So, this is where the novel begins. Enthralled yet? Caden is the "protagonist" of this novel; although, when you meet him he has no name. He is the 'nice guy' selected for the LIC's latest assignment. He must win the heart of a future scientist, Juliet, and hope that she falls in love and stays in love with him in high school. The only problem, he falls in love with his competition, Dylan (Dyl), the 'bad boy'.
It is a roller coaster ride of a book, and a quick read. I honestly could not put it down. I loved all the nods to other young adult novels and films. I also enjoyed that the novel mocked the genre, made fun of itself, and often times broke the fourth wall. Several times characters talk about being the protagonist/hero of the story. I laughed a lot and generally cheered for and routed for Caden and Dyl. Sure, both characters would be a bit unbelievable at times, with lines that made you gag; but remember, this is on purpose. They have been programmed to be a 'nice guy' and a 'bad boy', with all the clichés that come with those stereotypes. They even have a coach feeding them lines and setting up moments like a movie.
The moments of honesty in the novel cling to the reader long after you put the book down. Especially the moments when Caden is most truthful with himself about his homosexuality, what sexuality means, and how silly it all sometimes seems. Why do people assume, why should it matter, whose right is it to know and judge, why is someone else's consensual love for another so important to other people? This book hits the nail on the head several times, I was nodding enthusiastically and probably looked like a deranged bird while reading (thankfully I was at home).
Even the ending, no spoilers, was heartfelt and realistic. Caden is right, nothing is set in stone. No matter how happy we are in a moment, there are always dark moments lurking. There really is no truly happy ever after, not in reality.
Juliet was bad-ass; have I said that enough about female characters in my reads lately? I love me a woman who pushes past expectations and becomes the real hero. Books that squash gender norms and sexual stereotypes really appeal to me, and give me hope for a future in this world that is kind of insane and scary right now. We need more Cadens, Dyls, Juliets, Natalies and Trevors. We need normal people to become superheroes, because we all need to save ourselves.
I have to add this book to my library; and, I am so glad I requested our public library purchase a copy, so more people can read it and laugh, and think, and love.