Reviewing these two books would probably be more appropriate around Valentine’s Day than a few days before Halloween (although if you are looking for something spooky this weekend maybe check out The Graces by Laure Eve). Still, after reading both Arrows and The Romantics this month, I knew I’d review them together. From the covers (blue featuring hearts and Cupid’s arrow) to the unique narraters (you’ll see), there is a lot, a lot these books have in common. Both books also take on the theme of love in pretty intense ways. They go beyond romance stories to examine questions of what love is. These similarities only make the differences feel more stark. So let’s dive into these two love-filled, YA romances.
The Romantics comes out next week, on November 1. The book is narrated by Love, and Love’s just made a mistake in the romantic life of teenage Gael Brennan. Gael’s just had his heart broken in his first real relationship and is dealing with his parents’ separation. If Love doesn’t intervene, this might be enough to turn Gael away from romance forever. Unfortunately, Love has a big hurdle to overcome. The rebound. As Love tries to push Gael towards the right girl, Gael seems to drift further and further into the arms of the wrong one. This book is quirky, weird, and hilarious. It’s nothing like I expected after reading Leah Konen’s The Last Time We Were Us earlier in the summer.
At first, I worried that the unusual narration style would keep me from fully investing in the characters as real people. After a few chapters, this fear completely vanished. Not only is this a very interesting take on a love story, it’s also an interesting version of a divorce story. The book doesn’t shy away from nuance or hard questions. It was a fast read that had me laughing and deep thinking in equal measures.
Arrows is described as, “A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV’s Teen Mom.” While sounding slightly bizarre, this is a pretty accurate description of the book. Aaryn, the son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot Karma and her boy friend Danny with his magic love arrows. Unfortunately, due to a defective arrow only Karma got shot. Now, she’s a teenage mom willing to do anything, even give up her dream of becoming a professional ballerina, for a boyfriend who doesn’t treat her that well. Aaryn enters the mortal world to try and fix their relationship, but this gets confusing when he develops feelings for Karma himself.
This book is a little more serious and darker than The Romantics. It goes beyond examining heartbreak to look at the effects of toxic relationships. Lies. Cheating. Broken futures. The stakes in this book are high. Karma is a mother, after all. I particularly liked the scenes on Mount Olympus and the discussions of the gods potentially updating their technology.
If you are looking for a unique book about love, then either of these books might do the trick. If you want something lighter with humor maybe try The Romantics. If you’d prefer a more serious story, Arrows. Either way, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
*I received The Romantics as an advanced review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. As always, all thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.