Author: Jennifer Echols
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: December 6, 2011 (ebook version only)
Summary: Gemma can’t believe her luck when the star football player starts flirting with her. Max is totally swoon-worthy, and even gets her quirky sense of humor. So when he asks out her so-called best friend Addison, Gemma’s heartbroken.
Then Addison pressures Gemma to join the date with one of Max’s friends. But the more time they all spend together, the harder Gemma falls for Max. She can’t help thinking that Max likes her back—it’s just too bad he’s already dating Addison. How can Gemma get the guy she wants without going after her best friend’s boyfriend?
Jennifer Echols is one of my stand-by, go-to, always-some-degree-of-win contemporary YA authors. Ever since I read GOING TOO FAR last year–still my favorite book of hers, by the way (if you haven’t read any of her stuff yet, I’d totally start there)–I devoured all of her other books as fast as I could get my hands on ’em and then set about anticipating her new releases eagerly. When this ebook came out earlier this month, I bought that sucker right up because I have an immediate gratification problem and couldn’t wait until the print version comes out in February.
Her books fall into two camps, I guess we’ll call them: lighter, funnier, fare with slightly younger kiddies and less explicit sexytimes (boooooo!); and more serious, more dramatic material with older characters who might even fall into the “new adult” age group, if such a concretely defined thing exists, and MORE SEXYTIMES (YAY!). She calls them “romantic comedies” and “romantic dramas,” respectively. THE ONE THAT I WANT is one of the romantic comedies, and I can say confidently that I liked it the best out of all Jennifer Echols’ previous books of similar ilk. Not anywhere near as much as her dramas, and DEFINITELY not as much as I LOVED GOING TOO FAR, but it was good, fun, quick, and a really nice, light break from all of the SERIOUS in my pile right now.
A while ago, I read and reviewed (on Goodreads) the bind-up ENDLESS SUMMER (review here), which was ok, but not super great, and certainly NO MATCH for her older, sexier books. I found the main characters in those books immature and a little annoying. Age-appropriate behavior for sure, but it wore on me. Gemma and Max are the OPPOSITE of Lori and Adam. You could never read about them and say, “Oh my God, these are the most irritating teenagers ON THE PLANET EARTH” because they have more depth and are those sort-of-rare teens who act a little bit OLDER than they actually are and it doesn’t come off as them trying too hard. I enjoyed that about them. A LOT. One thing that Jennifer Echols always manages to do–for good or bad–is have her characters act in ways that seem really genuine FOR THEM. Maybe that means they’re crazypants, immature 15-year-olds who think that telling each other lies is AWESOME because they’re afraid of the truth. But maybe that ALSO means her characters are kids who are proudly nerdy and different, embracing their quirky similarities, although not without a few slightly ridiculous teenage shenanigans, of course. To read this book and NOT root for Gemma and Max? That’s crazy talk.
Saying all of this doesn’t mean that there aren’t characters who made me SHAKE MY FISTS, as well as scenarios that strain believability *just* a touch. (Why, exactly, did the whole, “I like you, you like me, but there was a silly misunderstanding caused by your superficial, social-climbing bff that, for some reason, neither of us will ACTUALLY FIX until the end of the book” last so long?) And Gemma’s “friend,” Addison? GIRL? I AM NOT A FAN OF YOU. She was ambitious at the expense of other people, shallow, MEAN, and treated Gemma like a nobody little minion who would do her bidding and always follow her lead. It was condescending and selfish. And I’m not really even going to talk about Carter because he was just a big jerky doofus. NEITHER of them deserved to be friends with Max and Gemma, who were both fun, sweet, smart, geeky-adorable and likable. They had chemistry from the get go.
In the end, THE ONE THAT I WANT was sweet, fun, and really enjoyable. Sure, it’s predictable and some of it gets a little ridiculous, but I certainly can’t sit here and tell you guys that I didn’t do happy claps when I bought it, then proceed to CREATE time in my reading schedule to plow through it, after which I MIGHT have said out loud, “Awwwww…that was cute!” Because I MIGHT have done all of those things. I love Jennifer Echols, and THE ONE THAT I WANT was everything that I’ve come to expect from her stories. I can’t wait for what she has next!
The paperback version of THE ONE THAT I WANT comes out from Simon Pulse on February 7, 2012.