Final Draft by Riley Redgate | Review

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: June 12th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: death, car accident, grief, depression, anxiety, underage drinking, drugs

Pages: 272

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Genre: young adult, mental health, romance, contemporary, LGBT+

Goodreads blurb:

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.
 
At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

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Elise @ The Bookish Actress has Final Draft in her Twitter name, so obviously, it meant I had to pick it up. Elise is my #1 go to for f/f romance and she is yet to let me down. I’m not even sure how to begin describing Final Draft by Riley Redgate. Honestly, I am still mildly speechless and I finished the book yesterday (this review has been scheduled for a while, oops). Final Draft is a book that evokes so much emotion. The best way to describe it is that it is organic. It’s a strange word choice, but honestly, it fits so perfectly. This book has such a realistic look at life and teenage emotions. Riley Redgate doesn’t try to shove a perfect character at us. Instead, we have a flawed MC who struggles with her passion, writing. It is just so amazing (I really don’t have the right words for this) to see a character who isn’t perfect at everything and struggles. The character depth that the author manages to create throughout this pretty short novel also deserves to be noted.

Why should you read Final Draft though? Let’s get into the plot a little bit. This book follows a pansexual biracial Ecuadorian plus size with anxiety lead Laila. Laila is best described as a ‘good girl’. While all her friends are getting fake ID’s and sneaking into clubs at 18, taking drugs and simply living with a ‘who cares’ attitude Laila prefers to sit at home and write her story for her creative writing class. However, an unfortunate accident leaves her original teacher in the hospital (whom Laila loves) and brings in a best selling author to teach the students. Laila becomes obsessed with getting her approval and it leads to an honest look at a teenager experiencing things for the first time. There is also a bit of a romance sprinkled through the story as Laila discovers her sexuality, however, this definitely doesn’t feel as if it is the main focal point throughout this novel and that Riley Redgate chooses to focus on Laila’s teenage struggles a lot more.

Honestly, the plot is so beautifully woven and technical. I am truly struggling to find words in which will help describe it to its perfection. Final Draft does not feel as if it is one thing. It feels like several and they are all so beautifully done that I can’t help but scream at you to pick up this book.

Anyway, time to jump into my section of the review where I talk about what I did and didn’t like about the book.

what I liked

A MESSY AND BEAUTIFUL LOOK AT LIFE

I said it in my ramble bit of this review, but this book is so fucking organic. There is such a beautiful and raw look at life it is shocking. I remember three years ago when I graduated high school struggling with the possibility of all my friends moving away for university and struggling with the choice myself, as well as not receiving the marks I had hoped for. The way Riley Redgate writes Laila in Final Draft is so spot on for most 18-year-olds about to hit this transitional period of their life.

Not only that, but there is the underlying theme of trying to prove yourself. I completely related to that and Laila’s struggles of not ‘fitting’ in with her friends. While all her friends were drinking, doing drugs, and going illegally to clubs she wasn’t interested in that. I was that way inclined during my final year of high school and my friends all thought I was whacky because I didn’t see drinking as the highlight of the week. I really just feel as if the author managed to make these feelings so damn relatable.

SO. MUCH. CHARACTER. DEPTH.

This isn’t a long book. It doesn’t even hit 300 pages. Yet, the author was able to include so much character depth in the short amount of time. Not a single character reads as one-dimensional and I was completely enthralled by each and every character backstory.

ANXIETY REP WAS SO SPOT ON

I mentioned earlier just how much representation there is with Laila (pansexual, biracial, Ecuadorian, plus size, anxiety). I can’t speak on a lot of the representations in this book as someone who is white and straight. I can speak about the anxiety though and how it spoke to me throughout the book. The author manages to pull the empathy from you subtly throughout the story and truly is such a raw and realistic look at being an anxious teen in high school.

SUPPORTIVE FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Y’all know I love supportive friends and family, this is something that Final Draft delivered so fucking well. I can’t even begin to describe how (a common theme with this book) but it was something that was inspiring. The characters truly are all there for Laila during her hardest times and even though she rejects their help a lot of the time they don’t leave her and I think that is what YA books need.

Additionally, one of the friends ends up being the love interest and this may be spoilers but I don’t care that much. Because this was a beautiful f/f book that featured a Korean lesbian.

what I didn’t like

STORY FELT A LITTLE CLUNKY IN PLACES

This is only a really mild complaint, but I feel that in some places of Final Draft the story could have been revised. It really felt as if there were so many emotions in certain parts that the story got a little cluttered. At times it also felt as if the author lost her thread of the story and took a page or two to get back on track. However, this really isn’t as noticeable as I may think it is. I think I was just looking for something to write in this section of my review.

A DOG IS BRIEFLY MENTIONED BUT WE DONT GET MORE

This isn’t really a dislike. I just wanted to be lowkey funny. I just absolutely love when dogs are included in books and I feel that the dog in Final Draft didn’t get put in the spotlight enough.

Overall, read Final Draft. This book will break your heart and repair it simultaneously. I cried, I smiled, I gasped. It was a bloody whirlwind of emotions and I invite you to take it and tell me what you thought. This book was so in touch with teenagers and, just overall, emotion. I can’t scream about it enough.

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Have you read Final Draft? What are some of your favourite f/f romances? Tell me about them in the comments!

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Happy reading everyone!

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