Book Review: First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

Gray is content to brood and sulk about the tragic turn his life has taken.  Then he meets Dylan, a girl who seems unable to stand still and who is always searching for a new adventure.  In many ways, they’re opposites, but once they form an unlikely friendship, they’re inseparable, and it isn’t long before their feelings deepen.  Staying in love is hard when someone’s always looking to move on, though, and the two might have to learn that the hard way.

Told in alternating perspectives, Kacvinsky’s sophomore novel offers a love story for teens that’s accessible, fairly compelling, and a quick read (the book clocks in at just 200 pages).  Unfortunately, there’s not enough depth here despite the very real chemistry between the two leads.  Teens looking for a fairly simple love story with some superficial depth won’t be disappointed, though.

While Gray is a remarkably well-developed character with a convincing narrative voice, Dylan never manages to elevate herself past the well-worn, entirely irksome manic-pixie-dream-girl trope.  Nothing about her is authentic or convincing, and her constant need to move and go and seek out adventure starts to wear early on in the book.  Her whole decision to approach Gray and befriend him comes out of a challenge she sets upon herself, and the reader is left wondering if her actions are more methodical than emotional.  Like so many other stories about boys who are awakened by a manic-pixie-dream-girl, this one pretends to care about its female protagonist while presenting only the most shallow view of her.

The novel’s romance is uneven, as it its pacing.  Despite being a short, quick read, the first part of the book speeds by while the end seems to drag on forever.  A neat, too-tidy ending will frustrate critical readers, but others will enjoy the predictability.  Certainly  not offensive and sometimes even sweet, this is a good pick for teens looking for YA romance featuring slightly older protagonists.

First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 2012. Library copy.

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