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Absolutely Arbitrary Aardvark (The Boys Next Door)

literati_rain66 Friday, January 14, 2011 ,
The Boys Next Door (Simon Romantic Comedies)Review of The Boys Next Door, by Jennifer Echols. 

(Confession: This has nothing to do with aardvarks. I was at a loss for an appropriate alliteration. So sue me.) (And thank you Maria for helping me with the Absolutely Arbitrary part.) (Yes, all I came up with was Aardvark.)

Quickie: Cute, light romantic comedy, but too superficial for me.

Full: Lori is trying to break free. She's been a tomboy all of her life, surrounded by her brother's three guy friends, wearing their hand-me-downs, and working with them at the marina. She wakeboards with them, has secret handshakes and knows every little thing about all of them. But to the boys, she's just Lori, McGillicuddy's little sister. (McGillicuddy is Lori and Bill's (her brother) last name. But everyone calls Bill McGillicuddy because it's more fun) She's not a girl, not a real one anyway. Not the kind with voluptuous chests and giggles and mascara.

Lori is tired of being the tag-a-long little sister, she's ready to be noticed as an available female. In particular, she wants Sean to notice her. She chooses tops that best display her cleavage, she attempts impractical shoes and accessories, and even tries out mascara. She giggles and flirts and takes an extra long time chewing her chicken salad sandwich in hopes that Sean will happen by and be swept away by her feminine charms... except it doesn't really work that way.

Adam, Sean's younger brother is Lori's best friend. They grew up together, they're next door neighbors, and he looks almost exactly like Sean. But he's not Sean and he's not what Lori has her sights set on. Besides, Adam has a girlfriend and come on, he's Adam.

Except that one night at a party Adam and Lori discover Sean making out with Adam's girlfriend.... Uh ohhh!! Punches abound and the brothers are pitted against each other.

Lori sees this as a golden opportunity. Adam wants his girlfriend back, right? And Lori wants Sean to see that she's girlfriend material. So what could be more brilliant than making Sean notice Lori and making Adam's girlfriend jealous at the sane time?! Lori convinces Adam to be her fake boyfriend, so they can rub their adoration in Sean and Rachel's (Adam's ex) faces. Ha! Take that!

When I was reading this, I loved it. As I neared the end, I loved it less. The writing was fun and bouncy and definitely how a teen would be thinking. I laughed a lot and enjoyed it. But the story itself was predictable (which is, well, predictable, since it's a romantic comedy) and a bit too shallow for my tastes. I remember the days when I thought that looks really were everything. It's a phase nearly every teen goes through. I thought that if only I had the perfect outfit, the perfect makeup, the perfect hair, the perfect skin, teeth, nails, backpack, and so on that I could be noticed. I identified with Lori and her quest to become the epitome of feminine perfection. But I've got news for you- it's just not possible, nor is it what matters.

Maybe I'm just too old for this book, but the schemes Lori came up with made my stomach flop. I remember girls in my school doing that sort of thing, I probably did it too. But it seems so stupid. Playing games with people's lives and hearts seems like such a dangerous thing to do. Too dangerous.

Her affections for Sean also had me yelling at her in my mind. How could she like him?? What on earth did she see in him? I understand that you're supposed to be rooting for "the other guy" but I thought that Sean should have at least a few good qualities. To me, he was just a bit fat meanie head and Lori was pretty stupid to think he was The One For Her.

I did enjoy the writing and the humor, but the story just wasn't up to par. I wanted something more- some deeper connection between the characters.

I do plan to read more of Echols, I know many readers who enjoy her work. But this particular book wasn't a big splash for me.

3 1/2 stars out of 5.


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