My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: This. Was. Awesome. I loved it, and I adore Ruby. I’m glad to see some of the resolutions to relationships in this book, as well as openings for potential new threads in the upcoming series. I decided not to factor the audiobook in my rating because I ended up ditching it and checking out an e-copy they had available at the library because I loved the story so much (I completely and utterly HATED the audiobook, and I don’t say that lightly). More on this to come in my full review.
Oh Ruby Oliver, how I adore you – and it seems like there aren’t enough strong young ladies like you taking the reins of YA literature and riding off into the sunset. You might not be in your happy place yet, but certainly it’s a pleasure to watch you grow and work your way towards it.
I think this is one of the best series I’ve come across in a while, because not only is the heroine genuinely humorous and easy to follow, she faces quite a bit of challenges. Relationships with boys being a significant part of that.
When we last left off with Ruby in “The Boyfriend List,” she’d managed to find a way to come to terms with some hard times in her social circles – losing friends, losing two close relationships on different levels, dealing with panic attacks, among other things. “The Boy Book” picks up the pace as Ruby still has to deal with the fallout of events. Her best friend is no longer her best friend, but yet Ruby faces building bonds with others again, and actually coming to terms with some fragmented relationships that didn’t have the meaning that Ruby thought they had in retrospect. It’s very much a story of where Ruby’s trying to get back to sorts, yet she has a fresh voice and humor to things that make it well worth following her through those hills.
Ultimately, this book centers itself around the existence of “The Boy Book” – sort of a guide to how to approach relationships with guys based on experiences and rules. Ruby’s matter of point delivery makes it both humorous and illustrates some of the conflict that can come with those relationships. It was touched upon in the last, but more of a focus in this one. I enjoyed it, and couldn’t help but think I wish I had this book to read in my teen years. It’s a story with a lot of heart and ultimately has Ruby growing in so many ways by the end of the work, with some threads left open to lead into the series more.
I thought Ruby’s budding relationships with Noel and Angelo were cute here. And I did appreciate an eye to Ruby trying to not only mend her relationships with her former friends, though the results of that certainly varied on the scales, and left Ruby biting off a bit more than she could handle in some turns. Luckily Dr. Z isn’t too far along to help Ruby through those turns, and Ruby’s parents remain in the scene, sometimes supporting Ruby and other times maybe proving a little too much help. I laughed at some of their interactions and attempts though.
I did have one bone to pick with the story, but that was not a fault of the series at all, so it didn’t factor into my rating, but I actually read two formats of this book in my reading experience. I started with the audiobook because for “The Boyfriend List”, I really enjoyed Mandy Siegfried’s narration of it. To me, her voice captured Ruby perfectly. I didn’t realize that they changed narrators for the series starting with this book. Normally I would be fine with that as long as the narrator can carry the story.
I have to be blunt about it, though – the audiobook for this was TERRIBLE. I don’t understand why the narrator was changed to someone who couldn’t capture Ruby’s voice and humor, being so out of place that it often missed on opportunities and did more to throw me out of the book than anything else. The delivery felt so dry, unemotional, and quite awkward. I was very disappointed in it and had to stop a good way in because I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to put the book down, though, so I checked out an e-copy at my library and finished out the work from there. It’s not that I think Kirsten Potter is a lacking narrator – she was just a wrong fit for this series in my opinion. I have heard her narrate other works, and granted she was fine on those, but it seriously made me wonder how the narration could’ve been so awkward for such a fun series.
Nonetheless, having read “The Boy Book” – I’m eagerly reading on. I can’t wait to see more of Ruby and how her relationships unfold from here on out. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite chick-lit/humor/romantic reads in YA.
Overall score: 4.5/5