My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Very cool story. I’ll admit this started rocky and it had cliches that made me roll my eyes more than once, but I really liked watching the development of the relationship between Chase and Kelli. Kelli can be a little on the goofy side in her internal voice, but she’s likable, and I think she’s typical of a chick-lit heroine. Chase has his annoying moments, but he’s very respectful towards Kelli, and it’s refreshing to see that even with the way he teases her, they have a good, flirtatious rapport. I’ll explain more in the full review.
I thought that “Friday Night Alibi” turned out to be a light read in the end for me, but to be honest, it was a rocky road because of places I had problems with it. Depending on your suspension of disbelief and tolerance for the internal voice of the narrating character, this overarching read may or may not hit with you. I think it worked for me because of its light nature for the most part and not necessarily following the paint by numbers story plots I’ve seen in this age group so far. Usual NA readers who want something different from the angst and melodrama probably would enjoy this, because this is pretty light and fluffy in comparison to the usual “tormented tattooed bad boy and female heroine with oh-so-tortuous problems” formula that peppers some of the novels in this area. It was nice to see something a little more comedic and flirty and that didn’t follow all the same grains of the genre for once, and I think Cassie Mae hits the nail on the head for writing something that goes against the current grain on some levels.
As far as being realistic? Ehh, personally speaking, not as I would like, but I consider this pretty much a fluffy read. Part of what distanced me from the read was not being able to relate to the demographic that it portrays and the other part of it I’ll explain below.
The story begins with Kelli, an aspiring college freshman who runs a cover service at her high school and community for people in her well-to-do community. Kelli is probably the all-around picture of a perfect student – makes good grades, goes to church, volunteers. But in the backdrop of things, she runs an “alibi” service, where she serves as a girlfriend or BFF for hire for anyone who needs one for the right price, to maintain their respective image. Kelli’s voice was, in my opinion, too forced in the story with odd turns. She’s quirky, but not necessarily in an endearing way. Her narrative voice was grating in many turns. Saying things like the only thing that’s different between high school guys and college guys are their “hair, size, and how many condoms they carry” was a recipe for making me bang my head against my desk several times, among other things she says. As was having an overconfident love interest (Chase) who calls the heroine “Stinky,” and pretty much has every potential of being an alpha jerk, at least in the first part of the story.
For what it’s worth, the narrative did even out, and I’ll admit I laughed and thought Chase and Kelli’s flirtatious rapport and coming to know each other was worth following, especially when they realized they had more connections than when they first encountered each other. This felt like an easily digested, well-to-do chick lit story after a time, formulaic, but sweet. I still had issues with Kelli’s voice through the narrative, but there were times when she was genuinely funny and I found I liked her, like when she’d gotten a cold and Chase came knocking at her window with a paper bag containing soup and OJ – him saying he “[came] in peace” and her telling him to leave “or leave in pieces”.
It was hard for me to consider at times that Chase was a college student versus Kelli, who was still a high school senior, but I figured they were close enough for the relationship to work out and in the progression it did. It was nice watching the banter and discovery between them, as well as the development of Chase and Kelli’s relationship over time with some palpable tough subjects that are lightly touched upon. Still that doesn’t keep it from having the typical element of “I hate you, I heart you, you saved me, I saved you” motif. If you’re looking for a light flirty read that doesn’t overdo the melodrama and explores the relationships of the two leads in a humored way, this is fine to pickup, but it is formulaic, the cast mostly serves to shape the plot with some palpable stakes, and the heroine’s voice may make or break you. I would almost say that given the content of this novel, it could work for an upper YA audience. There are no heavy handed sexual scenes in this book, which was a distinctly different read in comparison to some of the NA books I’ve picked up.
I think in retrospect if some of the problematic/formulaic elements were taken out of this, and the heroine’s voice were a little smoother, this would’ve been a better read for me personally. I wouldn’t mind reading more of Cassie Mae’s work to see more of what she does in this age group, though, because I liked this for what it was worth.
Overall score: 2.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Random House Flirt.