All I’ve Never Wanted by Ana Huang

Read, comment, review, repeat. Read comment, review repeat: this is pretty much my blogging life currently but I’m pulling through to bring you the best reviews and help to add plenty of books to your straining TBR lists. Sorry about that. Today’s review is of a YA chick-lit genre book that I haven’t quite made up my mind up on yet. I think it has all the correct components but it’s not quite there, maybe. Hopefully we’ll get to a decision by the end but maybe you can make up your minds for me.

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The Scions were the four, most powerful guys at Valesca Academy, and they ruled the school with iron fists. Everyone wanted to date them or be them… everyone, that is, except Maya Lindberg, who just wanted to avoid them until she could graduate. She almost succeeds, until an ill-advised outburst on her part put her right in the Scion’s path. Just like that, one became her fake boyfriend, one her unwanted matchmaker, one her guardian angel, and the one she couldn’t stand the moist? Yeah, he’s her new housemate. A Young Adult romantic comedy that explores what happens when a girl gets everything she never asked for, including a puppy, a new wardrobe, and possibly even true love.

So the novel follows the quite stereotypical plotline. Shy, lonely, studious female attempts to stay invisible from the popular male characters who use their wealth and approval to inevitably run the school through the use of the powers of the clique, a little Twilight like-actually that appears to disrupt all learning and lectures. However after a slightly traumatic event at a party Maya, our main character, finds herself getting caught up in their group and having to adapt quickly to the new ways that are thrust upon her with differing success. We follow as she struggles to keep up with the demands, the new feelings that are running through her and her new friends who are the people she least wanted to get to know. Throw in a fake boyfriend, a guardian angel and a new potential love it looks like things are going to get a little messy; will Maya find her way through and finally come to terms with her new found self, you’ll have to read a copy to find out.

So, as I’ve mentioned it is a little stereotypical and I definitely saw links to a number of well-liked books and movies. I have read on Good Reads that this was a book that was based on a manga series named ‘Boys over Flowers,’ and I can see the similarities after a quick Google search. In terms of writing I did find it a little young and undeveloped in terms of the style. I don’t mean it in a cruel or unsympathetic way but some of the words used could have been tightened up to make them feel more practiced or skilled in terms of writing. Some of the words and language used also felt a little like slang and could for me, have been easily been replaced to help make it a better fit for older readers.

I think that although the pace of the writing did help to pull the reader in and did make me interested to read on and find out more I did find a couple of mistakes in terms of grammar and I thought there were a couple of problems with the tense of the writing throughout. When I’m writing I find it incredibly difficult to keep it a standard all the way through but at times it felt a little uncomfortable. However, I don’t think I’m really the correct TA for this book. I’ve spoken to other readers and bloggers about this and I think this is a YA book that is suited to a younger audience rather than being YA because it has a younger main characters. I can tell you that thirteen year old Lizzy is likely to have adored this.

In terms of positives I did think the characters held their own and helped to cement the plot together. Maya is particularly well written never knowing quite who she wants to be and fighting with her inner demons and her want to be invisible.  I though that Venice added a burst of energy and excitement and I liked the way that she pushed Maya to go out of her comfort zone and find herself a little more. Each of the males in the Scion group were described to get young girls screaming and I think a younger reader would be desperate to claim one for her own. I also thought the interweaving plot lines were managed well and given enough time to help expand each of the characters and make them feel authentic and real. I additionally liked the addition of her Grandmother, she was a breath of fresh air and added a comedic twist to the story.

I think overall this author has real potential and this novel has shown that although there is room for improvement in a number of ways there is a solid foundation of a burgeoning author there. I think to make it appeal to an older audience tighten up the dialogue and some of the language used and the slang unless it really does add to the narrative. Correct the tenses and make sure they all add up and just another skim through would have sorted the small grammatical errors. I think the foundations are there and I can see this author really growing to be a very popular author, not quite there but seriously a younger Lizzy would have been a big fan.

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