** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
To Be Honest
#lovehim, Book 2
POV: 1st person, present tense
Would I read it again?: Of course!
Genre: YA, LGBT, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Warnings: catfishing, internalised homophobia, homophobia, suicide, mental health, bullying, assault
Wow! I barely know what to say.
This series is...beautiful, charming, fun, romantic, and speaks to the hopeless romantic in me. Yet, it also manages to tackle real, everyday issues for teens, in a way that isn't preachy or condescending, or lecturing. Throughout the series, issues such as race, orientation, acceptance, bullying, and even self-awareness have been tackled without once feeling out of place.
Despite the nearly 300 pages of each novel, I binge read each one in less than a day. That's how all-consuming they are, how engaging, and captivating the stories are.
If you haven't read “No Big Deal” yet, then I suggest you do so quickly. It gives a little context, a little extra something to this novel that provides a deeper connection between Tyler and Angus, introducing us to how they met and how the catfishing concept started. And then go back and read book 1 “That Feeling When” and the short “In Real Life” because, trust me, you will not be sorry. I'm happy to say that I'm a series-reader, and I can't abide to read a series out of order, even if they are classed as standalones. So I started with “That Feeling When” and binge read all four stories in less than a week. I've only fallen more and more in love with the world that was created within this series with each story, and I can't wait until December 11th, when the next short “For the Win” is released.
For me, “To Be Honest” is one of those books that you could read again and again and never not fall completely head over heels in love with each page, as you're reading. It's also one of those books that, once you know the meaning of the title, becomes all the more special for it. The fact that it added in spotlights of Archie's life, from book 1, was an added bonus. Despite having read his story first, I loved the contrast of seeing him pre- and post-Yarran, and how Angus reacted to that.
Again, the presentation was on point. From the writing style to the visuals of chapter headings, to the added sub-chapter snippets of Angus and Scotty's chat conversations.
Right from the start, I floved Tyler. He was so weird, so awkward, so nerdy, that it was just right up my alley. His weird dirt thing, the jokes, the weird places he wanted to visit – adorkable perfection, from one science geek to another! Angus, with his easy-breezy acceptance of the subtle homophobia at school, the way he opened up with Tyler, and his staunch support of Anah's inadvisable relationship with Link, just made him as loveable as Tyler. Here were two clueless guys circling each other, with no idea what was really going on. And then Scotty...God, Scotty was something else. Those long talks, the hesitations, the nerves, the fear. My heart bled for him the entire time.
And, as a mystery buff I have to admit that I had my suspicions about the Scotty situation. Whether they really were a catfisher or not. If so, who they would be. My head went in a million different directions, a million different times, while reading, because although it was obvious, it also really wasn't obvious, and I sat on tenderhooks the entire time, trying to figure it out. It's one of those moments that, when the big reveal happens, you sit and go “Oh! Sure, I knew that!” but you questioned and second-guessed yourself every step of the way.
I love the subtle way that each new character, for the next book, is introduced. I love that we always get to see even a tiny snippet of them and their personality, before we delve into their story. It makes me excited to see more of Darien, in December, now that I've had a glimpse of him in this book.
The bonus chapter in Tyler's POV was just...perfection!
I cried. It was ridiculously beautiful. I smiled nearly from start to finish, with some tears, some shocked gasps, some edge-of-the-seat tension in between. And then it ended just so...perfectly. That's the only word for it. It ended just as it was meant to.
And I would still read another novel with these two as the MC's. Just as I would still read another novel with Archie and Yarran. Or all four in one novel. Or any combination the author wants to try. Because this is one series I'll be reading until the last story. And then I'll go back and start all over again, re-reading every sweet word.
“Tyler is basically my straight soul mate. It's unbelievable how we just get each other.”
“So I kept my word.
To Be Honest, that was my first mistake.
Falling in love with you was my second.”