Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own and receiving a copy of the book did not impact my views.
Release Date: October 9th, 2018
Dates Read: August 16th, 2018 – August 16th, 2018
Trigger Warnings: a homophobic scene on a train which escalates to threats, cheating, ignorant comments about race (called out), panic attacks
Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance, LGBT+
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
R E V I E W
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed in What If It’s Us. I didn’t expect a lot from this book and it still managed to disappoint me and drive me to a breaking point. I am a fan of Adam Silvera’s books but Becky Albertalli books have never been for me. Combining two authors in which I have such differing opinions on was really interesting for me to jump in to, I was expecting for this to not be my favourite but I wasn’t expecting to not enjoy it as much as I did. What If It’s Us is a book that plays of miscommunication and jealousy to form chemistry throughout the book. I don’t like either of these tropes. What If It’s Us also relies heavily on pop culture references to push forward the story, in a way that feels as if they’re being shoved down your throat. I truly feel sorry for anyone who isn’t a fan of the musical Hamilton that tries to pick this book up.
What If It’s Us follows two teenage boys in New York. They both come from extremely different backgrounds and have an extremely different romantic history. Hell, the pair meet in a post office when Ben is sending a box of things his ex got him back to his ex.
Arthur is from Georgia, he has two best friends, Jewish and is in New York for the summer to intern at a law firm that his mum works at. Arthur is full of jealousy. The guy gets jealous over everything. Another male could blink at Ben and I think that Arthur would full over as he reached for assumptions. Arthur truly had no personality throughout this novel. He completely and utter is happy to follow Ben around. His personality stems from liking musicals, which is truly the extent of it all. Oh, and that he liked Instagram. That quickly ebbed out of the story though as Ben came more into play. Arthur truly lost his personality and struggles.
I feel we get to know Ben more throughout the story. Ben grew up in New York and is Puerto Rican. There are some interesting discussions about race and how Ben is white passing. However, throughout the book, it is clear that Ben is not over his ex-boyfriend, Hudson. No matter how the authors tried to play it. It was so clear that Ben was still into Hudson, no matter how much they tried to force Arthur as the love interest. Ben is cagey and embarrassed about going to summer school, but he at least has some character development through the book. Which I was thankful for because this story truly feels like it comes to a standstill.
There are a couple things I liked about this book. However, they can usually be contradicted with something I didn’t like. Which is unfortunate, but I guess I’ll get started.
I guess I liked the fact that the characters text in full words. It was nice to see that the text language in this book read like actual teenagers. That’s all I have for this point.
Both Ben and Arthur’s families are incredibly supportive of their sons being gay. There are no homophobic comments being made by either parent and they actually get together for a dinner, which was nice to see. Both parents just support their sons a lot, which was truly great, I feel there aren’t enough supportive parents in YA fiction. However, this book had disappearing parents. Whenever something important was playing into the story the parents were suddenly gone. They also let their kids out at all hours of the night that seemed confusing to me. I know it’s New York, but bad things happen there and I don’t think I’d want my kid walking around the streets late at night.
The other thing I liked about this book was that it was sex-positive and promoted safe sex. I know it’s not that big of a deal, but it is always nice to see that combo in a YA book. I don’t really have a negative to back up this claim. This was basically the only other thing I did like about this book though, which is unfortunate.
To start off, the two authors writing a story together can always end up messy. The characters voices may get lost or they may simply not work together. I feel that with What If It’s Us. This book lacked that BAM that the authors needed in their execution. It was truly lacking in spark and flare. It was as if combining the authors made them lose the spark from their solo books that I hear everyone talk about.
Have you ever read a book where there is zero chemistry? What If It’s Us is the book to pick up if you haven’t but are curious. Obviously, I’ve only read the eARC, but oh boy. Ben and Arthur straight up have no chemistry, hell on their first date Ben spends the whole time thinking about Hudson. If that wasn’t bad enough, the pairs best friends also have their own relationships going. Ben’s best friend with a girl from a coffee shop and Arthur’s two best friends getting together. We all come together at one stage of the book and the story feels…stagnant for lack of better word. The characters have no spark by themselves let alone with a romantic love interest.
If you don’t like excessive pop culture references playing into your books, avoid this one. Hamilton is a major plot point throughout this book. They discuss the musical in depth and Arthur thinks of Lin Manuel-Miranda so many times. It just wasn’t interesting. It was wasted page space and this book was already longer than it should be. I am a massive Hamilton fan too. I made all my friends listen to it and I even rapped it while drunk at a party, but I didn’t talk about it this extensively. This book made me hate Hamilton. Also, were Becky and Adam sponsored by Lyft? This book mentioned Lyft so much that it was literally strange. I don’t get why it had always had to be ‘I’m calling a Lyft’ like okay? Just say you’re calling a ride?
Finally, the romance in this book is whirlwind as hell. The characters have been seeing each other for two months and they said ‘I love you’, yikes. Not only that but the whole plotline and basis of their relationship stems from jealousy and miscommunication. I have never been more frustrated than I was reading What If It’s Us. Ben is the master of keeping secrets or simply withholding information and Arthur is the master at jumping to conclusions and getting angry. Honestly, it was exhausting to see Arthur get mad because Ben had been late. I just wanted to scream at them to break up and end the story. Obviously, that didn’t happen because there are 400 pages of this book and I like to torture myself. The miscommunications in this book were annoying as well. I just can’t. Arthur had no reason to leap so hard for the conclusions he did and I really don’t get why Ben withheld so much damn information. In real life, and in this book actually, this couple would be extremely toxic. They both seemed incredibly clingy, as did their friends, in a way that still makes me a little uncomfortable and it’s been 12 hours since I finished the book.
Overall, no way do I recommend What If It’s Us. I enjoyed some elements of the book and the fact it was diverse is great. However, that doesn’t mean that this book was perfect and is above criticisms. I’m interested to see other peoples opinions once this book does release and I do feel it will be loved by many. I just can’t, in good faith, recommend it when the story is weak and the characters bland. I truly hope another edit happens for this book because it needs it.
Happy reading everyone!
If you use my Book Depository link I will receive a 5% commission from your order at no expense to you. I would sincerely be grateful if you chose to use it.
The same goes for my Booktopia link, which is a great service for Aus and NZ residents.
*links used in this review are affiliate links*