Meant to Be, by Lauren Morrill
Publish Date: November 13, 2012
Published by: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Fiction
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for – gasp – the wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s the queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her … well, pocket. Julia also believes in fate, and that Mark, her childhood crush, is her MTB – her meant-to-be.
But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts … from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to live a little along the way. And thus begins a wild-good chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.
Once in a while, I need to read a cute quick contemporary read, usually with a fun romance involved, just to alleviate all of the fantasy and sci-fi I normally read. I picked up Meant to Be because I absolutely love hate-to-love stories, and was hoping I would find something to quench my desires. And it was a fun read, that’s for sure, but I don’t think I was an enamored as I wish I could have been.
I thought the writing was pretty good, and kept me involved the whole of the story, with only a few things that irked me – mainly whenever there was a strange and sometimes unnecessary aside from Julia in parentheses. The plot moved decently and kept me constantly engaged and unable to put it down, and while the romance was cute it didn’t feel complete. It felt like Julia’s feelings towards Jason barely appeared until about three-quarters of the way through the book, and Jason seemed so all over the place that I had trouble really feeling like this relationship was going to be a solid one. I liked the idea of Jason helping to loosen Julia’s personality up a bit, but would have liked to seen the opposite happen also – a good relationship is about give-and-take, and while Julia definitely needed to let go of the rules a bit, Jason could have used with some sobering up as well.
The main issue for me comes with Julia. Right off the bat I knew I wasn’t going to be feeling any sort of sympathetic emotions towards her. She is uptight, self-centered, and judgmental. Her introductions to everyone on the field trip paint everyone else in a negative light, all because she only sees their stereotypes and nothing more. A lot of her behavior and descriptions of herself had me wrinkling my nose in distaste. And on the first night of her stay in London, she does a complete one-eighty and decides to break the rules that she has never broken before all to suddenly prove something to herself and to other people. If she was so sure of herself before, why did she need to prove anything to anyone? She does slowly come to understand that there is more to Jason Lippincott that she first assumed there to be, but I would have loved it if she had gotten to know her other classmates better as well, to see that she was a little quick to judge most of them and that maybe she isn’t as perfect as she thinks she is.
Then there is Jason. He comes off as being the complete opposite of Julia, but with some possible hidden depths to explore. And while these parts of him do emerge at times throughout the story, I feel like there could have been a little more. Instead, he would sometimes hint at his feelings for Julia, only to turn right around and either be a complete jerk or just outright ignore her. It was frustrating and made it difficult to get a good grip on his character, making most of the novel feel like one giant see-saw of emotions and character development.
For something that is a supposed to be a romance, the character growth seems very much focused on Julia and even then I didn’t feel like she really came to understand what her flaws were, even when someone (Jason) said it blatantly to her face. Still, there were many moments in the book that had me laughing or smiling, and like I said before, I couldn’t put it down. It was a fun read, and not something I regret picking up, but it also had its flaws that made the romance only so-so.
Beat the Backlist 2018 | Books Completed Toward Goal: 3/20