Title: All That Glitters
Author: Ines Bautista-Yao
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
When they have nothing better to do, college students Billie Santiago and Carlos Angeles enjoy imagining what their lives will be like five years into the future. It’s never serious—just a whole lot of teasing and poking fun at each other. Until blindingly handsome, PR professional Iñigo Antonio saunters into the university bookstore where Billie works. All of a sudden, she finds herself face to face with the physical manifestation of the very dream she tells Carlos about.
Captivated by Iñigo’s magnetic personality, Billie is lured into his dazzlingly glamorous world—much to Carlos’s frustration. But as Billie notices Iñigo might not be playing by the rules, Carlos begs her to stay away from him. When Billie doesn’t listen, she realizes too late that she is in over her head and it may take a miracle (or a boy who cares deeply about her) to help her get out of it.
Before anything else, I received a digital Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book from the author herself in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Ines Bautista-Yao!
Personally, I dislike book blurbs that give too much of the story away, and the synopsis of All That Glitters does exactly that. Just from reading it, I learn that this Iñigo Antonio fellow will turn out to be either a fraud or the bad guy (or perhaps both), and it is clear as day that the Carlos boy will end up saving the day—or specifically, Billie’s day. Lo and behold, my suspicions are pretty spot on. Now, I’d like to think that the vagueness of the synopsis (or lack thereof) affected my reading experience as, after reading it, everything seemed quite predictable.
However, vague or not vague (it’s seriously the latter, to be honest), I can confidently classify All That Glitters as one of those books that “could have been better, could have been worse”.
I found the introduction of the story quite compelling. It was uncommon and strangely endearing. Right then and there, I could already tell that the story holds a lot of promise. I was immediately invested. However, it is one thing to have potential, and it is an entirely different thing to actually be able to deliver. But I’ll elaborate on this later on.
Billie was a fun heroine to read about. To an extent, she was quite relatable and reminded me faintly of my teenage years. Which is in itself a problem. For a supposed college student, Billie was consistently far too immature, especially when it came to her actions. At times, she came across as a whiny, petulant child. However, I do acknowledge that this aspect of her personality was probably the author’s intention. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that it didn’t work for me.
Come to think of it, everything about this novel did not work for me. I guess my biggest issue is that the story, in all its aspects, felt painfully underdeveloped, but maybe that’s because the elements weren’t in line with my reader preferences. The overall pacing was very rushed. Numerous scenes and dialogue felt unrealistic. There were no opportunities to build up the chemistry between Billie and Carlos, which caused the romance to fall embarrassingly flat. Character development was little to nonexistent. Even the resolution wasn’t thoughtfully handled. While I do think that the author is very talented, I think I was unable to fully appreciate the story due to personal preferences that significantly affected how I perceived it as a whole. I cannot help but feel that this could have been infinitely better.
Nevertheless, despite everything I’ve pointed out, I did not particularly hate All That Glitters. In fact, I did enjoy the novel as a lighthearted read. Even though I ended up not loving it as much as I hoped, I don’t see this as a reason to cease my support for the author. I could see plenty of room for improvement just as clearly as I could identify moments wherein the author’s writing style truly shined.
Excerpt from the book:
“Oh, quit it. I told you archives, didn’t I? You just didn’t want to leave Pixie Princess’s side,” she whispered, her eyes still zoomed in on the faces of last year’s graduates.
“Her name is Patricia.”
“I can call her whatever I want.”
“No you can’t.” Then in a small voice, he continued. “Don’t you like her?”
Billie felt the knot in her shoulders slacken and she tore her gaze from student number 127. “Not really, Carlos. But I can tell that you do. So I’ll be nice, okay?”
He scrunched up his forehead. “But why don’t you like her? She’s adorable.”
“You mean adorbs.” Billie crossed her eyes at him, eliciting a restrained chuckle.
“Fine. She can be a tad—”
“Glittery? Sparkly? Pixie Princess-y?” Billie goaded him.
“All right, all right. But I still like her.” He crossed his arms, his expression daring her to challenge him further.