I’d been so excited to read Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ever since I read the blurb and after researching what my fellow online bookworms thought. The majority loved it and I was eager to find out what all the hype was over.
However, having read it now, I don’t know how I feel about this one. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but I was slightly disappointed.
What is it with books recently that have an awesome synopsis, but are just a total let down?
Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she’s ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIKE SOMEONE SO MUCH YOU CAN’T STAND IT AND KNOW THAT THEY’LL NEVER FEEL THE SAME WAY?”
I’ll start with the good. Peter Kavinsky.
I don’t know what it is about smug kind-of-asshole characters, but I’m a sucker for them and Peter was no exception. I actually liked him and Lara Jean and really rooted for them.
Lara Jean reminded me a lot of myself and not just because we’re both Asian, but I did like how the central character was Asian without being over stereotyped. Thank you, Jenny Han.
Now, much like our main character, I used to write unsent love letters to boys I was crushing on. However, mine were painfully cringeworthy and nothing as insightful as Lara Jean’s and I definitely didn’t manage to bag a Peter Kavinsky out of all of that.
I was confused as to what target audience that this book was meant to be appealing to. The narrative voice for me was immature especially earlier on in the novel which made it quite hard for me to get into. Basically Lara Jean sounded like someone who’d just entered comprehensive from primary rather than someone mid way through it due to the childish, immature narrative. Once I got over that the story itself was decent and if not sweet at some moments. Made increasingly better by Peter Kavinsky, of course.
Each character has their witty, humorous one liners that make you chuckle, but some of the sub characters were just…lame. There was nothing special to them to make me care for them. Kitty, while sassy and funny, was all over the place and I didn’t care for Josh and Margot because they just down right annoyed me with their on again-off again relationship. Seriously, can he please decide which Song sister he loves?
There’s the theme of family and the unique, unbreakable and unconditional bond that they have. The Song sisters are well written in that aspect. There a bunch of flaws in this novel, but I’ll probably pick up the second one in the series sometime in the year just to find out what happens to Lara Jean and Peter.
While I enjoyed the whole Faux Beau thing Lara and Peter have going on, I was hoping for some real romance by the end but naturally, it leaves you with no real conclusion on what is supposed to be a cliffhanger. If I loved the book the way everyone else seemed to have then maybe I would’ve laughed at all frustration of not knowing what happens with Lara Jean and Peter. However, having found the book subpar, it just made me scream into my pillow with fury.
Sometimes it felt like a good coming of age YA book and other times it felt like a kiddie book. It was the inconsistent narration that really ruined the potential.