Title: My Life with the Walter Boys
Author: Ali Novak
Released: March 1, 2014
Favorite quote: “Alex, you got an F on your history paper. Star Wars does not count as a valid topic for most significant war in history.”
The last time that I went to the bookstore with my friend, I felt the need to buy at least something, so this is what I picked. I didn’t want fantasy or a book from a series (because at the time, I thought this was a stand alone novel), so I picked it up because I wanted a light, fluffy quick read. Plus, I love to support wattpad authors – they’re awesome. This will contain a couple spoilers, but nothing major. Also, I won’t give specifics, so it shouldn’t ruin anything for anyone who would like to read this before the book.
I’m going to write this now because I want to make it clear for the get-go: I was very disappointed in the book as a whole, but I do appreciate the fact that Ali Novak was 15 when she started writing it on wattpad and the fact that she was able to get it published. If you keep in mind that this book was the product of a 15-year-old girl’s imagination, it’s pretty cool. If you, like me, judge it based on the content rather than extraneous details, it’s a decent read but definitely nothing spectacular.
There. Now that’s out of the way! Onto the actual reaction.
If I can’t relate to or get behind the protagonist of a story, it’s very difficult for me to like the book; sadly, that was the case with me and Jackie Howard. She is not a main character that I liked at all. She worried about the most minute details and smallest problems. Yes, there were major issues – like the deaths of her entire family – that she dealt with as the novel ran its course, but what was the outcome? Jackie battled these demons when it was convenient for her. At least, that’s how I felt. Her final grand understanding came from the lips of someone else whose advice she trusted. I’m still not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, Jackie is a social creature (even though she claims that she never was before moving to Colorado), so it makes sense that she would turn to someone she trusts to help her understand her situation. On the other hand, though, it felt like the entire book was leading up to how she would resolve her problems only to have someone else solve them for her. I would’ve liked for Jackie to have been a character who was able to come to terms with her new situation herself, but I understand the need to depend on others. That coupled with the fact that she doesn’t like geeks (read it and you’ll understand) was thoroughly off-putting.
So now let’s get down to business on the rest of the characters. Alex – this great, understanding, helpful, nerdy, wonderful boy – fails at the end. He was written so well, and then out of nowhere, he just starts lazing and becoming someone who I can’t support at all. That was disappointing… Nathan and Danny were great characters, but very two-dimensional. The only one from the entire series that actually had anything resembling layers was Cole. *surprise, surprise* Again, I don’t mean to hate on the book. This is my interpretation. I know that I’m being a bit harsh, but this just really bothered me. The characterization was lacking for everyone else. Maybe the rest of the series compensates for the flatness of the first novel, but I was just really let down by how cliche every other character had to be. I don’t have the novel on me right now, but there’s a part near the beginning after Jackie first transfers to her new school in Colorado and one of the girls whom she becomes friends with says something like “whatever taste you have in guys, there’s a Walter boy that fits it.” That’s exactly how it felt – like Novak crammed one guy from every stud category there is under a roof with a little tomboy sister and a girly-girl love interest and said “let’s see how this plays out.” Don’t get me wrong: I say this like it’s the worst thing that a young adult romance writer can do, but it is interesting. It reminded me a lot of Brothers Conflict. (Great reverse harem anime. Recommend it if you’re into that genre at all.) Like Brothers Conflict, though, most of the male characters were there to serve a purpose, which was not to play the part of normal high school boys who have more than a one-track mind (whether it be for video games, sex, drama, etc.)
I’m not going to comment on the writing style as I usually do because this was a novel written by someone much younger than me, so who am I to judge? However, I will say that it neither added nor detracted from the reading experience.
I don’t recommend it. I’m not trying to be hard on it, and maybe I’ll regret this later, but I just think that there are other books that are more enjoyable that have the same types of main themes. For instance, if you’re into the multiple-love-interests plot and don’t mind anime or manga, there is a WHOLE WORLD of reverse harem that gave me way more feels than this novel. However, I do think that I’ll give the sequel a chance because Novak was older and a more experienced writer. (Currently, she’s 24 year old and has graduated from a creative writing program in college.) If I read the sequel and am wildly blown away, I’ll retract this reaction (or at least amend it?) to say that it should be given a chance. Until then, the only reason you should pick it up is if you just want something simple and fluffy.