Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Katie Van Ark
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Maddy and Gabe have been figure-skating partners since they were little. Maddy is head-over-heels in love with Gabe, but Gabe is dating other girls—many other girls. When their skating coach gives them a skate program to Romeo and Juliet and tells them to ramp up the romance, Maddy is hopeful that this will lead them to finally becoming a real-life couple. However, Gabe is afraid of ruining their skating partnership and insists that they should remain friends, even though he secretly has feelings for her. Determined to make it to the World Championships, and maybe even the Olympics, Maddy and Gabe take their romantic practice off the ice, and finally they begin to date. Despite their mutual feelings, Gabe stubbornly refuses to tell anyone about their relationship. However, after many ups and downs, arguments and make-ups, Gabe is finally able to admit that he is in love. The pair make it to the World Championships and win by a landslide.
The Boy Next Door is narrated by both Maddy and Gabe. Their tones and voices are very different, so it is easy for the reader to differentiate between the two. However, readers will find it hard to connect to the characters. Gabe is a whiny, shallow, inconsiderate, and insecure teenager who only thinks about sex and has a fear of commitment and deep feelings. Maddy is also a whiny, shallow, and insecure teenager who has abysmal taste in boys and constantly throws herself into situations where she knows she will end up hurt. Both are privileged but unappreciative kids, so it is hard to feel any compassion for their perceived problems. The romance is frustrating and unnecessarily dramatic and makes the reader start to hate both characters, especially Gabe, who treats Maddy like a doormat and refuses to acknowledge his true feelings. The ending is very cheesy and unsatisfying, with a resolution that doesn’t seem to resolve anything. The relationship at the end is supposed to make the reader happy, but instead it leaves feelings of frustration and anger at having wasted so much time reading this book.
*Contains moderate language and moderate sexual content.