How To Keep A Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: ARC e-book
From the title I thought this was going to be a little silly, but it sounded like the Australian version of Kisses For Lula by Samantha Mackintosh – one of my favourite duologies! And I’ve come to the conclusion that I would’ve probably liked this a lot more when I was 14 and was oblivious to things like the Bechdel Test.
Aurora Skye is 16 and never been kissed (the same predicament Lula was in) except it’s completely by choice. Aurora is saving up her first kiss for True Love™ because she’s been brought up on Disney movies and believes kisses to be sacred. And I completely agree! Why should you give up your precious kisses to boys that aren’t going to treat you how you deserve to be treated? Aurora, and her group of four friends (Jelena, Cassidy, Sara and Lindsey), are on a mission to find Prince Charming, and there are more than a few candidates looking to take Aurora’s first kiss. Then Aurora gets swept up into her school’s production of Much Ado About Nothing and you’ll never guess who’s playing Benedick along side her…
The first thing I have to say about this is: PREDICTABLE. If you’re even remotely familiar with the storyline of MAAN (and hopefully you all are because you’ve watched the incredible web series adaptation Nothing Much To Do *eyebrow raise* eh? eh?) then you can guess Aurora will end up with whoever is the Ben to her Bea. Also there are a few side-plots like Cassidy trying to get together with new boy Scott. And there’s some miscommunication because he’s a sculptor and during an art lesson fashions a woman’s figure and *heavy sarcasm warning* no boy has ever looked in detail at a naked woman’s body on the internet so it must be a study of a girl he knows IRL. Then there’s also the deal of her Dad’s relationship with her teacher, the issue of the secret admirer, and the missing cat. All super cliche.
Secondly: HETERONORMATIVITY. Not one of the couple in this book was gay. And that is not okay with me anymore. I know this book was originally published in 2013 when the cry for diversity wasn’t quite so loud, but to me that isn’t a good enough excuse. Five girls? One of them is definitely gay or somewhere on the bisexual/asexual scale!
Thirdly: Girls talking about boys like they’re things that can be moulded into something more to their liking. What is up with this? People aren’t perfect and they’re not your playthings. Also, girls talking about boys and nothing else. Period. I can’t remember one significant conversation that these girls had that wasn’t in some way related to boy drama or potential crushes. They’re 16, for goodness sake! Aren’t they taking any exams? Dealing with school stresses? This might just be a fluffy contemporary but I need a slice of cold hard reality on the side to make me appreciate any book. Even this Disney channel Original movie on paper.
I think my concerns largely outweigh the pros, but I still want to point out the one thing this book did well:
Aurora’s a likeable character. She can come of as thinking she’s better than everyone else and above high school drama but she’s actually incredibly conscientious and has extremely high levels of respect for herself. Making her pretty damn likeable. Her poetry isn’t great, but she’s a genuinely nice person.
Apparently there’s a sequel to this and the whole Lethal Kiss things that features in book two sounds very Lula-esque, so I’m not sure if I’m up for reading it. BUT if you don’t take this book too seriously then it’s pretty enjoyable, even if the love/hate characters pushed into playing lovers is something I’ve read in multiple fan fictions.
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