Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, Lucky in Love
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th 2015
Pages: 352 •Goodreads
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.
I picked up my first Kasie West books in the hopes that it would add some levity to my reading schedule. I was in the middle of slogging through Illuminae (which is very good, but also very depressing) and needed something easy and fun to read- you know, something I could read in the bathtub or while waiting for an appointment. While The Fill-In Boyfriend definitely was fun, fluffy, and quick, I felt like I missed the rave-worthy aspects that I’ve heard so much about regarding West’s writing.
The best and worst thing about this novel was the character development. There were some characters that were entertaining and provided much needed real talk at times, such as Bec, and characters who really felt like they only existed to help propel the plot (such as Gia’s parents and brother). Fill-In Bradley was very sweet and sincere, and it was refreshing to see a male love interest who had more varied interests and traits than the standard athlete or class president type. While Gia was not a memorable protagonist, I thought her character growth was fairly realistic and found her tolerable throughout the novel. However, I also have to question why nearly everyone had toxic friendships in this novel, and why they were so willing to forego decades long friendships for a love interest or new classmate.
The aspect about this book that most irked me was Jules. She is the antagonist of the novel who constantly antagonizes Gia, trying to turn her friends against her so she can have them for herself. It’s constantly referenced that she has a “hard home life” as an explanation for her cruel and catty attitude, but it’s never explained in depth and is a pretty shallow excuse. I really wanted to see Jules face some karma at the end of the novel for how badly she bullied Gia and manipulated everyone around her, but *minor spoiler* Gia ends up taking ownership, thinking had she been friendlier to Jules she wouldn’t have had tried so hard to socially cripple Gia. While I appreciate Gia being the bigger person, Jules is clearly a character who is a bully and I don’t think it’s a great message that Gia essentially excused her behavior at the end, as behavior like that in high school is really toxic and can have lasting consequences. */rant*
Overall: The Fill-In Boyfriend was a quick, light read that had some sweet moments but lacked depth and is easily forgettable among the many, many choices in YA contemporary literature. I am still hoping to read West’s other works in the hopes that they will provide more a little more substance and originality.
It’s a shame this one wasn’t a great read for you. I just finished Illuminae and I absolutely loved it, but it is a very depressing story. So I understand why you wanted to break it up with a light and fluffy read. I admit that my favourite West book is The Distance Between Us, so that would probably be the one I’d have recommended. Hopefully if you try another one then it might work out better for you.
I definitely want to try another book by West (I own 3 more) since it seems to be the general consensus that the FIB isn’t her best book to start with. I finished Illuminae last week and while it was very depressing to read, I appreciated how well written it was!
I’ve seen so many mixed reviews for this one! I think I’ll still read it ’cause I love fake romances but it will be one of those light reads between some of the more denser reads.
Hope you enjoy Illuminae! It’s definitely a heavy book (literally and figuratively) but a fantastic read! I had to read it over the course of a few days because it is a lot to take in at times 🙂
EEK. This is the ONE Kasie West book I haven’t read yet. And I have completely 100% loved every single one of her other books – both contemporary and paranormal. I hope you give the others a try because I have a feeling you’ll really like the rest! I’ve seen others say this isn’t their favorite by her. But seriously, let me know if you want to chat about what KW you might want to try next!! Judging from what I know about your preferences, I think you’d love the PIVOT POINT duology!!
Thanks, Lauren! I haven’t written her off yet, as I own 3 more of her books (Pivot Point, The Distance Between Us, and On the Fence) that I haven’t read. I think at this point, after reading FIB, I’m not seeing a quality in her writing that sets her apart from other contemporary writers, or has the something special, such as Sarah Dessen.
I’m sorry to see this one wasn’t exactly a winner with you. I’ve never read anything by Kacie West, and this probably won’t be the one I start with if I ever do. Your rant about the antagonist is TOTALLY understandable. I don’t think that every YA novel needs to have a life lesson in it, but it is nice to see a little karma. Plus, fluffier books like this one tend to lend themselves to life lessons a bit more than other YA novels. Thanks for the wonderful review!
YES, I totally agree, not every YA book needs to have a morality tale aspect to it, and it can be frustrating to see characters essentially get away with bad behavior! I think that the audience who reads YA by and large already has a good grip on right vs. wrong and can handle a more varied outcome other than “the protagonist take the high road and ignores the villain.” I still want to try another Kasie West novel though 🙂
[…] Distance Between Us by Kasie West Also by this author: The Fill-In Boyfriend Published by Harper Teen on July 2nd 2013 Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Pages: 312 […]
I started reading one of Kasie’s books (though the name escapes me) and it was/is darling so far! I put it aside because of review book commitments, but I do look forward to finishing it soon and discovering more of her books. Sorry this one kind of disappoint, Cristina. Those are never fun reads!
Hi Rissi! I REALLY want to like Kasie West since so many people do, so I’m crossing my fingers that I come across one of her books that will resonate with me!