This had so much potential, and the fake dating trope + meddling moms was such a cute concept and hook!
I think there was a lot of cute things in this novel, and it does hold some appeal to certain YA readers who like quirkier books. The concept is appealing to most, but the writing style and brand of humor is what makes it this type of read.
Even so, there were a few things that I wish were—more polished, I guess? It’s kind of hard for me to pinpoint what exactly made this “cute, but not really my favorite,” but I’ll try my best for this review!
But if you want the short version, Fake It Till You Break It is light romantic comedy with an eye-catching premise and a bit of a silly, Wattpad-style execution.
Mia was A Character.
I’m starting with the negative, because this is the main thing that honestly defined my reading experience.
For those of you who have read books on Wattpad, there are a decent number of books written by teens & young teens. And the style is a bit distinctive—a lot of the time you can tell because they have a certain brand of humor.
It’s a little bit of name/brand/popular culture reference-dropping, it a little bit of giant hoodies and being cute/silly, it’s a little bit of eating a lot of food. If you haven’t read a Wattpad novel by a 13 year old, you might not understand, but in short, the way Mia acted & narrated was very similar to imagined teen actions (but not real ones).
Alternatively, manic pixie dream girl x forced quirkiness x trying too hard to be relatable. And this is part of the reason why it’d appeal to younger readers, because it is fun, but the more…sarcastic, cynical, less dreamy younger YA readers will probably end up scorning this book and Mia.
I think Nguyen tried a little too hard to make Mia relatable and YA, and although I appreciate the way that this book felt like it was geared to teens, I also feel like she needed to spend a little more time with real ones.
I think if you read a chapter or two, you’ll understand what I mean, but unlike Cleves from The Dead Queens Club or Sky from Fire and Heist, she didn’t feel naturally funny/quirky/relatable. She felt forced.
On the other hand, Jake was fine and his narrative didn’t feel glaringly weird to me (but I’m also not a teenage boy and I get the feeling that A Lot of teenage boys in YA aren’t necessarily uhh…accurate).
So yeah. It wasn’t like a Huge Deal, but I think Nguyen could have polished the narrative more and made the characters a little more real and less of a caricature.
The plot was cute!
I did, however, think that the concept was cute. Two enemies who live next door to each other deciding to fake date to get their two single moms (one’s technically an aunt, I believe?) off their back was super cute.
The moms conspired, the kids thought they were outsmarting them, and there were lots of cute shenanigans going on as Jake and Mia questioned whether they liked each other. The storyline was a good type of cliché, and ultimately I think it was the execution and the way the characters were presented that bogged this story down, a bit.
Overall, Fake It Till You Break It had a cute concept, but slightly lackluster follow through.
I think this book had a lot of potential, but the forced/fake nature of Mia’s character felt too unrealistic and ended up taking away from my reading experience.
I definitely think it has appeal, especially if you like quirky MCs, but I personally ended up being kind of meh about Mia’s character, which largely influenced the book. (Although, DIM SUM!)
Mia and Jake have known each other since children, growing up on the same street, and although their mothers are best friends, Mia and Jake can’t stand to be in the same room as each other. To get their moms off their backs about dating each other, Mia and Jake pretend to date for a little while and then stage the worst break up of all time—that should work . . . right?
Thank you so much to Chloe @ The Elven Warrior for sending me an advance reader’s copy to pass on to another reviewer!