Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Hello everyone, and welcome back to…not Weekly Reads!

So I’ve been thinking for a while about changing up my posting schedule/format at dictura reads. Weekly Reads is fun, but definitely not the fast-paced round-up I initially intended it to be, and I know it’s better to have more frequent, less novel-length posts.

I’m not sure how my post frequency might change yet, so I’ll keep you updated on that! (Or you’ll just see more posts sometime soon. Either way.) And maybe I can do a monthly reads actually quick round-up to make up for the loss of Weekly Reads, or something like that. Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas!

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on with the review!

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately

Before I start, may I just say that this is one of those cases where the UK cover is infinitely superior to the North American one. In this case, it’s because the US cover portrays a thing that is not in the book.

Alex, Approximately

It’s been a few days, but I do not remember there being a single pool in this book, nor do the main characters ever lounge on inflatable furniture in one and share chips. I get it, I get it, it’s an aesthetic. But so is the first cover and it portrays Bailey’s Vespa with the leopard-print seat. Which is actually in the book! But I digress. (I’m sure there’s more than one post in me about US vs. UK covers, but today is not that day.)

Alex, Approximately is a modern retelling of You’ve Got Mail in the form of a contemporary YA summer romance set in California, or at least it’s pitched that way. In reality, the leads really don’t spend that much time hating each other, and they also stop corresponding so much during the events of the book, so it’s really just…about two people who talk online, then one moves to the town where she knows her online love interests lives without asking him to meet, and she meets a guy, and…you get the gist. Bonus: surfing, Vespas, and churros.

I’m not really sure what to think of this book. On one hand, the romance writing is quite cute, I do enjoy the movie reference quotes at the beginning of each chapter, there are great California setting vibes, and the two main characters actually have some traumatic events in their pasts that they’re both getting over, so there’s some weight to this narrative and some stakes as these two open up to one another. (Also, it’s nice to see a dreamy person of colour male love interest, since those are still few and far between.)

But on the other hand, the premise of the book pre-spoils what’s going on for readers, so it becomes this weird slog waiting for the characters to find out? I mean, the original You’ve Got Mail worked in the same way, but that was a movie from both perspectives. The cool thing about a book from one perspective is that it could have not immediately told us its ending. But I guess that’s fine.

…But again, it also feels like it doesn’t really matter that much, because the online correspondence peters out really quickly and almost thoroughly? So when the characters do find out, it feels like it should just be a “huh” moment rather than a climactic thing.

And more: because we don’t get much of the online correspondence, it’s hard to be invested in the relationship “Mink” and “Alex” have as opposed to Bailey and her IRL love interest, Porter. And/or it’s hard to care that oh wow they are the same people because the book gives us many reasons to ship Bailey/Porter, but no real reasons to ship Mink/Alex other than that they both like movies and each other.

I don’t know, Alex, Approximately. I think either there should’ve been more development to the Mink/Alex story or it could’ve just lifted right out to be…a regular summer romance. Although I guess then this book would’ve had to manufacture a new romantic comedy “misunderstanding” for the couple to get over? I have faith it would have, though. It also would have had more time to develop characters like the New Best Friend and the Nice Dad so that would’ve been cool, too. (The other characters in this one are pretty one-dimensional.)

In the end, though, if you’re looking for a quick, sweet summer read with a bit more substance to its cuteness, you’ll probably still like this. Flaws aside, it was pretty fun.

Overall:


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Have a lovely bookish weekend!

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