Executor of the Find a Prince Program™ and future author, sixteen-year-old Aurora Skye is dedicated to helping others navigate the minefield that is teenage dating. Counsellor-in-residence at home, where her post-divorce ad-agency father has transformed into a NAD (New Age Dad) intent on stripping his life bare of ‘the illusionary’ (i.e. the removal of home furnishings to the point where all after-hours work must be done in lotus position on a hemp cushion) Aurora literally lives and breathes Self-Help.
When the beginning of the school year heralds the arrival of two Potential Princes™ who seem perfect for her best friends Cassie (lighthouse beacon for emotionally fragile boys suffering from traumatic breakups) and Jelena (eye-catching, elegant and intent on implementing systems of serfdom at their school) it seems as if Aurora’s fast on her way to becoming the next Dr Phil.
As Aurora discovers, however, Self-Help is far from simple. Aurora’s mother arrives home from her extended ‘holiday’ (four years solo in Spain following the infamous ‘Answering Machine Incident’) throwing the NAD into further existential crisis. With Valentine’s Day drawing closer and the new Potential Princes not stepping up to the mark, Aurora is literally forced to take to the stage to throw two couples together. However, being cast opposite Hayden Paris (boy next door and bane-of-Aurora’s life) in the school production of Much Ado about Nothing brings challenges of its own. Not only does Hayden doubt that Cupid is understaffed and thus in dire need of Aurora’s help, but playing Beatrice to his Benedict throws her carefully preserved first kiss for a Prince into jeopardy. As Aurora races to save love’s first kiss and put a stop to the NAD’s increasingly intimate relationship with her Interpretive dance teacher (guilty of putting Aurora on detention for a ‘black aura’) she is left wondering who can a self help guru turn to for help? Can she practice what she preaches? And can long-assumed frogs become Potential Princes?
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
Wow, this one is a hard one to review. To start with, when I first picked up this book and started reading, I had an intense desire to DNF it. For realz. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t in the right mood (I was extremely tired and nodding off), but Aurora bugged the crap out of me at the beginning, and I just didn’t know if I could read a whole book where the protagonist was sooooo…not me. It wasn’t that I thought the book was badly written or anything, but the characters just didn’t seem to display a lot of qualities that I could relate to. In fact, they’re kind of the popular crowd, and I wondered if they were gonna get a bit Mean Girl-ish at times. Quite frankly, I looked at the blurb on Goodreads, and it did NOT ring a bell and seemed consistent with what I was reading and so I was baffled as to why I would request this book. But I went back to NetGalley, and the blurb there is completely different, so it made more sense. So then I went and read some reviews, and they mentioned Much Ado About Nothing, and since I adored the movie adaptation with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Brannagh (and my love of my high school years, Robert Sean Leonard), I thought maybe I should give this book some more time.
And then I kind of got sucked in. Aurora started to display a lot more depth than I had initially given her credit for. Hayden became kind of swoon-worthy. Some of her friends became really intriguing characters in their own right. And they started the play, and I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about that play.
And darnit, it kind of started to remind me of Clueless, so I didn’t even mind the popular crowd because Aurora was so Cher sometimes…wanting the people she loved to be happy, and trying, with the best intentions, to make that happen. The problem is, while I do LOVE Clueless, the meddling got a bit over the top in this book. Some parts were endearing, and some parts made me want to cringe. Aurora was just so freaking VEXING! She was the epitome of overdramatic. But she had some really sweet spots. GAH! Love or hate? Or neither? She had great intentions, and she was a quirky one, but in the end she was a bit too much for me.
And quite frankly, that’s because of her obliviousness and over the top reactions to Hayden. I just never got it. He was frustrating, no doubt about it, but her reactions were an 11 (you’re welcome for the This is Spinal Tap reference). And because it’s so obvious how Hayden feels right from the beginning, this was just ridiculously frustrating. He was so sweet, and so genuine, and sure…brash and annoying at times. But I honestly don’t know how he held out hope. I would have dropped her like a Hot Pocket way earlier. At least the ending was really really satisfying, even if I had to wait until the VERY END *to* be satisfied.
So while I thoroughly parts of this book in the end, there were just too many pet peeves for me to round up. More minor pet peeves: Ms. Deforest and the unbelievability of her character and that ridiculous class; her way-too-mean Mom and my dissatisfaction with how that resolved; Jelena never getting her comeuppance for the mean Claire things, but I suppose everyone has that friend who isn’t as nice, but you don’t give up on because of history; the setting was confusing b/c it’s probably Australia, what with the January start to the school year, but they would make some references that felt like the US, almost like they changed the book for the re-release, but didn’t do a consistent job of it; and OMG WHO GOES INTO A PLAY AND DOESN’T READ THE WHOLE THING WHEN THEY GET THE FREAKING LEAD ROLE!!! I mean seriously, you start readthroughs and you don’t know how it ends?? A week later and you still don’t know how it ENDS??? No. Just no.
Now I need to go watch me some Much Ado About Nothing. And maybe watch that Romeo + Juliet scene again too.