March 31, 2017

Review: Alex, Approximately

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Grade: B+
Release date: April 4, 2017
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.
Summary: Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Jenn Bennett has done it again. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart was a successful blend of romantic conflict and plot outside of the romance, and Alex, Approximately is no different.
Both Bailey and Porter have personal problems that they are trying to overcome, and they both have their own goals, although Porter's were featured a little less than Bailey's. I also liked the focus on family and friendship. Bailey's mom isn't perfect, but she isn't vilified either, and her dad is great and he tries hard, and Bailey isn't mad that he's dating again. I also liked that Bailey and Grace's friendship wasn't all smooth sailing, but their fights aren't petty. Their friendship pushes Bailey to trust people more and not keep them at arm's length.
I love any book reminiscent of You've Got Mail, and this one delivered - for a bit. Bailey and Alex stop messaging altogether, and I honestly thought that would be a bigger part of the plot. I also thought she'd hate Porter for longer, so they get together a bit too quickly for my tastes. I mean, I liked them together of course, but I wanted more drawn-out tension. They didn't need to get together on the last page, but I would've liked a little more build-up.
I did like how the online friends plot resolved and that Bailey's dad was smart enough to figure things out, and I liked how "Alex" and Bailey bonded over movies and then each chapter began with a film quote (and the last chapter got a You've Got Mail one, which made me exceedingly happy). 
The Davey subplot bugged the heck out of me. I know it was there for good reasons, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.
A smattering of foul language. I think I only caught the f-word once or twice and the s-word around a dozen times. More sexual content than I like in my YA books, but it's less graphic than other books.

One small little note: both Bailey and "Alex" have just finished their junior year, but Porter's already eighteen? So I'm not sure how that would work, and I don't remember it ever being addressed.

The Verdict: So, so good. I'm really liking this crop of You've Got Mail-inspired stories cropping up (and not just because I'm writing one).

Will I be adding this book to my library?: It's preordered!

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