The Fill-In Boyfriend Review


The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West 

 Title & Author: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
 Release Date: May 05, 2015
 Publisher: HarperTeen
 Series Details: Standalone
Page Count: 346 Pages
 Description: “When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable…convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
The problem is that days after prom, she can’t stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship?
Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West’s talent shines in this tale of one girl’s unexpected quest to find love…and possibly herself.”

Let the games begin… 

Instead of formally reviewing this, I figured I’d play a version of 20 Questions instead. The characters really seemed to enjoy this game, so hopefully it’ll help me enjoy this review.

1. Is it a 5-Star novel?  No, no it is not. I’d give this book a solid 2.5 stars. Continue playing the game to find out why.

2. Is this a standalone? Yes.

3. Is this an easy read? Absolutely! The joy of contemporary novels – especially YA contemporaries – is that they’re light, undemanding stories that typically only take a few hours to consume. They’re nice pace changers when you’ve read a lot of heavy novels or get caught in lengthy series.

4. Can you breakdown the plot? Sure thing! Seventeen-year-old Gia Montgomery discovers being dumped on prom night by her “beefy” (yes, that word was actually used) college beau is just the tip of her melodramatic iceberg. Balancing judgmental friends, a “at least quarter evil” archenemy, and a rocky relationship with her pretentious brother, Gia discovers her life may not be as perfect as it once appeared. Aided by her “fill-in boyfriend,” Hayden, Gia searches for her missing depth and discovers that life doesn’t have to be “perfect” for you to be happy.

5. Is it age appropriate?  I’m happy to report the answer is yes. I’d have zero qualms with a teenager reading this. Now, that’s not to say it’s wrong to read above your age group. I personally was reading Go Ask Alice in second grade and Rice’s Vampire Chronicles in middle school, but now that I’m older (and fully understand what I was reading) sometimes I’m shocked at the explicit content in YA. Did that just age me? =/

6. Is this better than West’s other novels? To be fair, I’ve only read 2 – including this one – and I rated them similarly. Personally, I did enjoy By Your Side more.

7. Would you read West again? I believe I will. As I said earlier, her work is straightforward and overall pretty enjoyable.

8. Okay so everything sounds great so far…what’s your problem? My biggest issue with FIB is that everything seems to sit on the surface. From her family members to her friends, all of Gia’s influences are just so basic. Like for real there’s a scene where the family gathers round and eats a Costco rotisserie chicken. Does it get more #SuburbanBasic than that? However, if this was done intentionally by West as a reference to “everything appearing perfect on the surface,” than the woman is a GENIUS!

9. Is your issue really with contemporaries? Nah bro. Let me break down my issues with the characters and plot more thoroughly with additional questions.

10. First up what’s the deal with Jules? I’m not spoiling anything to reveal that she’s the wannabe Heather Chandler of the group. (If I didn’t date myself before, that reference definitely did me in.) But honestly what is her deal? I’ve never witnessed a character that’s so bad at hiding their malicious behavior that somehow also escapes the attention of LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE!! I can’t go into too much hate rant or I’ll spoil things, but seriously this girl should be hit. In the face. With a chair.

11. Is Jules the worst? She’s pretty terrible, but I’m sorry to say Gia’s brother wins that award too. Drew and his crappy actions throughout the novel serve as a catalyst for Gia’s personal growth. And while that might seem great, the way he goes about it is just downright terrible. Again can’t delve further due to spoilers.

12. But our narrator is great right? This might be biggest issue with the narrative. While Gia is never explicitly mean, her negative qualities are easy to spot. She’s clingy, shallow, demanding, and at times quite ditzy. “Who’s Metallica?” Real quote, y’all. And while she does become more self-aware, I really don’t see the “personal growth” and transformation everyone else is raving about. She did improve, but she was still seeking validation – albeit not online – up into the final scenes.

13. Any other issues? My final problem stems from part of Gia’s self discovery. She notes that she’s never revealed her true self to anyone, which is why she never realized how jaded her world had become. The problem? Her best friend has been her friend for 10 YEARS! There is NO way a girl can be friend’s with the same girl and not realize it’s a surface-level friendship. In my opinion, this is the most unrealistic aspect of the whole novel.

14. Wow! That was a lot of venting. Do you feel better now? I feel validated in my opinions, but I’ll have to wait for the “likes” to truly see. 😉 *Was that a spoiler?*

15. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what you liked. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Her shoes. On the cover. I want them.

16. C’mon what did you like? Except for one glaringly obvious moment, I loved Hayden (the fill-in boyfriend) and his family. He’s charismatic, confident, and cool under pressure. Many of my smiles stemmed from Hayden’s one-liners and he kept me turning the pages. I actually think I would have LOVED this had it been written from Hayden’s perspective!

17. Best line in the book? “His eyes were on me, searching for something I wasn’t sure I possessed.”

18.Overall? It’s not my favorite, but it didn’t bore me.

I know it wasn’t 20, but they never got to 20 in the book either. And yes, it was a surfboard. 😉

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