Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols + Book QnA!

Cute, available, and one cabin over.

Lori lives for summertime on the lake. She spends all season wakeboarding, swimming, and hanging with her friends -- including the two hotties in the house next door. With the Vader brothers, Lori's always been one of the guys.

But while Lori and the "baby" brother, Adam, are inseparable friends, she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy. This year Sean's been paying Lori a lot of attention, and not in a brotherly way.

But just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material, she realizes that her role as girl friend to Adam may be even more important. And by trying so hard for the perfect summer romance, she could be going way overboard....

Grade: 9/10 - Dog-Eared All Over

Memorable Quotes:
""[...] This place is getting to be like that awful girls' show, what's it called? The chicks in my dorm call dibs on the TV in the rec center and won't let us watch basketball."
"Laguna Beach?"
"Get out of my room."" (Page 257)
""[...] Can you put your hands on my crotch?"
"Why, hell no, I cannot." I didn't remember anything like this happening in Pride and Prejudice." (Page 272)

** These have been chopped up a bit (where indicated [...]) so as not to give any spoilers. **

Review Tiiiiiime!
I won't be reviewing Major Crush here, because the Bitches have done a great job of reviewing it over here. And we all know that what the Bitches say is binding law.

Jennifer Echols is a package deal. Her voice is uncanny, her sense of humor is wicked, her character development is well-shaped and elaborate, and her plots are heartfelt. She revolutionized my ideal and concept of a feel-good romance novel with Major Crush, and if at all possible, even more so with The Boys Next Door.

Lori McGillicuddy, throughout the book, strives to change herself to what she thinks is a more desirable feminine personality. You know the type. Girly, cares insanely about her appearance, squealy-squeals, etc. She thinks this is the way to attract Sean, who's been the object of her affections for as long as she can remember. Everything is going according to plan until Sean pulls a fast one with Adam's girlfriend, Rachel, and then everyone's plans take a one-eighty. The plot thickens as more complex and intricate scheming take place, each character with their own ulterior motives for their actions. But a lie can only go undetected for so long before it catches up to you, right?

Anyone who's ever felt insecure can relate to this novel. The characters' feelings and motivations ring twelve kinds of true. Lori wants to be accepted, but can't seem to, being the tomboy that she is. She explains to Adam that when you're little, being a tomboy is fun, but when you grow up, people don't know what to do with you. So they exclude you. Adam wants to make his own identity, to not have Sean constantly overshadowing him. It's tough because not only is he the spitting image of Sean, but Sean's always taking what's his and being a class-A bastard to Adam. Sean, in turn, wants something Adam has: meaning in his relationships. He's seen as something of a player and wants to be taken seriously by a girl.

These wants and needs drive them to commit many mistakes, some of which hurt other people and some of which hurt themselves. In the end, though, you understand. You understand these characters. You get to know them. You care about them. I know I, for one, felt for them, laughed along with them, and gripped the book during the parts I wish hadn't happened. But most of all, I marveled at how dead-on Jenn's novel is in regards to how we teens are nowadays.

I loved Major Crush; I love this book so much more. I cannot wait for Jenn's next novel, Running to Stand Still, and her next Ro-Com, The Ex-Games. I highly recommend her novels--she's an author to check out.

Hope you enjoy the Book QnA section below! Beware that there are unmarked spoilers!

We also have an upcoming interview with Jenn, so stay tuned!

Book QnA (with Jenn!):

Q: Were you anything like Lori when you were her age?
A: Lori is not me, but she comes really, really close.

Q: Are the Vader brothers based on guys you know in real life?
A: No, they're fiction, unfortunately.
(RX says... And this would be where we lose all hope in humanity.)

Q: We had a lot of schemes of love in this book. Eventually, they all got solved accordingly... well, for the most part. Do you think Rachel is pleased with the brother she got?
A: The publisher wants all these books to be stand-alone novels with no sequels from now on. I've asked to write sequels to both books and the publisher has said no. But if I were to write a sequel to TBND, I might write it about Rachel and Sean. Sean has issues. The easy thing to do in a sequel would be to make him the villain again as Rachel finds a new boy to be her hero. But it would be real challenge to write about Sean growing up and transforming into a hero himself, and I love a challenge.

Q: About Lori and Cameron: do you think they'll ever get past that weirdness from all those years ago? Lori will always remember.
A: Knowing Cameron, he's already forgotten and Lori just can't tell.

Q: The Bryozoa thing: true story?
A: Absolutely. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

Q: We here at Reviewer X's site blog some kickin' kiss scenes. In both this and Major Crush, you really deliver. What inspires you to be so thorough?
A: The books lead up to those scenes. They're extremely important to the plot and the characters, and I didn't want to skimp on them. Also, I'm writing the book I want to read. When a book leads up to a scene like that and then abruptly skips it and jumps to the next scene, I feel cheated!

Q: Are you planning on writing any more books for the Romantic Comedies line?
A: My next Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy will be out in Fall 2009. The Ex-Games is about a snowboarder who challenges her ex-boyfriend to a battle of the sexes on the slopes.


Jennifer Echols said...

Sweeeeeet! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, and I really appreciate that you're letting other people know. Thank you!

Chelsea said...

I've been wanting to read this! Glad you liked it.

Amee said...

OOh, I'm definitely going to add her books to my wishlist. They sound awesome. I love the P&P quote. ;)

Rachael Stein said...

ooh, i loved this book, it was so cute!!1

Anna said...

I LOVED this book! The Simon Romantic Comedies are wonderful. :D


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