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Monday, April 10, 2017

Release & Review - Don't Kiss the Messenger (Edgelake High School #1) by Katie Raye

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: Don't Kiss the Messenger
(Edgelake High School #1)
Author: Katie Ray
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 10th, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen (Crush)

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.

CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett isblindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.

Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett.CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl… 

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book involves one fiercely scarred girl who wants the new guy in town, the new guy who thinks he wants the new girl, and the new girl who really isn’t sure what she wants, and the misunderstanding that brings them all together. This modern Cyrano de Bergerac retelling will make you laugh, swoon, and fall in love.


Buy Links: Amazon

3.5 “Scars, Sports & Illusions” Stars

ARC via NetGalley.

Thank you, Entangled Teen (Crush).

I'm still not sure how to rate this book, to be completely honest. While the main character took me on an emotional ride, giving me all the feels, I had problems with how the romance was portrayed here among other things.

Don't Kiss the Messenger didn't go at all as I expected. I've read my fair share of Entangled Crush books to expect sweet and cute stories with popular tropes (like the "falling in love with someone while thinking they're someone else" one). I didn't get sweet and cute from this book, though. This isn't exactly a critique, since I'm all in for angsty, smart and mature love stories, but getting that when I was expecting something else threw me off for a while.

This is a book about mature teenagers with a smart language and lots of references to literature and classic music--this last subjectisn't something I'm particularly familiar with, but I still enjoyed how it added layers to the story. You know when sometimes you read something and you feel like the characters and writer are way smarter than you? That's how I felt reading this. It isn't something that bothers me, because I'm always open to learning new things, but... again, it wasn't something I was expecting.

CeCe, the main and my favorite character, was a strong teenager with a rich backstory and a dry sense of humor that spoke to me. She was tough--and I LOVE though female characters. I love when they aren't afraid to show themselves as leaders and as someone with strong personalities. I don't know if CeCe was always that way, but after the car accident that left her with a scar taking over the entire left side of her face, she had to adapt and be tougher than those bullying her.

I high-fived her every time she stood up for herself. She had some "Ella Harper" (from Paper Princess) moments, and I LOVE myself some of that. 

CeCe's journey made me laugh, root for her, want to slap her so she got her mind and actions straight, and even made me a little emotional toward the end. Despite disagreeing with how far she took things as the "fake Bryn", I still connected with her enough to want to follow her journey and get all the feels while I did it.

But while CeCe won me over, Emmet and Bryn, the two other major players in this story, didn't.

My problem with Bryn's storyline was more related to how people treated her (including the author) than with the girl herself. Look, I'm a bit tired of how people tend ot make girls who are into fashion, celebrities and hot boys into the dumb ones. Sure Bryn didn't show a lot of deapth, but I'm blaming that entired on how the author wanted to portray her. Being into celebrities and fashion doesn't necessarily mean that's all you're into, and it doesn't make you unable to have conversations about other things. I thought the way Bryn was written was unrealistic, stereotypical and damaging. Not to say unecessary. The author could've easily kept her as someone smart enough to have a conversation that didn't involve the words "hot" and "hair" and "make out" and still make her the wrong match for Emmet. There was no need to label her the "dumb girl".

CeCe's reactions to Bryn were some of the opportunities when she got on my nerves. She could be so condesceding at times. I think she really cared for Bryn and was initially trying to help her, but I wasn't okay with how she was basically rolling her eyes every time Bryn spoke. It felt too close to slut-shaming (which is something I'm finding myself less and less tolerant with, especially in YA)...except it was like dumb-shaming, or something in that sense.

Emmet, for his turn, didn't get the chance to dumb-shame Bryn, but that's only because he never got to know the real girl. He was too busy staring at her or making out with her to realize she wasn't exactly who she thought he was. I mean, come on, it was pretty obvious. Whenever he talked with CeCe, she spoke like the girl who emailed and texted her, but it never even crossed his mind that she was the one behind the e-messages he was getting from "Bryn". Really? I think CeCe's conclusion toward the end was spot on: Emmet was too busy wanting everything--the perfect face and the perfect brain in the same girl--to even consider anything else.

Emmet wasn't a bad character. I liked how smart he was. How he balanced his love for music with his love for football. How he never thought of CeCe as "the girl with the scar". He had some good things going for him, but the fact that he remained clueless for so long irritated me.

That and watching Bryn and Emmet get together. I mean, I was disappointed at the romance development here. I didn't pick this book up so I could read about Emmet and Bryn making out. I knew it was a possibility from the blurb, but I expected Emmet and CeCe to do some making out of their own, since this was supposed to be their love story. It took way too long to get to that, which made the whole romance aspect of the story (which was supposed to be the main aspect of the story) lacking.

Having said all of that, I can't say I disliked the book. It wasn't what I expected, but it still kept me reading. I liked how smart it was, how developed CeCe was as a character and how different the setting was. I was initially confused at the whole live-on-campus high school system, but I can see a lot of promise there for future books in the series. I only thought it was a bit strange to have all those high school students living in dorms without any supervision, since I'm assuming most of them were underage. Is that common? *shrugs*

Overall, I think this book deserves a mostly positive rating because of CeCe and her journey.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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