30 June 2015

Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass

I really wanted to love LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES. I really did.

The thing is, the writing was good. Really, really good. Every word leapt off the page, and each page left me anxious for the next one. Every chapter ended on the perfect note to make me want to read the next one. It was hard to put down. My heart was racing at times.

In the end, though, I didn't like it.

It’s a strange feeling.

In LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES, Alex and her friends have developed a set of Theories about how they should deal with boys: never get too attached, always play hard to get, don’t give anything you won’t get in return. It’s a cynical approach to high school romance that they’ve developed to avoid getting hurt, by boys and by each other.

It is, quite obviously, doomed to failure.

So when Alex meets new boy Nathan, even though sparks fly, she has to put the theories into practice. And of course, even as she’s falling in love—really, truly falling, and he’s falling for her, too—it’s inevitably going to be a train wreck.

I don’t know that I’ve ever found a set of unlikable characters so compelling. Alex and her friends—Shelby, Danica, and Melissa—were so cruel to the other people in their lives: their ex-best-friend they shunned in the most horrible way possible, the boys they refuse to admit they have feelings for, and, at times, each other.

I so hoped things would turn out differently. I hoped they would learn different lessons. But the ending left me feeling empty inside. Sad and angry. The only character I came away liking was Trip, Alex’s ex-whatever, who actually ended up being something of a gentleman, in a really surprising way.

I just don’t know what to make of this. It just really, really wasn’t up my alley. But it was certainly compelling.

Postscript: I woke up the morning after finishing this still pissed off at the characters in it. I just can’t get over how memorable the characters were, but how despicable they ended up being. And I felt like the ending of the book was asking me to forgive them for things I didn’t think they’d come anywhere close to earning forgiveness for.

It’s so strange for a book to make me feel so many things and have them all be so negative.