Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Meant To Be
by Lauren Morrill
To be published by Delacorte BYR
on November 13, 2012

Source: Received e-ARC via NetGalley




My summary:  Julia has mixed feeling about her class trip to London. On the plus side, she'll get to explore the city where her parents fell in love.  On the negative side, she'll be away from Mark, the guy she thinks she's meant to be with. Plus, she's partnered up by the trip chaperone with Jason, the most annoying guy on earth. Before she knows it, she's getting dragged along to raucous parties, trading flirty texts with a mysterious Brit, and beginning to wonder if she and Mark are "meant to be" after all...

My take: YA contemporary is my favorite genre. I like dark, gritty contemporaries and light, fluffy contemporaries and everything in between. So I was sure that Meant to Be would be the perfect read for me, a combination of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Statistical Probability of Love and First Sight by Jennifer Smith.

While Meant to Be definitely had its good points, other aspects of the book just didn't work for me.
I loved the book's setting. London is an amazing city and I loved watching Julia experience it for the first time. The premise -- straight-laced girl who thinks she has her whole life figured out and gets thrown for a loop when she realizes that her plans aren't working out -- is one of my favorites. The cover is a work of genius. And the book had a very intriguing subplot involving mysterious text messages. I wasn't sure who was sending them, and it was driving me crazy trying to figure it out.

What kept me from falling head over heels for Meant to Be was Jason. I do not expect every YA love interest to be gorgeous and rich and sparkly. In fact, I love quirky, awkward love interests, like Cricket Bell in Lola and the Boy Next Door. But I had a hard time seeing Jason as anything but immature and annoying. To me, his interactions with Julia seemed more middle school class clown than dreamy book boy.

I love odd couples with a relationship that crackles with sexy antagonism, like Bianca and Wesley in The DUFF by Kody Keplinger or Sydney and Adrian in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. But I'd argue that this kind of relationship requires that the characters be equally matched. Because Julia is alone and friendless on the trip and suffers from low self-esteem -- she's constantly bemoaning the fact that she's short and her hair is frizzy -- Jason's constant badgering of her came off to me as mean. He's constantly mocking Julia and calling her names. He's also constantly chewing giant wads of grape bubble gum. At one point, he takes the chewed-up gum and sticks it onto a wooden crate at a record store. Just .... no.

That said, other reviewers whose opinions I respect absolutely adored Meant to Be.  So even though this book was just not my cup of contemporary tea, I urge you to check it out and make up your own mind. While Meant to Be and I were not entirely fated for one another,  I enjoyed Lauren Morrill's way with words and will happily check out whatever she writes next.

33 comments:

  1. Since I adored Ann and the French Kiss, I just might like this one. I didn't pick it up, since it seemed to similar but i may be wrong. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I loved the London setting too but as you describe so well, Jason and Julia did not seem like equals in a battle of wits. She seemed increasingly frayed and he was kind of mean. I love the way you describe it here!

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    1. I did think he was annoying and often mean, but other people did not. That's what makes discussing books so interesting!

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  3. The premise sounds so good. When I was reading the summary I already had doubts about Jason but I can go either way with that so i think I'll still give it a shot.

    I've read almost all positive reviews but it's good to see yours too. I'm more prepared going in.

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    1. I definitely related more to Julia, being as that I was kind of hyper-organized and studious myself in high school. But Kirkus Reviews thought Jason was doggedly charming and Julia was "bitchy."Go figure!
      Let me know what you think...

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  4. This sounded like a really cute and fun read to put me in a good mood. I have heard from a few people that Jason isn't much in the swoon department. I am disappointed by this. I think the London setting sounds amazing and I am curious who the test messages are coming from. I just assumed they were from Jason all along. Will probably grab this from the library sometime when I'm in the right mood.

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    1. LOL I was actually thinking of you when I was reading this. I was like, I can just do a Jen M and pretend she ends up with some other guy.

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  5. Hmm...I LOVED Meant to Be. Like, favorite YA contemp I've read...though, to be honest, I didn't start reading them until this year. I actually have AatFK and TSPoLaFS on my shelf at home. If you liked those better than MtB, I imagine they have to be absolutely the best books ever. :P Two more books I need to ensure make it onto the holiday catch-up pile.

