Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Won from Rather Be Reading- Thank you!
Julia has always dreamed of going to London, and her dream is coming true. She and twenty other members of the junior class get to spend nine blissful days in the birthplace of Jane Austen and William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, her dream becomes a little nightmarish when she gets paired with Jason. Jason is everything rule-abiding Julia is not, so how is it that she ends up trekking all over London with him in search of her secret admirer? And how is it they might actually be becoming friends?
A book set in London about a cute romance with a protagonist who loves Shakespeare- this should have been right up my alley, but it seems that Meant to Be and I were just not, well, meant to be.
I expected Julia to be a Type A overachiever, as the book jacket described. And she was, but to such an extent that her behaviors made her seem more like a caricature than a well-developed character. She is also often nastily judgmental. I understand that this is something of a Pride and Prejudice retelling, and thus Julia is supposed to have "prejudice" à la Elizabeth Bennet. But Julia is much pettier than Elizabeth ever is. (The thoughts she has about her teacher's clothing tastes border on cruel.) Julia does have her moments; she'd spend pages annoying me and then say one line that would make her a bit more endearing. (My personal favorite: "Although knowing me, I will probably get attacked by a wild goose or something. (I have goose-related issues. Don't judge me.)" I thought it was just me!) In fact, most of her character development is a bit choppy. For someone who is SO obsessed about rules, it's amazing that all it takes is five minutes of Jason's wheedling to get her to sneak away from a class trip and go to a party in a foreign country on the first night.
Jason is a bit problematic, as well. Overall, I liked him. He's pretty sweet and outgoing. But there were little things he did (lying about joining the mile-high club with Julia, sticking his gum on crates in a store for someone else to clean up), that are just plain rude, not funny or cute. There is one scene, though, involving Jason and one of my favorite Beatles songs that is simply awesome. (Because seriously, cute boy in London + Beatles = *amazing!*)
As for the plot, it was cute. Slightly predictable, and the parts that I didn't predict before I started the book I figured out very early on. Towards the end, it started to drag. There's a bit with a certain boy that could have been shortened. (It's obvious where it's headed anyways.) But the predictability doesn't actually bother me that much. I knew going in what to expect in that aspect. What really disappointed me was the lack of heart. This could have been so fun, but it just fell flat. The idea is there, but it isn't fully realized.
Okay, so I talked a lot about what I didn't like, but there is some stuff that did work. The setting was fantastic (I mean, it is London, after all). Harrods, Stratford-on-Avon, the Globe- all of these landmarks and many more are featured in MTB. This book certainly enforced how much I want to visit someday! The fact that Julia is a Shakespeare fan was another good part of this novel, as did her love of The Beatles.
Basically, I'm disappointed. Meant to Be could have been SO good, but it fell short. (Lauren Morrill seems awesome, too, so I'm double disappointed I didn't like this book. Perhaps I'll like her 2014 book. There's always hope.)
A Quote from the Book: "I need to fold down pages and flag passages with sticky notes. I need to experience books, not just read them. I never go anywhere without a book in my bag, and to travel across the ocean, I'd packed more than my fair share."
Did you like Meant to Be?