I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 28th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.
I was really looking forward to this read. A boy coming between two friends is quite common in the teen years, at least as far as I remember and from my personal experience. In fact, I’m surprised it doesn’t come up in YA books more often, to be honest. Needless to say, I was looking forward to seeing how these characters handled the delicate situation in Anything to Have You. The result in 2 words? HOT MESS.
I literally have a whole page of notes on issues I had with this book and I apologize now that this review might be a tad spoiler-y to get my thoughts across. The overall plot, like I mentioned above, was good. A girl goes to a party with her best friend and fears she might have made a mistake and slept with that BFF’s boyfriend. And honestly, I was enjoying the read for the most part for quite awhile. It was around the 40% mark, right when things were getting interesting, that the book took a terrible, HORRIBLE turn.
The book starts out from the POV of Natalie. Natalie is a quiet girl who prefers to stay in and watch movies with her dad than go out and party like her best friend, Brooke. I HATED Brooke from page one. Seriously. Brooke is selfish. She wants everyone’s attention to always be on her. Even though she has a long-term boyfriend, Aiden, she wants to be wanted by every boy in her vicinity. She is constantly contemplating cheating on him and doesn’t seem to care for him at all, only staying with him as someone to fall back on who she knows will pay her the attention she craves. She was so superficial. She had an obsession with partying and drinking and was bound and determined to get her best friend out to ‘enjoy’ the rest of their senior year of high school. This is all stuff you learn very early in the book about Brooke. I’m all for characters having issues and being unlikable just to watch them grow and mature but I could not for the life of me stand this girl.
I didn’t mind Natalie’s character. I mean, she was a bit naive and a pushover but I was determined to see potential in her character development. We are unsure what *exactly* transpired the drunken night of the party, though it’s obvious to us readers. I don’t condone cheating whatsoever, but somehow I found myself rooting for Natalie and Aiden, despite his attachment. There was some unresolved sexual tension floating between them and you could see how much they clicked together. I had my fingers crossed Aiden would wise up and end what needed to end and move on. But just when I felt things were getting good for these two, the POV suddenly switched to Brooke’s at 40%. WHAT?! NO.
And this is where the book failed. Brooke’s POV. At this point we are invested in Natalie so the switch so late in the game did not fit. Brooke’s POV went back in time a year and highlighted specific events leading up to the present. And basically it only succeeded in showcasing even more of how horrible a person and friend she was. So the next 15% of the book was a recap of sorts of previous events from her perspective. I do not like this style at all. We see her purposely go after Aiden when it was Natalie who was interested first. And we find out that the amount of drinking and partying she does is 10 times worse. Hey, I fully admit that I may have partook in quite a bit of partying at that age myself, but this girl was taking it to a whole new level. She’d drink during the school week, carry a flask around, etc. And of course, flirt with everyone and anyone in the process. Let’s not forget her jealousy when Natalie, the best friend she pushed to get out there and meet boys, gets a kiss from a boy (not Aiden). Instead of being happy for her she gets upset because she feels irrelevant and no one is actively in her face lusting after her. Are you kidding me with all this?
Moving on, we eventually get back to Natalie and I’m happier, finding myself starting to enjoy the story again. Things were getting good and falling into place with even a twist added in. And just when I felt like we were getting what I’d been waiting for, I’m sure you can guess what happened. We switched back to Brooke. Once again we go backwards a bit to check out what we missed on her end in the last couple chapters and then spend almost the entire rest of the book watching her downward spiral. And you know what? We never got to see her change and mature. We never got to see her character development. There’s no redemption. Again, I don’t condone cheating, but she did horrible things to both Natalie and Aiden as well. She was no victim. She played the part though, all the way until the end. There was even an implication that everything she was doing to herself was because of the cheating and I did not like that whatsoever. She was responsible for her actions and honestly, she was heading in that direction way before the scandal. The only touch of a change of character for Brooke came in the epilogue. What a huge letdown to go through all of that with her just to be told about it, not given a chance to be shown.
I can see why the author chose to make this a novel with a dual POV, but if it had to be done, it could have been handled in another way than this. If we got the switches done consistently from the beginning, perhaps? If we had gotten more of a payoff with Natalie’s POV at the end? If Brooke hadn’t been so despicable until the last page? I’m not sure but I feel like I might have enjoyed the novel more in those cases.
Weirdly, I didn’t hate this book completely when it all comes down to it. I do love when a read brings out emotions in me, even hate of a character. It was like a train wreck I just couldn’t help but watch. I just kept reading and reading. And I really did start to like Natalie and Aiden. I’m just so disappointed we missed out on every payoff we built up to in Natalie’s POV’s, when the story suddenly became more about Brooke and less about Natalie. So while I had so many issues, I can’t say this book lacked drama and entertainment.