Book Review: THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE by Ciara Smyth

Title in white on orange-y image of two girls
Genre: Contemporary with romantic elements
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE: two girls on orange with title in white

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.

But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

Contemporaries and books with heavy romance elements are not my usual reading material, and nor my favourite thing either. I can’t actually remember why I got this book in the first place, but as it’s next on my shelf, it’s finally getting picked up.

I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting to. It’s a homage to rom-coms, particularly from the 90s and early 2000s. You can tell the author both loves them and sees their flaws as Saoirse and Ruby both fall on different sides of the love/hate divide, and discuss their failings.

There are a lot of 4th walls breaks in the book, with Saoirse directly addressing the reader with very self-aware comments. It was an interesting style, and funny at times. But that self-awareness in the breaks didn’t actually translate to self-awareness in her actions. She still did the stupid things she was aware of. It is written in first person past tense, so it could be interpreted as her looking back, but the comments came across to me as her thoughts in the moment rather than commentary afterwards.

My favourite character was Oliver, and I wish he’d had more page time as he was just so funny.

The main thing that held me back from thoroughly enjoying it was that it did follow the beats of a rom-com (save for the ending.) The meet cute, the falling in love montage, the big fight, the dramatic gesture etc. I am not a big rom-com fan and a big part of that is how formulaic I find them. I know that’s what some people love about them, that you know what you’re getting yourself in for, but that’s not me.

I don’t like being able to predict pretty much everything I’m about to watch/see. I like the element of surprise and uncertainty in media, because if I can work out how nearly everything’s going to pan out, then what’s the point in spending the time reading/watching it? And I predicted everything but the exact ending in this book.

It’s not a romance, because it doesn’t end with a Happily Ever After or a Happily For Now (which I believe are the only requirements for something to be considered a romance.) However, the romantic elements are, as implied in the synopsis, a major part of the plot.

I was a little surprised that there wasn’t a HEA or HFN – because I feel like this had been marketed as a romance. However, it does fit the story to not have one. It made the ending about Saoirse’s personal growth rather than everything being fixed by love. It’s a story as much about messy families and holding oneself back due to fear as it is about love.

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