By Your Side by Kasie West

5By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on January 31, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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3 Stars, Completed February 15, 2017

– SPOILER free –

By Your Side is a light contemporary about two teenagers that develop an unlikely friendship after they’ve been accidentally locked in the library for a weekend. Dax is the school’s loner with a bad reputation. Whereas, Autumn is a do-gooder that doesn’t notice much beyond her camera’s viewfinder and inner group of popular friends. At first, Dax and Autumn only recall the negative impressions they have  of each other and do not get along. But after a few nights of shared vending machine snacks and real talks, both realize that the other is much more than what first meets the eye. They decide to call an amiable truce and soon begin to enjoy each other’s company. And when the pair are finally found and released, the question is after all they’ve shared will they remain friends or will they ignore each other as they had before?

“You’ve definitely been added to the archive the last couple of weeks.” 
“What archive?” he asked. 
“The happy memories one. The one I’ll draw from in my dark times,” I said quietly. 
A smile stole away his hard expression before he wiped it off and pretended I hadn’t seen it. But I had. And it got added to the bank.

Reading this felt like what I would imagine how a cotton candy cloud would feel: fluffy and sweet.

Initially, when I read the premise I was concerned that this would exhibit some instalove. Thankfully, a couple wasn’t born over a weekend. Instead Kasie West makes the attraction between the two leads as natural as possible. She allows Dax and Autumn time to find reasons to fall in love, and this was what made the romance believable.

Another expectation I had was that this was going to be about books or at least incorporate bookish characters since it was set in a library. I mean, how else would people get trapped in one unless they sought out the place to read? Well, to my slight disappointment, one was there for the bathroom and the other used the library as a temporary getaway from a troubling life at home. Between the two, only Dax was a reader, and a casual one at that. Therefore, books (or anything literary for that matter) were seldom mentioned. However, with all that being said, the fact that By Your Side‘s storyline was unbookish didn’t bother me too much.

Actually, there were few things that I didn’t like about my first Kasie West book, but, regrettably, the two (rather big) flaws I did take note of made this drop to the 3 stars tier almost instantly.

Looking past the adorable romance, the characters and plot were greatly underdeveloped.

Autumn would be someone that I’d befriend in real life since we share some similarities-like the fact we’re both rule followers and don’t speak what’s on our mind most of the time. (Plus, we, seasons, have to stick together and all.) However, this doesn’t override my thoughts on how I believe that her character failed to reach its full potential. Her anxiety disorder felt like it was only an adjunct to make her appear three dimensional, but it didn’t display nearly enough depth to fully achieve that. The mental illness just wasn’t portrayed convincingly and didn’t really do much for me. I was also let down by how her connection with photography seemed superficial; I wish that part of her was explored further and played a bigger role.

As for the male main character, Dax was simply okay for lack of better words. Much of his dialogue and contribution made moments more romantic, but I also found his character to be flat and unmemorable. I, honestly, can’t differentiate him apart from the other brooding, bad boys in YA fiction.

And, lastly, the supporting cast was so terrible. I didn’t like anyone from Autumn’s circle of friends, and I especially could not stand the guys. I was perplexed that her friends didn’t notice her absence for as long as they did. I know they’re supposed to be teenagers but the boys were so incredibly childish. And I don’t care what his reasons were but the second love interest’s best friend was an absolute douche.

Alas, yes indeed, you read “second love interest” correctly. There was a love triangle involved albeit implicit. Which brings me along to the last bit I was so unpleased with: it was totally unrealistic how easy the love triangle was resolved by the end. I would have thought that the other love interest would have put up a harder fight, but he didn’t. It was nice that this prevented unnecessary high school drama but his quick acceptance just didn’t feel like an authentic defeat either.

In hindsight, aside from the general romance, By Your Side also doesn’t offer much of a storyline; the trapped in the library plot only exists for the first third of the book and the events that happen after that aren’t as dynamic.

Possibilities don’t hurt as much as realities. Possibilities are exciting and endless. Realities are final.

Anyway, I’m starting to realize I had more problems with By Your Side than I initially thought. But, despite my reservations, this still provided me a good time especially since I was in the mood for something light. And I still think this would prove to be enjoyable for readers that like sweet YA contemporaries or want a fast easy read.


Quotes were taken from an uncorrected advance readers copy.

Thank you Harper Teen (and the EpicReads booth at Yallfest) for giving me the opportunity to read and review By Your Side. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.

Summer’s Playlist:
First Kiss | You Know Where to Find Me | Kiss Me Slowly
*the bold/underlined are must listens!

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12 thoughts on “By Your Side by Kasie West

  1. amortalreader1 says:

    I’m a fan of Kasie West however I’m on the fence about this one. I have to say the premise draws me in but the idea that their is a love triangle puts me off. I just can’t be doing with that trope anymore, I feel like it’s so over done and I know people like some drama but can there just be a relationship without 2 men going after the same girl? Maybe that’s just the fact i’m bitter its never happened to me… I mean even one guy please?
    Haha! Great review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loewe Chan says:

    Sounds like a classic YA book. Lately I’ve found that every character or plot seems underdeveloped in YA – I’m not sure if this is because I’ve just been having a bad trek of books or if I’ve actually outgrown the genre.

    Like

  3. Lois says:

    Bleh to the love triangle. I’m all for a relationship that develops naturally but I’d rather not have that happen with a second guy introduced to the picture. I’m also sad to hear that the book doesn’t explore mental health and photography to it’s full extent. I’m told Kasie West is a must read author for cute contemporary romances but I’ll probably give this book a pass.

    Like

  4. Marie says:

    Such a lovely review, Summer! ❤ I really love fluffy books, but I’m sorry to hear it didn’t quite live up to your expectations and was quite underdeveloped. I only read one of Kasie West’s books for now – The Distance Between Us and really enjoyed its fluffy-ness ahah. I hope you’ll try out some of her other books 🙂

    Like

  5. Kathy @ Bookish Shelves says:

    I recently received this novel through a giveaway and I was super excited to read it since I am always a sucker for West’s contemporary pieces. I am sad to see that you didn’t enjoy it that much but I will definitely keep in mind what you mentioned when I read this in the future. Great review!

    Like

  6. Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books says:

    I feel the same way you do about this book! However, I encourage you to not let this get you down on Kasie West. It definitely was not up to her standards, in my opinion. The Distance Between Us and On the Fence both feature more developed plotlines and characters, and really are amazing.

    Like

  7. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence says:

    I’ve enjoyed all teh books I’ve read by Kasie West, they always feel so realistic and the relationships so natural. I love that the library was a getaway, but sad that it wasn’t the primary part of the book lol. A shame about Autumn’s (hehe it’s funny how her name is Autumn and yours is Summer :p) mental illness and how it wasn’t done too well. Lovely review though Summer, thanks for the review!

    Like

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