My Life Next Door came to my doorstep with a fair amount of hype. *eyes Judith, Cassie* So when the time came and I was eagerly looking for a contemporary romance to lift my spirits, I knew where to turn to. While the beginning was exactly what I was looking for, it quickly petered off, and at the end of the day, due to the high expectations, I was kind of let down.
As a contemporary romance, My Life Next Door delivers on the adorability factor. Sam and Jase are definitely cute together. Jase is just about everything you want in a young adult love interest: he's hot, entirely selfless, strong but caring, and just an all around "good guy". So when Sam and Jase start to fall for each other, I was so pleased. I enjoyed every single minute. ("You have to kiss me." - MELTING.) And I thought, this is all I could ask for. But! That was only about the first half of the book.
And here's the problem with me and contemporary romance: I tend to get bored when the "build up" to a relationship ends and the relationship begins. I mean, they were still cute together, but it bordered on too sappy for me. And since the relationship was not complicated at all (at that point) I started to get a bit bored. (I'm so sorry, MLND fans!) It didn't help that I developed such a violent hatred towards Sam's mother that I either wanted to kill her or chuck my e-reader across the room. I mean, I understand parental frustrations and that that was a crucial point and part of the story, but it bordered on too much for me. And I just couldn't understand that Sam could take so much crap from her mother without saying anything. (Her mother is seriously INSANE - and one of the worst parents I have ever encountered in YA.) It almost made me lose all respect for her. On the other hand, I loved reading about the family dynamics in the Garrett family, and I liked the contrast. (George was adorable.)
Though my interest had waned, at two thirds of the novel, there was a pretty massive plot twist which kept me reading. The question of loyalty between family and the one you love truly sparkled and was interesting to think about - questions of right and wrong, and so forth. But was it everything I was hoping for? No. I dunno. Halfway through the novel, MLND had lost me, and it never really won me back.
In terms of characters, Jase was so static and though I really liked him at the start, the lack of character development remained an issue with me. Sam as a character hovered between slightly liking and being completely frustrated at her inaction. Tim may have been the most interesting character of all, and I definitely had massive amount of respect for him at the end. I am perhaps most disappointed that the situation with Nan was never resolved, which I just cannot understand. And, of course, even at the end, I had a violent hatred towards Sam's mother.
Finally, the last chapter left a bunch of unanswered questions. It's of course not always necessary that the ending is clearly spelled out to a T for you in every novel, but the way My Life Next Door hinted at upcoming resolutions and changes and then did not show the follow through? It just annoyed me.
I wanted to like My Life Next Door, and I did. But I set out to completely fall head over heels for it like my friends, and sadly it fell a bit flat. It may be mostly a case of too-high-expectations, but this is the truth. I loved the first half, and the Garrett family, but at a certain point, the story kind of lost me. The build up was too fast, the story and characters lacked true complexity to a certain extent... I had my fair share of annoyances, and the cuteness of the romance could not really make up for those. So this is a cute romance when you're in need of cheering up, or at the beach, or something like that.
But after Kody Keplinger, I guess I just expect a bit more from my contemporary romances. I've been spoiled by KK's original and beautifully realistic storylines, and I am intensely tired of the bitchy best friend and the absentee/horrible parents. Not to say this is bad - I still enjoyed it. It's just not the best.