Mini Reviews: Alex Approximately, Serious Moonlight, & Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Back at it again with another mini reviews post. This time I’m going to be talking about the three Jenn Bennett books that I have read recently. I’ve heard people talk about all of these before, in fact I normally hear people speaking quite highly of these books so that’s why I decided to finally pick them up.

I think I’ll write my reviews in order of how I read them, so that starts off with Alex, Approximately.

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Synopsis:

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

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This was by far my favorite of the three books. I rated it 4 stars and actually really enjoyed it! I found the sassy “hate” flirting between Porter and Bailey to be so perfect (sassy flirting is the best) and I found Bailey to be incredibly relatable. Her “dodging” methods were spot-on with things that I do and I found myself feeling for her a lot.

My biggest gripe with this book was how overly emotional everyone got. Like both Porter and his father got extremely angry and violent over events and that just really put me off. I think that this had a decent balance between the traumatic backstories and the happy go lucky teen romance. Also this is supposed to be a retelling of You’ve Got Mail, which I have never seen, soooo I can’t make any comparison to that.

The next one that I read was Starry Eyes.

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Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

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This was my least favorite of the three. I rated it 2 stars. This entire story was just outrageous. Like the entire “conflict” could have been dealt with had Zorie even tried to talk to Lennon. And honestly, who in their right mind would leave people stranded out in the middle of nowhere. That whole aspect of the book made me so mad. What an entitled group of side characters, HATED them!!! Also so many parts were just really out there, with bears and mountain lions and lightning…. How unlucky can two people get?? This book sounded sooooo good from the synopsis, a Shakespeare retelling and camping? Sign me up!! But the execution just wasn’t there. I didn’t really like any of the characters and I spent most of my reading just shaking my head in frustration.

Oh, and the fact that this book started off with Zorie literally using her telescope to peep on Lennon… Gross.

Lastly, I read Serious Moonlight.

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Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

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Birdie was hands down my least favorite character from any of these books. I had to drag myself through over half of this book. Honestly, the only reason why I rated this three stars was because there was a good 150 pages that charmed my pants off and kept me from DNF’ing this altogether. The first half was boring, the ending was convoluted, the middle was just right.

So I probably could have done an entire review for just this book alone but I’ll try to be brief. Birdie was so incredibly naive and genuinely stupid and fucking selfish and I can’t stand her. I don’t know if that was purposeful because of her “sheltered” childhood but I still couldn’t even look past that and give her the benefit of the doubt. Daniel was precious and can I say that he’s too good for Birdie? Because he’s Too. Damn. Good. for Birdie.

By the end of this, I think too many plot lines converged and it got overwhelming in a bad way. I finished the book unimpressed and wanting more.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think that I’ll be picking up any Jenn Bennett books in the future. I can see why people like her books, but they’re  just not for me. Also, coming from an asexual person, I understand why putting sex scenes into YA novels is important but damn do we really need to make it so pivotal?? It’s not life changing, as all these characters made it out to be… I think that it could have been written a lot differently. Honestly had me looking at these relationships a lot more like young lust instead of young love. But, again, I’m asexual so you can take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

All of these books sounded great from reading the synopsis but I was left wanting more. And, as is a problem I have with so many other books that I read, so much of the conflict within these books could have been solved with communication and I will just continue sighing heavily over this. Anyways, was not really impressed and I’m definitely looking forward to reading some better books in the next few weeks.

 

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