Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

The Kissing Booth
by Beth Reekles
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
ARC provided by publisher for unbiased review
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A cool, sexy romance novel  written by seventeen-year-old British sensation Beth Reekles. Meet Rochelle “Elle” Evans: pretty, popular—and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile—and a total player. When Elle decides to run a kissing booth at her school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer. This romance seems far from a fairy tale. Is Elle headed for heartbreak or will she get her happily ever after?
I first heard about Beth Reekles the seventeen year British high school student on the Today Show when it was announced that she landed a three-book, seven figure contract with Random House which includes her first novel the Kissing Booth. It was a sensation on the writer-reader Wattpad community and had over 20 million reads. I found myself curious so when Random House asked me to review the book I jumped at the chance.  I am delighted that I did and very excited to see what this young author has in store for us next. The Kissing Booth offered us fleshed out, lovable characters, a swoon-worthy bad boy, friendship and first love. 

The tale begins when we meet Rochelle “Ella Evans who is almost seventeen and never been kissed. Her best friend since forever is Lee, and he happens to share the same birthday. There Mom’s were best friends, they live around the corner from each other and the families interact. Now Lee has an older brother, the smexy, hot-head jock Noah Flynn. His friends all call him Flynn. He is a bad-ass, popular, a player and academically brilliant. Elle has crushed on him forever but he’s never treated her like anything but a kid sister that is until the Kissing Booth at the high school carnival. The tale that unfolds is sweet, complicated and one girl's experience with first love.

Reekles does a wonderful job of fleshing out the main characters of Ella, Lee and Noah. While the secondary characters easily fell into normal high school stereotypes, the main characters offered up something more. Ella is sweet, and in a lot of ways a typical teenager she is confused by her feelings and her loyalties. At times she wavers back and forth as she tries to please everyone. She likes Noah but worries about how it will affect her friendship with Lee. While at times I wanted to shake her for all of her contemplating and secrets she really behaved the way one would expect someone her age to act. At times she showed a level of maturity I appreciated it. Ella and Lee together are a riot; two peas in a pod and all that. They really march to their own drum and make even silly ideas seem cool. Noah is complicated and smexy and oh boy does he know it. He flies off the handle and gets into fights but somehow avoids suspension. I really wanted to understand where some of his volatile personality came from and wish there was a tad more depth there. He is very protective of Ella and was at times almost possessive, but slowly we begin to see why or rather he does. We see growth in him and in all of the characters and how they communicate. The parents were present but as a parent I cringed at some of their parental decisions and discussions.

The tale itself is your typical high school romance, complicated by Ella and Lee’s friendship and of course Noah’s bad boy image. Were there any surprise? Nope. Instead it was a wonderfully paced coming of age tale about first love, friendship and growth. The chemistry between Noah and Ella felt real, and while it started off physical it developed into something more. So often these tales have the girl drastically changing and it was refreshing that Ella didn’t go all gaga over Noah. Watching Ella discover her true feelings and dealing with the relationship was fun to watch unfold. There is implied sex and underage drinking. The parents seem to condone this behavior with remarks like “don’t drink too much” which made me want to rip my hair out!  I guess if I were a seventeen year old writing about perfect parents this is how I'd want them to act instead of going all parental on me. I easily consumed this book in two sittings as it flowed easily, and the character interaction were engaging. The ending was beautifully done, and very realistic.  

The Kissing Booth offers a sweet, funny, complicated tale of first love and friendship. It's a light, fun read and highly entertaining.  Beth Reekles will be an interesting author to watch. Kudos to Random House for signing this young author.

Three and half cups of double espresso out of five

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At July 17, 2013 at 10:07 PM , Anonymous Barbara Walker said...

Cute! I saw her on The Today Show too and fell in love with her. She's so down to earth, you can't help but hope she has a great career if her books can live up to the hype. I think I'm glad about the way the story was written - she wasn't trying to be something she's not, if you know what I mean? Great review - I think I might pick this one up as a little sweet break when I need one.

At July 17, 2013 at 10:09 PM , Anonymous Pooja said...

Loooved the video! She sounds like a really nice person and 17 years and published- wow, that's amazing xD Sounds like a great book, will definitely buy a copy when it's out here!

At July 17, 2013 at 10:32 PM , Anonymous Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I wonder if it isn't so much the perfect parent reaction, but more of a compromise of reality vs. fiction. I think most parents don't condone it, but don't say anything either. That would probably make you rip your hair out too, tho... :P This sounds so interesting. I would totally read it and see the talent this young persons possesses!

At July 17, 2013 at 10:54 PM , Anonymous Trish Hannon said...

Can't believe I have never heard of this British author. What a great success story for her at such a young age. Cute plot too even if I'm laughing at the perfect parents! Sounds great :-)

At July 17, 2013 at 11:12 PM , Anonymous Jennifer Bielman said...

Wow, that's so cool. Reekles must feel so lucky to get her books published so young. I actually love the sound of this books. It's usually not my think but I can do sweet romances every once in a while.

At July 17, 2013 at 11:12 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

Right..she like has college totally paid for and she is in high school. I am looking forward to watching her develop as a writer and this was a fun read.


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