    I connected with Julia from the first page. I seriously felt like I was reliving high school through her. I thought Jason was crass at first, especially after the incident on the plane, but he grew on me. Sometimes I just like the funny guy, and it doesn't matter that he doesn't have all the perfect lines or the swoon-worthy physique. Sorry he didn't work for you. But more ginger-y goodness for me! :D

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    1. Gingery goodness -- LOL.

      I read your review and I was like hmmm.... It's a weird disconnect when you and a friend just don't see a book the same way.

      I also related a lot to Julia and then when I realized that Jason was a guy she might end up with I was surprised. IDK, their chemistry just felt off to me.

      But like you, a lot of people loved this book so I hope everyone will read it and make up their own mind :)

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  6. Sorry you didn't like it as much as you wanted to... I can see where you are coming from with Jason, but I viewed it as pulling pigtails type thing with them :)

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. Pigtails -- LOL.
      Okay, who started this "if a guy is mean to you he likes you" rumor. Not true past fifth grade!!

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  7. Great review! I still really enjoyed the story, but the characters were the reason it wasn't a five star book for me and that was disappointing. I love it when I love the characters and both Jason's immaturity and Julia's lack of confidence made it really hard for me to truly care about them. I hated that she just let him drag her around all over the place and put up with his juvenile behavior. But the story was cute and I really enjoyed the ending, so it wasn't a total loss for me. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it more, but I can definitely understand your reasons!

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    1. I agree that the book did have some great things going for it: a cute concept and a great setting and I loved the mystery!

      It definitely wasn't a total loss and since other readers really enjoyed it, I definitely hope that people who haven't read it will give it a chance!

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  8. I have a hold on this one at the library, I got drawn to it by the cover! It still looks cute, and I can't wait to read it and will see what I think, thank you for letting know know your thoughts on it too!

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  9. It's too bad that this book wasn't great for you. I have it and am looking forward to reading it. Jason doesn't sounds like a character I will like very much though. Great review hon!

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    1. Well, you never know. What I found annoying you might see as boyish charm :)

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  10. I'm a huge fan of contemporary as well, and I've heard so many great things about Meant to Be. I'm looking forward to trying it out for myself. Nice review, Jen!

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  11. I have been on the fence on whether I want to read this one. The setting is something I would like but I wasn't sure if I'd like the plot and I guess now the characters. I think I will save this one for a library read someday. :)

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  12. I think I would check out this book for the cover alone -- it's gorgeous!! Too bad it really wasn't your cup of tea, but we can't love them all, right? Better luck on the next one!

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I know, right? It's one of my favorite covers of 2012.
      The book did have its good points and some readers did find Jason charming -- so don't let me discourage you!

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  13. I have not read this one but I do know what you mean about a fine line between adorable and quirky and annoying and frustrating. Sometimes what I find adorable and quirky, others find annoying and frustrating. That is the great thing about reading--we get to all have an opinion.

    BTW--I just saw your post about being wrong about The Hunger Games and I was the same way. When I first heard about that book I was like "who wants to read about that?" But on a whim I gave it a chance and fell in love. Now I am much more interested in trying dystopian books (and even turned some of my friends on to them) even when the back cover summary seems less than appealing to me.

    Shanan, The Book Addict
    www.thebookaddictnet.blogspot.com

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    1. And that is EXACTLY why it's important to try a book. You shouldn't take a pass on a book based on a review or just your own preconceived notion. You might miss out on something you'd absolutely love!

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  14. Haha! You're review cracked me up. Yeah, I'm definitely sort of turned off about the sticking a wad of gum in a box in a store! It sounds interesting, but I'm not certain it's for me.

    Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

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  15. I like all the comparisons you made in this review to demonstrate why this one didn't work for you when others of the same ilk did. I'm still on an ARC tour so I'll be reading it but I'm sorry you were disappointed with this one, Jen:/

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    1. I really do want to like each and every book, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. I'm happy that other people enjoyed it and hope you do too!

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  16. This one just does not SCREAM must read to me. I may come back to it at another time.

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  17. hmm, jason does sound annoying. I hate it when characters seem to just pick on people or have disgusting habits like leaving gum on places! Not sure this one sounds like my sort of thing either!

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  18. So, annoying waters don't run deep? I am really excited about this book but now a little less so. The whole idea of opposites attract, or even more so, just not realizing what is right in front of you is appealing to me. Annoyingly juvenile behavior is not. I get it enough at home with my son :) I will still read because like mention by others, I like the other books with this kind of dynamic when done well. We'll see!

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