Stella knows her sister Cara loves the boy band The Heartbreakers, even though Stella herself can’t stand their music. Cara’s cancer is back, and there’s nothing Stella won’t do for her sister. She and her brother Drew take a road trip to Chicago to attend a signing for the band in order to gift Cara with their autographs for her 18th birthday. On the way there, Stella flirts with a cute boy in a Starbucks and is shocked to later find out that the boy in question is Oliver Perry from the very band her sister is obsessed with. Stella’s life is turned upside down when she and Drew end up spending a crazy night hanging out with the band and she realizes that there might be something there between her and Oliver.
This fun, romantic novel got its start as a serialized story on Wattpad, and there are times when that’s very clear in the plotting. However, Novak has managed to turn the story into a compulsively readable, sweet little piece of escapism. Readers will have to suspend disbelief, as much of the story hinges on a series of extremely improbable events, but on the whole the story is charming enough to distract readers from the probability of such an adventure.
What Novak excels at especially is creating tension between her romantic leads. She manages to have both Stella and Oliver walk a thin line where they’re on the same page in one moment and at complete ends in another. Their interactions feel mostly natural and the chemistry is palpable. Other characters aren’t as developed, and the inclusion of so many boys in the band serves as more of a confusing distraction than anything that furthers the plot or its characters. Uneven characterization aside, the novel reads at a whip-fast pace.
Definitely the embodiment of a summer read, this should find legions of fans looking for a great story about boy bands. It’s escapist fiction at its best, and is likely to entertain and delight young teens especially. Novak provides a wholly satisfying ending while also leaving enough room for a sequel (it seems almost certain). Predictable and pleasant, this is a great option for reluctant readers.
The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak. Sourcebooks: 2015. Electronic galley accepted for review via Netgalley.