Title: The Boy Next Door
Author: Katie Van Ark
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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? (Source: Goodreads)
Maddy and Gabe have always been partners in figure skating, but not in life. The problem is, maybe Maddy wants to take things off the ice too. Gabe isn’t ready for that, but he’s worried what’s going to happen to him and Maddy on the ice whether things heat up off the ice or not. When they start skating to Romeo and Juliet though things are going to change, whether they want them to or not.
I really didn’t like this, even though I wanted to so badly. I loved the idea of the skating partners falling in love, especially because there is something so romantic about pairs skating. The trouble is that the characters were so wholly unlikeable I didn’t buy into the story at all. The book is also just so dragged out, the should-we-or-shouldn’t-we plot is initiated on page 1. This is a huge mistake because it just makes the whole book drag on forever. Also, there’s an overabundance of skating puns and references, which started out cute but just annoyed me by the end of the book. It was cute, but it was not good.
The idea of this plot is adorable. Two skaters who have known each other forever fall in love. This is such a cute plot! It’s not executed well at all. They start arguing with each other about whether or not to pursue this relationship right away, like page 1. The trouble is, this introduces the inciting incident in the plot waaaaaay to early. This leads to a sense of drag in the plot because you already know the central issue and you also know how its going to end, the middle stuff needs to be cute to really keep things going. It’s cute, but it’s not that cute. There’s skating and romance which is adorable. But there’s also a lot of wishy washy dirt bag boyfriends and homophobia that make the whole book a little annoying and a lot gross. Gabe spends the entire book flipping and flopping around trying to make up his mind. Maddy spends the whole book being annoying, weak, and lets herself get kicked around by not just Gabe, but her friends and parents too. There’s this whole side plot with her parents being obnoxious and keeping secrets from her. And when you learn the secrets you will honestly be so pissed because who keeps that kind of stuff from their kids?!?! I just didn’t buy into any aspect of the plot, and even the stuff I liked (the skating and flirty) was washed away in a flood of ick and annoyance.
I’ve already expressed the main points of annoyance with the leads in this book. Gabe is wishy washy. He’s also a dirtbag, a former “player” who’s still playing around. Maddy is weak and whiny. She doesn’t do anything for herself and lets Gabe play her. Together they are annoying. They don’t do much of anything it seems except try to have sex constantly (!!) and everywhere (!!). It’s pretty annoying and really doesn’t fit into their apparent drive to be successful figure skaters. Their relationship is so weird and terrible that I didn’t buy into at all. The parents are equally annoying, they hide everything from their kids and really just generally putter around being annoying. All other characters are just rude, annoying, and wastes of space in the book. The whole cast is just bleh.
So about the puns. They were cute at first, really they were. But by the end it was just…boring and played out. After 300 pages of equating themselves to skates it got kind of weird. Not a huge fan of this.
The homophobia? There’s constant references to people bullying Gabe for being “gay” this is not really dealt with in anyway, except Gabe being like “ew being gay is gross, but I’m not homophobic I have a gay friend”. RIGHT. OKAY. SURE. There are a lot of issues like this in the book that just get swept aside and never get dealt with.
Overall this book was just…frustrating. There was some cute to it, but mostly no. I don’t recommend this book at all, it’s not even cute enough to warrant telling you it’s a refresher. It wasn’t, it was just infuriating.