Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review - JENNA & JONAH'S FAUXMANCE

Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance - Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Genre: YA Contemporary
# of pages: 240
(pb)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Walker
Recommended for: HS & Beyond

Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

I was pretty much hooked just by the premise of this book. In fact, the first time I even heard the synopsis my mind flashed images of all these Disney Channel stars. Especially those two old teenyboppers from that series that made a little money from a couple years ago, remember? The one where they were apparently a couple in real life too? I wonder if they were faking too!
Okay, so here's the thing: I loved the premise of the story, but the actual story fell a little flat for me.
I actually think the book tried to be more complicated than it needed to be. Very early in the story (before pg 50), the main characters' ruse is exposed and they immediately have to go into problem-solving mode. I think it would have been a better idea to give readers a chance to see the two characters' lives, not only as a fake couple but also as young, on-their-own stars, before pulling the rug out from under their world. I just thought that were was too much action before development. I will say, though, that I liked the way Charlie and Fielding's secret was "outed":
I was expecting the authors to take the cliched easy road, and they actually gave me something I wasn't expecting. So I enjoyed that.
My favorite part of the novel was way too brief for my liking. Here's the thing: so much of the story revolves around Charlie & Fielding's relationship and how they perceive each other to be, verses how they actually are, in real life. When your whole relationship with someone (anyone) is based on assumptions and easy judgments, there's a whole lot that's taken for granted. I was so hoping that the time they spent together, in a secluded beach-house (so California!) would have been a time for raw conversations and deep character exploration. The story could have been simpler and more meaningful, I think, but instead, those scenes accounted for very little of the overall story. In fact, the second half of the book has Charlie and Fielding doing a regional theater production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and somehow realizing (through conversations with other people, not each other) that they're in love after all. I guess the book just didn't really seem like it flowed together well. There was too much plot for such a short book, and the result is that I didn't really feel any connection to the characters.
I always like books told in dual perspectives, because I love being able to see things from multiple viewpoints. In this case, though, I felt like there wasn't enough of a contrast between Fielding and Charlie. They're both intelligent. They both are reasonably responsible for their age. They both are good cooks. They both sing well. They both are in (of course) perfect physical condition. And they both are extremely rude and crass to each other. If the chapter titles didn't say "Charlie" or "Fielding/Aaron" (the character's real name) at the top, I wouldn't know which voice belong to which character...
And now...the romance. Guys, this is a cute, quick read that will be perfect for Valentine's Day. It's lighthearted, it's humorous, it's trendy...it's really recommendable. But is it romantic?
For me, the answer is 'no.' From what I've read in other reviews, the number one thing that most people seem to like was actually kind of off-putting for me, and that was the snappy, bantering and downright mean dialogue between the main characters. If you like snappy, sassy banter, you'll love the exchanges here. For me (who kind of likes sweet, genuine dialogue), reading the things these two said to each other made me cringe. I just can't imagine being able to fall in love with someone who talked to me the way these characters talked to each other. I know I sound like your moms, probably, so I'll leave it at that.
Like I said, Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance is a light, fun read that will definitely appeal to teens, and the amount of pop culture references were clever and well-placed. Just because the romance didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't be your cup of tea, so give it a try if you'd like :)

Final Grade:

7 shout-outs!:

LiLi said...

I actually gave it an even lower rating, because I just flat out despised this book. Check it out: http://chicareader.blogspot.com/2011/02/jenna-jonahs-fauxmance-by-emily.html

Khadija said...

I actually liked this book. I reviewed about a week ago. I get why you didn't like it though, it's not really everyones cup of tea. Great review! :)

http://blackfingernailedreviews.blogspot.com/

Blueicegal ♥ said...

Hmmm I think I'll pass on this one :)

Danna (Friendly Reader) said...

I've been seeing mixed reviews for this one. Thanks for the honest review, this totally helps my book buying list shrink:)
-Danna

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

I'm definitely going to check this one out, but it's not high on my TBR pile. I like some banter, but not when it's so rude... so I'm glad for the warning on that. It sounds cute in general, but I'm also glad that I won't go in expecting it to be amazing. I tend to like books better when I go in with that mindset.

LiLi said...

Lol, high five back! (I felt obligated since I got it for review, you know?)

Ava said...

This might sound kinda weird... but the summary for this book reminds me of The Hunger Games, where Katniss and Peeta have to pretend their in love for the cameras. Minus all the amazing action and dystopian setting though, it doesn't sound that great. I'm not huge on contemporary stuff either though, maybe it's just me. Really good review though!

 
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