bookworms that share their stories? Or is it the continuation of Phoebe’s adventures? Regrettably, I’ll probably won’t find out since Ever After doesn’t seem to be a series for me.
Special thanks to Spencer Hill Contemporary for providing me this review copy of Bookishly Ever After. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.