by Kasie West
To be published by Harper Teen
on January 17, 2016
Source: eARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?My take: I enjoyed Kasie West's paranormal duology much more than her contemporaries, which are usually a little too fluffy for me. When I read the synopsis for By Your Side, I was super-skeptical. Well, I'm glad I read it, because I liked it much more than I thought.
Main character Autumn is dutiful, responsible, and anxious -- she has an anxiety disorder that she tries to keep under wraps. When she's invited to a friend's cabin for a long holiday weekend, she says yes because Jeff, the guy she's crushing on, will also be there. But when the group leaves her behind at the library and takes off, her overnight bag in the trunk, she finds herself trapped. Soon she discovers that she's not only trapped, she's trapped there for the foreseeable future with the school bad boy, Dax.
Okay, I'll pause here to address a few things that were sticking points for me when I read the synopsis:
1) How is it possible for two tech-addicted, tech-savvy teenagers to be cut off from civilization ... in a library? Well, Autumn's phone is in her overnight bag. Dax (for reasons the book explains) doesn't have a phone. The library computers require a log-in. Fair enough, but a library should have landlines, right?? I can't remember if the book addresses this, but in any case I was able to get over my "how could this really happen?" skepticism.
2) Is there a love triangle? Technically yes, but it didn't feel like the bad kind of triangle to me. Autumn clearly likes Jeff, but it also was clear to me that he was wrong for her and she realizes this eventually too.
So, alleged bad boy Dax and good girl Autumn are locked up in the library. Anyone else getting a huge Breakfast Club vibe? I have to confess that the time these two spent in the library wasn't my favorite part of the book -- the two of them find not-that-interesting things to do and flirt a little. But then things turned around. In The Breakfast Club, I always wondered what happened when these six kids saw each other at school the next day -- they probably went back to their own friend groups, right? Loved that this book actually showed that part of the story! Clearly, Dax and Autumn have formed a bond in captivity, and also have to deal with his complicated family issues, her anxiety, and the situation with Jeff (also complicated but involves spoilers.)
I was really rooting for this couple to make it work through all their obstacles. I still like West's Pivot Point duology best of all her books (if you haven't read those, you should!) but this is now my favorite of her contemporary YA romances.
If you've read this one, let me know what you thought in comments!