Title: The Boy Next Door
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
When her neighbor was put into a comatose, Mel eventually makes contact with the lady’s only living relative to tell him the awful news (and to pass on the duties of animal caretaking). This relative is none other than her nephew, Max Friedlander, who cannot bother to immediately travel to New York to watch over his aunt’s pets. As such, he convinces one of his friends to impersonate him. And that’s where the story gets interesting.
I’ve actually first read this chick lit back in 2012, but today, I decided to revisit Mel’s relationship woes. I’ve always been a sucker for Meg Cabot books, and this novel is no exception.
First and foremost, I really liked how the entire thing is told in an email format. I know that this may be off-putting to some people as narrating a story through multiple emails tells rather than shows. By that, I mean people usually prefer to be able to picture what’s going on and to be shown what’s happening instead of being told about it. If that makes any sense. But I digress. I, for one, think that storytelling via email is difficult to accomplish, but Meg is more than capable of pulling the feat off.
The story flowed from one email to the next. There was hardly any awkward transition. In fact, by injecting Cabot’s unique brand of wit and humor, the entire thing was very easy to read.
While reading this book, I found myself paying little to no attention on its technicality. I did not search for character development, elements of vivid imagery (because that’s pretty much nonexistent in emails) or an intricate plot. Nope. Instead, I was simply kept entertained by the email exchanges.
The plot is relatively straightforward and borderline cliché as chick lit goes. Girl meets boy. Boy lies. Girl and boy fall in love. Girl finds out truth. Girl gets pissed off. And so on. However, what makes this novel interesting are the twists Cabot implemented into the cliché. I particularly like how she employed an element of mystery to the story (i.e. Why was Mel’s neighbor unconscious in her own apartment in the first place? Who broke in? Why was nothing from her apartment stolen?
As for the characters, I will admit that none of them comes across as three-dimensional. And sometimes, their actions did not really reflect their actual age. And sometimes, they were just unbelievably silly. But I did not mind it at all. I think the lack of seriousness on their part adds to the story’s overall charm. The only thing I disliked was Mel’s temper
and the way she reacted once she knew the truth.
Basically, this book did not blow me away. It lacks depth and has its own fair share of flaws. Regardless, I really enjoyed reading and rereading the story. It’s the kind of book with an insane plot and equally insane characters but in the most delightful way. It’s the kind of book with the kind of wit and hilarity that warrants a smile. It’s the kind of book that’s perfect for those looking for a quick, fluffy, light read while drinking a large mug of hot cocoa.
With all of that said, I’m giving this 3 and a half stars because it is more than okay, but not quite as great. It’s still worth a shot, though.