Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie West
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository | IndieBound
Series: No
Release date: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 352 pages
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Rating: I am betrayed and disapoint

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

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?

You guys, I am so betrayed.

This book could have been my everything. A fluffy romance novel about a ship TRAPPED IN A LIBRARY?? By Kasie West, goddess of squee, author of my favores The Distance Between Usand PS I Like You?? STARRING AN ANXIOUS HEROINE??? Be still my heart! Hold back the tears! My body is ready!

My body was lied to.

This wasn't a "trapped in a library" romance at all. They're only in the library for under 39% of this very quick read, and then BOOM! Plotberg hit, and we are shunted sideways into a book I absolutely did not come here to read. This is the first Kasie West book that hasn't worked for me. The ship is pretty cute, though, and I really like the boy and Autumn's anxiety for the most part (though I have quibbles), but it all feels a bit...DILUTED. It needed more oomph. The amps needed to be turned up to eleven. They were kinda chilling at a snoozy four, minus a deeply awesome kiss, but it takes aaaages to get there. Generally I was bored and slouchy and grouchy and waiting for personalities to develop. 

Yes, bored. I was so bored! I wanted to feel the squee. I wanted to relate to Autumn, a fellow anxiety sufferer, to the point of tears, but I did not. I wanted to ship to the point of OMG, but I just kind of vaguely liked them. They were cute. Quite cute at times, and definitely good for each other, and definitely the best part of the book. But I never got the spark.

I am a wilting flower of disappointment and dismay.

I like Dax's monosyllabicness, though I wish we'd gotten to know him more beyond his tragic backstory. That's the thing: we don't get to know anyone, even Autumn. There characters all felt a bit flimsy. Don't even get me started on the complete nonentities that are Autumn's (AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL) friends. (THEY JUST LEFT HER AT THE LIBRARY AND DIDN'T NOTICE AND NO ONE'S REALLY VERY SORRY BUT WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HATE THEM AND AND THEY'RE ALL AWFUL AND BLAND WHO IS A CONNOR WHAT IS A ZACK WHEN I GET BORED I GET ANGRY I'M SORRY FOR THE CAPS)

Sidenote on Autumn's anxiety: my anxiety is moe of the social bent, whereas she clearly has general anxiety disorder, and while a lot of things about her anxiety rang true to me, a couple things did not. She said a lot of the right things, but there were certain scenarios where she was cool as a cucumber that would make virtally all anxiety sufferers FREAK OUT, most notably when she drives hours to visit SPOILER'S SPOILER, a person she has NEVER MET in a city she doesn't know AT ALL and COMPLETELY SPUR OF THE MOMENT. Take one of these elements, and I'll be spiraling, but all of them? Yeah, oh my god, panic city. But Autumns just heads off without a care. Maybe her triggers are very different from mine (being trapped in a library would make me panic A LOT at first but then I'd be like oh my god this is my heaven I hope no one finds me for at least three days)

But I did appreciate that Autumn's anxiety was so integral to her personality (possibly too integral). I could tell that West was approaching her anxiety with a thought of though, and there were definitely a lot of instances where I was like "oh, wow, that is totally an anxiety thing, kudos and brava". But I didn't connectthe way I could, which is so weird when Autumn is on the surface so like me. But I guess the problem was I have no idea who she is below the surface. Alas and alack.

But the saddest aspect of this whomp, whomp of a read for me: that this is such a waste of the library concept. They could have been trapped anywhere. They don't even read! There are even books on the cover! Why are there no books in your book? Autumn, do you even KNOW what those square-ish things are? HOW ARE YOU BORED YOU ARE TRAPPED IN A LIBRARY!!! READ A BOOK FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY THIS LIBRARY ADVENTURE WAS ENTIRELY WASTED ON YOU WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING THE YOUTHS OF TODAY THEY MIGHT AS WELL HAVE BEEN LOCKED IN A STORAGE CONTAINER OR AN OFFICE CUBICLE OR A TOY STORE BECAUSE ALL THEY DID WAS FLING FRISBEES AND WATCH LOCAL TELEVISION

Autumn, apparently

*stops to breathe innn and outtt and innn and chillllll, Gillian, ffs*

I'm sorryyyyy, but I'm just so disappointed. This was the cutest set up! Imagine your all time OTP locked in a library. The fan fiction practically writes itself! You could read out loud to each other! Or make up a game with the books! A scavenger hunt! Harry Potter trivia. LITERALLY ANYTHING OTHER THAN WATCHING SCOOBY DOO ON THE LOUNGE TV AND THROWING FRISBEES AND MELTING WITH UTTER BLANDNESS UGHHHHH

And holy hell almighty, did I LOATHE the Jeff/coma plot that suddenly INVADED MY NICE COZY LIBRARY ROMANCE. Hate, double hate, loathe entirely. That wasn't the book I signed up for. It felt like this serious introspect-y YA contemp invaded my fluff-party and it just really didn't work. I hate coma plotlines 9 times out of 10 anyway, but it just never bought the feelings here. It was all so blahhhhhhh. I felt nothing! I couldn't wait for it to end, which is NEVER how I feel reading a Kasie West book. WHAT HAPPENED, UNIVERSE, I DEMAND RECOMPENSE

Forever in mourning for the adorable library romance this could have been.


  1. That's so funny, I just saw someone else's review for this book as well, saying similar things to what you are: cardboard characterizations, unrealistic plot points, and, of course, tragic lack of actual library moments! Guess I'll pass this one up for a better one of her novels. :) Great review!


  2. I'm so sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this - it sounded like it had so much potential! ALSO, HOW COULD THEY NOT READ WHILST BEING STUCK IN A LIBRARY?? HOW??

    1. It literally NEVER occurs to the heroine. She spends a lot of time thinking about how bored she is but never ONCE EVEN CONSIDERS IDK OPENING A BOOK

  3. This is so sadddddd :( Crossing my fingers that Lucky in Love is better. Her books are hit or slight miss for me usually but this sounds like a big miss, especially considering that amazing premise!!! Deepest levels of betrayal...

    1. I have high hopes for Lucky in Love (POC love interest!!!) but yeah i dont know what happened here :(


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