This book started out good and pretty cute, as Scotty develops a huge hero-worshipping crush on Vincent, the misunderstood "scary" guy on campus. Scotty's being bullied and Vincent is the only person to stand up for him (except he's not) and scare the big mean bully away. The getting to know you parts were sweet and filled with puppy crush cuteness. But then everything quickly got bogged down in teen melodrama and one ridiculous movie-at-eleven scenario after another. It was like Nick at Night on crack or something. It just got weird and completely unbelievable.
I'll try to keep this simple.
- Olive - Scotty's BFF is her own woman. She's not going to be swayed by teen lust. She's head girl, darn it, and she's getting things done.
- Alexis Mae - She gets some really great character development which was a little unexpected considering how cliched she was written for the first half of the book.
- Scotty's mum - We don't get to see her much, but she's super supportive of her son in every way, as a mom should be
- Young love - Like I said, the first third of this book is pretty sweet
- The RPG group - I wish we had seen more of them! One scene highlight Scotty's nerdiness is just not enough.
- The bullying story arc - This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's not a dislike for the obvious reasons. I actually liked how this was being handled while Scotty was being bullied by his super-in-the-closet ex-boyfriend Taylor. But at some point, everyone starts to buy into Taylor's "my dad made me do it" excuses and Taylor doesn't do anything to redeem himself except feel super duper bad about his lot in life. Oh, cry me a river. I mean, I'm glad Scotty found it in him to forgive Taylor after all that abuse and terror, but the whole "let's be friends" thing just felt weird and apologist to me. This isn't The Red Sheet-level of bully apologist so I guess it could've been worse.
- The big misunderstanding - Scott lies a lot in this book, and while he thinks he has a good excuse for it, he's also lying to himself about it. Which is understandable. He's ashamed of his former relationship with Taylor and wants to pretend it never happened. I think we've all be in situations like that. However, when Olive and Vincent finally find out about his lies, he expects them to forgive him almost immediately. Um, no honey. You're not owed forgiveness either just cause you feel really bad about it. So shut up your face and give your friends time to come around on their own.
- Actually, Scotty in general got on my nerves a lot in the second half of this book. There's this scene where he calls out the school administrator/principal/head mistress/whatever her title is about the special treatment Taylor gets for being a star athlete and his dad being super loaded, yet they do nothing about his bullying. Um...how can they when you don't tell them about it? And even in that scene, he still back pedals and changes the subject and still doesn't tell them about it. Scotty has a bit of a special snowflake complex going on.
- Nick-at-Nite on crack - This is the worst. I wasn't in the in-crowd in high school. I was a band geek. I knew who the popular kids were, at least some of them, by name and sight but that was all. My school was pretty large, over 2000 kids, and you didn't even know all the kids in your own grade, which in my high school was 9-12 grades. So the whole rumor mill thing and the "OMG there go Scotty and Vincent aren't they so cute" thing was just eye roll inducing. Does this actually happen in any school ever? It's such a TV drama thing. As is the photograph thing, and don't even get me started on these idiots' inability to open their phones and call the cops when students are being choked half to death in plain sight. Like, really? Where are the teachers in this school? And what school in their right mind lets students decide if another student should be punished for hitting them? That should have at least gotten him detention. There was just a lot of non-sensical cray-cray going on in this book.
- The editing - Love your commas. Embrace your commas. Use your commas. Most of the time, the implied comma was easy to figure out, but there were one or two sentences that could be read in entirely different ways if that comma wasn't meant to be there. To use an old comic strip example, there's a big difference between, "I would never all you stupid," and "I would never call you, stupid." Sometimes, you really need that comma. There's also the whole "my Mum" and "his Dad" thing that drove me bonkers, and I could not find anyone among my British friends and acquaintances to confirm that this was a regional thing. The use of all-caps instead of italics was part and parcel for the teen drama, I guess.