Published by Scholastic on 25 February 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Place(s) Traveled To: South Lake, Wisconsin // Milwaukee, Wisconsin // Dingle, Ireland
First Line(s): Guys and girls can be friends.
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg is a young adult retelling/homage to the movie When Harry Met Sally. When you compare the two the story line is pretty faithful but as a result this also makes it pretty predictable. The little random interludes between each chapter where also a giveaway of what was to come as well and as such kind of took away from the story as a whole. Yes, as a reader, I know that most contemporary novels will end with character x and y getting together but its nice to see it all unfold as there is always that chance that the story will end up in a direction that you never quite expected and those you thought would end up together may not. These interludes though make it a foregone conclusion and so the relationships that happen in between you know are doomed even before they begin so its hard to get invested in them.
I did like how Better Off Friends was a multiple POV story. As I really like books with multiple points of view, however, I am so not a fan of random head jumping. That changing of POV just for the sake of convenience which is most found in adult romances and just drives me batty. For the most part Better Off Friends avoids this and each chapter swaps between Macallan and Levi and its all pretty structured. With the exception of the last but that last chapter almost gave me whiplash with changing POV every other line. Which on my kindle would have made this impossible to tell who was who as the formatting was just not there. Fortunately I also had the option to read this via my BlueFire app and so there was a noticeable difference in the font for Macallan (bold) and that of Levi.
Better Off Friends was a quick read and I am sure that its one that will appease both Elizabeth Eulberg fans as well as those who loved the movie When Harry Met Sally. I am normally a sucker for retellings but there was just something about this one just never really settled with me. As I mentioned above I just never really became invested in this story. If I didn’t read it in almost a single setting then there was a good chance that I’d have put it down and never picked it back up again. There was no sense of urgency to see how it would end. And I think that is in part because of those chapter interludes that I mentioned before.
Much of the plot in Better Off Friends was the result of the main characters refusing to communicate with each other. If they just talked to each other but what they were really thinking…and then listened to what the other was saying. Then so much angst and grief could have been avoided. This goes for the friends in Macallan’s life as well as for her relationship with Levi. This put all the characters slightly more towards annoying on the likability scale. Better Off Friends wasn’t a bad book but its not one that I think I will reread. Eulberg writes a good story and I’ll continue to pick up her books, I just hope that she tries something new next time and avoids a retelling of something so well known.