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Review: In Real Life

In Real Life - Jessica  Love

The idea of this novel was quite an appealing one - two best friends who have talked to each other for years after meeting on line finally meet in real life. Exciting premise. The idea was a good one, can't fault the writing. I just didn't like this book. My biggest problem with it was that I simply just could not stand the main character, Hannah.

I found her to be a controlling, self centred, slut shaming pain in the ass. I liked all the other characters, but I didn't like Hannah one little bit. May be spoilery because there are some things I have to rant about. Other than that, don't have a whole lot to say about this one.

 

Hannah has been talking to Nick via the internet, text, phone for several years after her older sister Grace met his older brother Alex at a concert and they thought Nick and Hannah would be great friends. Turned out they were right. Nick and Hannah become very close on line friends. Hannah has friends and boyfriends in real life. She talks to Nick on a daily basis and they tell each other everything. They really seem to click and get each other. Hannah comes from a very controlling environment, she's the good girl who studies, follows the rules and does everything right. She dates, figuring she's saving her wild girl experience for college. Her older sister Grace is something of a wild child.

 The novel starts, it's spring break, Grace is home from college and Hannah's plans pretty much revolve around hanging out with real life BFF Lo and Grace, watching Netflix and hanging by their pool. Their parents are on vacation. So Grace and Lo convince her it's time she meets Nick in Person. Nick is in a band, he lives in Las Vegas, and he has a big show opening for someone at the House of Blues in Vegas. So after finding out Grace and Hannah come up with the idea of going off to Vegas for a few days to meet Nick and see his band play. Surprise him.

 

Not the smartest idea, but a fun one and after some humming and aahing Hannah finally agrees to go. She's a bundle of nerves. We learn a little more about her relationship with Nick and how things have developed between them. Is it actually turning into something more than just friendship. By the time they arrive in Vegas Hannah has realised yes, of course, she is madly in love with Nick after all. But once they get to Vegas and to the House of Blues (after getting fake IDS) everything goes downhill from there.

 

Turns out Nick isn't in the band, he just sells the merchandise and has a girlfriend, Frankie. Hannah is devastated. This is where I really start disliking Hannah. On the one hand, I can totally understand her reactions. Nick has never told her once he had a girlfriend. Frankie is small and pretty - but the only thing Hannah seems to notice is she has big boobs. So the slut shaming starts. It's like -how dare this big boobed girl be Nick's girlfriend! And so on. Gets annoying very fast. The thing with Frankie - is - she's actually a great character. She's fun, she's nice and she's really excited to meet Hannah as Nick has told her everything about Hannah. Hannah can't get past the girlfriend thing. She's rude and wants to pretty much get the hell out of there and hide in their hotel room. Without getting an explanation from Nick or anything.

(show spoiler)

 

Again, in a way, understandable, but Grace and Lo who have come along, have met some of Nick’s friends and his older brother Alex and the band members. So they’re excited to see the show and hang out with the guys.

(show spoiler)

 

And so the night progresses. Hannah does spent time with Nick, and much to her annoyance, Frankie. Frankie has a teen blog which is really popular in Las Vegas, about all the places to go and people she meets. Hannah does get to spent time with Nick and they talk but again, over and over it’s the fact that he has a girlfriend that comes up in Hannah’s mind, even though he’s tried apologising and explained why he lied about the band thing, and his explanation even makes sense.

 

Grace and Lo have both hooked up with guys from the band and disappeared to spend time with them. Hannah is not thrilled to be left alone with Nick and Frankie. She’s pissed at her sister and her friend, but they’ve only got one night in Vegas and don’t want to spend it sat moping in a motel room. Which in a way, even though I can understand Hannah’s frustration, I can see it from Grace and Lo’s point of view as well.

 

Of course Hannah finally gets Nick alone as she sorts out her feelings. And we get another moment where I want to punch Hannah.  

Turns out Nick has told Hannah before he had feelings for her that went beyond friendship. She blew it off because she thought he was drunk and he claimed not to remember anything he said to her the following day. So she told him flat out she had no romantic feelings and that wasn’t likely to change. So obviously Nick has taken that to heart and started going out with Frankie some time afterwards. Up shows Hannah out of the blue now deciding she’s in love with Nick and is royally pissed when she finds he has a girlfriend. It makes me just want to throttle Hannah and tell her to get the fuck over herself. 

(show spoiler)

 

Problem for me as reader as I just hated Hannah so much by then I found it impossible to have any sympathy for her. Though at the same time, I can understand why she’s irritated. It’s just one of those things I don’t even know why I dislike this girl so much. To make things worse, she has several chances to tell Nick how she really feels. And every time she chickens out. Meanwhile Grace and Lo are having the time of their lives, and while they appear to be sympathetic with Hannah, neither want to be dragged down by her mood and bratty behaviour. Hannah’s cowardice is really annoying. Doesn’t help when Frankie seems to show so much respect for her as Nick’s friend, even asking Hannah’s advice when she has a few problems with Nick she doesn’t know how to deal with.

 

It all wraps up in a mad dramatic rush in the last 5% of the novel, more eye rolling than anything else.

 

Apparently, I had more to whine about on this one that I thought. It’s a fairly quick read and like I mentioned earlier, it was a really good idea, and the other characters were great. They had lots of depth and personality and it was completely easy to understand their motives and actions. I just didn’t like the main character and that really spoiled the book for me. Certainly an author I would read again, this book just wasn’t for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for approving my request to view the title.