Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)
* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.
A chance meeting has Arthur and Ben cross paths at a New York post office. When they fail to exchange details, both boys go in search of each other. Ben is suffering from a break up which causes him to lose his main friendship group. Arthur is an intern on a limited time frame. Once reunited, they face a ton of near misses and second
third fourth chances. But the universe isn’t exactly always in their favour.
I feel I am yet to find a favourite within both Becky and Adam’s books so far. Both of them have a way of writing that doesn’t always work for me. I was hoping with What If It’s Us, it would be a significant mash-up of everything I liked from both authors. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I liked What If It’s Us, I enjoyed reading it, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me. This book didn’t show the qualities that I had appreciated from previous novels.
I feel a bit guilty for speaking so negatively later on in the review, but there’s still a lot to love in this book. The side character, including Ben’s best friend, really bought the book together and made it little funnier to read. The diverse cast of characters Arthur is gay and Jewish with ADHD while Ben is gay and Puerto Rican. I enjoy the little conversations about Ben and how painful it is for him and to have his culture erased because he’s white passing. There’s an intense moment where Arthur says something that crossed a line and Ben rightfully calls him out on it. It’s a bit strange and confusing to describe, but I loved many aspects of this book, the concept, the story, I just wasn’t a huge fan of how it was all executed.
I really did not like Arthur or Ben. In my opinion, Ben was more likeable than Arthur. But I really could not click with either of these two. The biggest critique I have to give is predictability. Knowing what’s going to happen can go, either way, you either anticipate the ending you’ve guessed or found yourself reading at a sluggish pace. While Ben and Arthur have charming moments which I loved, there was no real plot. A couple of things happen, but the rest of it just falls really flat. The initial meeting was sweet and fun, and you expect more to come off from it, but it immediately goes downhill as the authors kind of force the relationship to happen. Given the timeframe the book is set in, Arthur is due to return home at the end of the summer, little really happens, and I was left a little disappointed. Once they’ve met, it mostly constant pining from them, Arthur over Ben and Ben over his breakup.
They do eventually come together and actually reach the point where they’re actually enjoyable to read as a couple. I was disappointed that it doesn’t last as long as you’d think. I get everyone hates the ending, but it was the saving point for me. It was quite open, and I understand why everyone would feel frustrated, but it’s a better ending.
I usually have no issues with current day pop references in novels, no matter how outdated it’ll read in the future. But what on earth was happening? I stopped reading for a bit because every sentence was Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton. Another popular musical. And then another reference. This does not include a very adorable scene where Arthur and Ben sing along to musicals. My stone cold heartfelt warmth for a moment. But I did feel like the references were simply over saturated.
Overall, What If It’s Us is not exactly a disaster read — and I think despite with my low rating, it has its shining moments. Too slow, and not enough was happening. The in-jokes and references became too much. It just didn’t work for me. I won’t cross off both authors from TBR because of it, I appreciate the stories they write, but this book wasn’t the one for me.
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Content warning: homophobia, mentions of a panic attack, racist comments. (more to be added)