A friend shared this book trailer a while back and it was so engaging and fun that I immediately wanted to read the book. A few clicks later I'd requested the galley from NetGalley and was eagerly anticipating reading it.
It was delightfully fun, just like the trailer. Amused by the clever and not too sensitive banter the characters engaged in on a regular basis I laughed out loud and wrapped up my reading sessions with a feeling of having had a good time. As I went along though several things began to nag at me and it only got worse. One was that Sam and Ally's main focus seemed to be on "who's in charge". They put a lot of energy into having the last word, coming out on top, controlling the situation. It seemed to be almost a competition both with each other and whatever other partners they found themselves with. Another thing I couldn't get over is that while the story is supposed to be about two best friends falling in love what I saw on the pages is them falling in lust. It was all about sex with those two, and with every other character in the book for that matter. I understand teenage hormones and our not-so-demure society, but this tendency for everybody to barely make it to the bedroom made the whole thing seem terribly shallow, which combined with the dominant agenda I talked about earlier resulted in the kind of message I wouldn't want to be sending to teen and pre-teen readers.
It wasn't all questionable though. For example I really enjoyed Ally's journey to realizing her full potential as a young woman while remaining true to herself and Sam's transformation from a womanizer to a guy capable of making a commitment and sticking to it. I think the scene where Sam had an epiphany as to what kind of life he was building for himself was the strongest one in the book, closely followed by the scene where Ally sheds her assumed persona but sees that she can't go back to being exactly who she was before Sam worked his magic on her. The quirky secondary characters presented a cute backdrop for their changing relationship, although for the life of me I couldn't tell apart the diner guys.
The book is told by the two main characters and while at first the author seemed to struggle with Ally's voice she soon found her stride and it became just as alive as Sam's. The character voices were actually what I enjoyed most about the book, they fit the characters and evolved with every new change in Sam and Ally's world views.
I think that Ms. Darling has talent and potential, and had I not found the characters' focus questionable throughout the book I would've enjoyed this fun bit of light reading a lot more. As it is, if you're looking for an undemanding book that would give you a reason to laugh you've got one right here.