Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Hi All! It’s Becky. I love cheesy romantic comedies, and I was drawn to Better Than the Movies because it promised to be filled with cheesy love. This book was cute but didn’t quite live up to my expectations. 

Title: Better than the Movies
Author: Lynn Painter
Note: I listened to the audiobook.

Summary: Liz Buxbaum grew neighbors with Wes Bennett. Liz can’t stand the smug boy next door who made her life miserable when they were younger. Liz avoids Wes until Michael, the boy she used to have a crush on before he moved across the country, returns to town. Liz recruits Wes to help make her more attractive to Michael. But as the two spend time together, Liz begins to develop feelings for Wes. Can Liz give up her dream guy for the boy next door?

Review: Is it possible to enjoy a book and also be frustrated by it? Frustration mixed with enjoyment is my reaction to Better Than the Movies.

I love rom-coms. I am a major fan of all those cheesy movies. I enjoy the romance, the grand gestures, and the over-the-top declarations of love. It is my love of the genre that made me want to read Better than the Movies. Liz, the main character, is a romance addict. She believes in love winning out and finding Mr. Right. Usually, I would be all in on that storyline, but there was something off-putting about Liz. She doesn’t adapt or grow, and she doesn’t treat people well. She’s unkind to the boy she is developing feelings for, her stepmother, and her best friend. Liz’s personality made it very difficult to connect with her. I did appreciate how Painter explored Liz’s mourning and her difficulty in moving on after her mother’s death. Liz’s reluctance to have new experiences without her mother was realistic and genuine and the best part of the characters.  

Also, I had mixed reactions to Liz’s possible love interests. Michael was an average romantic crush. He was a little boring, and not all that special, which made me question why Liz would be so enamored with him. Wes had the potential to be charming, and we saw glimpses of that, but I would have liked to see more.  

I also had a mixed reaction to the plot. I found some of Liz and Wes’s interactions to be charming. I enjoyed the moments of them getting to know each other better and learning about each other, but those moments were few and far between. However, for a book that constantly cites romance movies, I expected more grand gestures and declarations of love. Plus, any contemporary book that features teenagers smoking is difficult to recommend to readers at my library with their helicopter parents.  

Yet, even with those issues, Better Than the Movies did have its cute moments, and many readers of YA romance will greatly enjoy it.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5

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