Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review: Anything to Have You

Author: Paige Harbison
ISBN: 0373210884
Book Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Synopsis:
Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.

When I first read the synopsis I was intrigued, but also wary because books of betrayal like in this one are a complete turn off for me. I avoid them as much as I can. But a lot of people were raving about the author, so I thought to give it a shot as well. However, I went back to being wary when I saw the reviews recently out, and I can't say I blame them.

(This is a rant that quite possibly may contain spoilers. I'm very angry and need to vent.)

Now why this book rubbed me the wrong way? 
Well, for a second there, let's ignore the parts where there was betrayal and whatnot.

Let's focus on the valentine party, rager, whatever. It reminded me so much of Veronica Mars, but at least there Veronica herself has dealt with the whole situation rather magnificently, she understood what it meant. With Natalie it didn't feel like that at all, and I'm not sure what kind of message would that be sending. She was so drunk out of her mind that she passed out, whoever slept with her in that state has pretty much taken advantage of her. It wouldn't be wrong to consider it as actual rape, she wasn't conscious of the fact, and the way Aiden dealt with it made me hate him so so much. All Natalie did was feel weirded out about 'sleeping with' some guy she didn't know that well, and that she didn't remember much about him touching her. She didn't even have the guts to actually talk to him to know for a fact what exactly happened, oh no, she just assumed, and then rolled with it. What the hell? And that's basically telling girls that hey, drunk out of your mind or not, if you sleep with a guy and don't protest too hard it's consensual.

Second point - still not dealing with the betrayal side of things - would be the portrayal of the high school life. I mean, I get that I have never been to high school in the US, but it can't possibly be all about getting drunk and getting high. The relationships and the people can't be as distorted as that, to the extent that it shows as if it's the norm? That it's okay to be doing that? Whenever Natalie told her father that she drank alcohol and stayed the night at someone's house with a group of strangers both boys and girls, he was okay with it. What kind of father would be okay with that? Fine with his underage daughter drinking and having boy/girl sleepovers, really? I'm not saying they don't happen, but less with the parents' knowledge.

Now finally tackling the important part: The betrayals.

Why Brooke was a horrible person: 1) Brooke is a very messed up character. I didn't realize how much until the point of view of the story switched to hers. She's a selfish, egocentric attention seeker. I hated her when it was from Natalie's point of view. I then hated her more when it came to her point of view. She has this incredible and amazing boyfriend, a guy who is ever so sweet and friendly to not only her, but her best friend as well. But even though she definitely won't break up with him, she still wants to flirt with other guys and make them want her. She won't "cheat" per se, but she wants the thrill of knowing the other guys want her, because apparently her relationship with her boyfriend has gone stale. Now, the thing is, her boyfriend is hot sure, but she always knew they weren't exactly perfect for each other, she just wanted to have fun for the months till they graduate, and the real kick? She's always known he would have been perfect for her best friend, who had begged her to introduce them repeatedly when he had first shown up.

2) Brooke knew for a fact that this Reede guy had horribly mistreated her friend years ago, he had taken advantage of her drunken state at a party, slept with her, and dropped her just like that. Reede made Natalie feel like dirt and avoid all parties and gatherings for years. Does she show any sort of support to her best friend over this? No, absolutely not. She pretends to hate him, but personally I don't think it had anything to do with her being a good friend, and everything to do with the fact that she didn't want anyone to know that she was attracted to the horrid player/scumbag.

Why I didn't like Natalie:
Okay to be honest there are many reasons I didn't like her, but frankly sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend wasn't one of them. Because you know why? She wasn't lucid. She wasn't aware of doing it, especially since she had started drinking due to peer pressure. The blame here falls entirely on Aiden. I hated how Brooke of all people had started slut shaming her, when for the majority of the book she had no idea what happened to her. For all they knew she may have been freaking raped, why was that never a point of discussion?!
I hated how everyone said she had this strong character and wasn't afraid of being who she is, but I felt like that wasn't true, she let herself be pressured into so many things she didn't want to, especially by Brooke. But the worst thing of all in this entire story? No one called Brooke on her bullshit. The fact that she had emotionally cheated on Aiden repeatedly, that she'd made out with Reede, that she was just stringing Aiden along, even though she may have personally known he wasn't for her.
Why didn't Natalie call her on that? Why didn't she ask her why she'd rather have a horrible relationship with Aiden and all three of them be miserable rather than let her and Aiden get a happily ever after? Why was she so unbelievably selfish about everything and wanting only her way to go? Why did she get to make them all feel like shit, but personally not look into her life and all of the things she's been doing wrong to everyone around her?
The characters all felt very flat, hard to like, and hard to get attached to.
This book was just… bad. Really bad.
Rating: 1/5


  1. I agree with your review to some level… these people were pretty messed up… but there ARE people like that.. with messed up friendships and crazy partying and drinking, etc (heck, my sister tells me about some of her school mates who ALWAYS get high and drink.. and they're only 16 to 17!) so I get how these people don't do it for you.. since you can't imagine people BEING like that.. but truth is.. people can be like that and worse. Like I mentioned in my tweet.. Harbison chose to write about THOSE specific people. Anyways, great and very detailed review! :)

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. Thanks for your input really, it was nice discussing it with someone though since I've been pretty much feeling unsettled about this book, and I do get what you're saying, I just wasn't fond of Nathalie's way of thinking over it.