January 28, 2015

Review: The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark

The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
Publication date: Jan. 6, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls. Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks. But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared? (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
The Boy Next Door alternates between Maddy and Gabe — best friends since childhood, figure skating partners for nearly as long and next-door neighbors. Maddy has always had feelings for Gabe but he’s set on thinking of her like a sister. Instead he’s content with his two-week long flings (which sadly enough, he uses Maddy to help him break things off). They’re a super talented ice skating pair and their programs have always been more fun than romantic. But their coach thinks it’s time to change that and assigns them to skate to Romeo and Juliet. Suddenly the romance they need to convey on the ice blurs the lines between them and spills off the ice. Which makes Maddy happy and Gabe? Confused and fearful for their friendship.

I really liked the concept for this book. As I’ve said many times before, I’m a sucker for friendships turning into more. Then throw in the fact that they live next door to each other and the figure skating? It’s a set up I thought I was bound to enjoy.

(Major) Reservations
My problem with the book though was ultimately its execution. Given Maddy’s feelings for Gabe and his unwillingness to face his attraction to her for fear of what could happen to their relationship (on and off the ice), I understood why having to do a romantic skating program could cause tension. Of course there’s going to be mixed reactions and emotions. But seriously, it went from the coach assigning them this new piece to Gabe checking her out and then Maddy basically propositioning him so that their attraction will reflect when they skate. This happens in a matter of pages and it had my head spinning. It didn’t seem like a natural progression. And that’s how the book read for the most part. Volleying back and forth between Maddy throwing herself at him, Gabe being scared, both looking for excuses to hook up as “practice” for on the ice. It just felt odd and unnatural and at times, very, very corny. It was frustrating because there is potential here. The characters are likable and I loved all the actual figure skating stuff (talking about triple Axels and competitions). The parents even play a big role in the book too, which I enjoyed. But the romance overwhelmed and dragged the book down.

Do I recommend?
It wasn’t for me and I don’t see myself recommending it. But it is a quick read so if you really want to check it out, I would borrow it from the library.

3 comments:

  1. Ack, that sounded bad. Especially that they're best friends and suddenly just like that. One of the things I hate the most is a best friend romance done badly. Saddens me AND infuriates me. Thank you for the honest review, Rachel!

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  2. Hmmm. This is the first review I've read for this one. It's always unfortunate when a story doesn't meet its potential but thanks for sharing the balanced review!

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  3. Honestly, yes to everything you've said about The Boy Next Door. There's certainly potential to this story, and I was so hoping to love it. But I didn't either, boo :(

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