I received this eBook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Chloe Bennet’s Boywatching is a charming, touching and often hilarious young adult story about the friendship of four teenage girls and their boy watching project. The highly entertaining characters and conversational style storytelling had me engaged from start to finish.
The novel is narrated by the protagonist, Chloe Bennet, an intelligent, witty and sarcastic teenager who loves literature, especially Jane Austen. She has three best friends, Amy, Gemma, and Sally and the four of them create a boy watching spreadsheet and award points based on predetermined positive and negative attributes of the boys they meet. The concept began after the girls had a frustrating and disappointing experience at their annual school dance, or as the students call it, Snog Fest.
The girls aren’t all about boy watching. They have their own band called Overgrown Throttle and the Tempted Obscurity, OTTO, and they have typical teenage problems. They have annoying siblings and they obsess over their hair, makeup and wardrobe. This novel is more than a story about boy watching. It also weaves in layers about dysfunctional families, alcoholism and bullying. They have broken families; Chloe hates her stepfather, Gemma hasn’t seen her mother in eight years and Sally’s mother is an alcoholic. The four girls are victims of cyber bullying when their classmate Maggie posted seven candid photos on a Facebook page called Snog Fest – the Losers. Maggie is constantly humiliating Chloe, which causes her anxiety at the thought of bumping into her.
Chloe Bennet blends social issues with humorous moments in a delightfully balanced fashion. It was refreshing to not feel overwhelmed by potentially poignant scenes that some writers use to create sensationalism. I felt the pain and anxiety whenever Chloe had to reluctantly deal with her brother or had to confront her bully and whenever Sally’s mother’s alcoholism made her absent in Sally’s day-to-day life. Those moments weren’t so anxiety provoking that it was unbearable to read, but the reader still sensed the affects it had on Chloe and Sally.
There were many laugh out loud moments throughout the novel. Some of the incidences were hilarious, not just because of Chloe’s comments or actions, but because it reminded me of similar teenage moments of my own. One day at the park, Chloe slid in a huge pile of dog poop just as a cute boy was approaching. On another day, she tried to dye her hair herself only to endure school with orange hair. I felt devastated as a teen whenever I suffered through similar embarrassing situations, but now reading it as adult, I found it hysterical. If Chloe wasn’t doing something funny, she was saying something funny. She’s the queen of clichés and took pride in the fact that she can use three clichés in the same sentence. She commented that one of her friends was on cloud nine and she immediately started to wonder what was wrong with clouds one through eight. The novel is full of Chloe’s funny observations and opinions.
Although I found the novel entertaining, there were writing issues that prevented me from rating this novel higher than three stars. There were times when I wasn’t sure of the girls’ ages because sometimes they sounded younger than high school teenagers. Pacing was an issue since time advanced too quickly during certain sections and too slowly at others. There were moments when it felt like a couple of weeks or months had passed, but it was actually an entire school year. The ending was unrealistic and too easily resolved, which left me feeling a little disappointed because I thought it was a cop-out.
I’d recommend this book to YA fans who want an entertaining, light, humorous read without any complexity.
My Goodreads Boywatching review.