“Do you know I’m afraid? Every time I learn a new jump. Every time. It’s not about being fearless, it’s about learning to face your fears.”
Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls.
Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.
But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?
I'm honestly not sure what to think of The Boy Next Door. There were some parts of it that I liked but sadly the bad things outnumbered the good by far. Now looking back to it I can't see anything but a stinking mess. It wasn't all bad, that's for sure, but there was close to no fun in reading it because for every enjoyable scene came five terrible ones.
My biggest problem was that some paragraphs looked like random ramblings that just simply didn't make sense. It wasn't that disturbing but I wasn't a fan of Katie Van Ark's writing style and this made the novel go downhill fast for me. Again, this might just be me because no one mentioned anything about this in the book club. What was the real problem for me was that while the book didn't cross to NA territory it was way more steamier than a YA novel should ever be.
Moving on to the story. It was exactly what the synopsis made it seem like: a cliché contemporary romance spiced up with figure skating. I believe that clichés can be used in a way that they make a unique and original story, unfortunately this didn't happen in The Boy Next Door. Let's just admit that contemporary romance isn't the most unpredictable thing out there but this novel was way more predictable than any book should be. I appreciate that the author tried to add some surprising things to freshen up everything but sadly they mostly felt forced and out of place.
However I liked how the author described figure skating and how it was really an important part of the story and wasn't just there for the sake of it. Obviously, I'm no expert but I think she did her research, and thanks to her now I'm eager to read more figure skating novels.
I didn't enjoy the romance at all. It's rare when I don't ship a couple but I just couldn't root for these two. I felt like Gabe lead on Maddy for quite some time and hurt her too many times to even count, being in his head only made matters worse. It was even worse to see that most of the time he only thought about himself, and how being with Maddy would change his life, while he never once considered that Maddy was hurting. His two week relationships annoyed the hell out of me as well, and him insisting that he would lose his affection towards Maddy in two weeks made him look dumb. I mean who the hell believes in such a stupid thing?
"My two weeks are about up. Mad and me, we'll find our balance again."
Another thing that made me sad was the lack of deep connection between Gabe and Maddy. They were supposedly best friends who've spent hours together every single day since childhood. But where the hell was that friendship because I honestly couldn't find it anywhere. Add this to the sucky romance and you can probably tell why I call this a stinking mess.
The ending was rushed and made me doubt the common sense of the characters. I was waiting for a cute scene between Maddy and Gabe that would make everything alright between them but I got something that I hate seeing in (most) YA books. Out of the blue, the parents were alright with Maddy and Gabe being together and every secret was revealed. Problem is that this happened so fast that I couldn't even appreciate anything of it.
The characters weren't special, if anything they were quite ordinary, and not in a relatable way. Maddy let Gabe treat her like a piece of trash and when she overheard something she didn't confront him, rather tried to avoid him, and that was when they were in a relationship. I honestly don't get how this should have worked out. At the same time Gabe was a total jerk and he not once made me swoon which is something that most male leads manage to do. While I can let him get away with being a manwhore I can't look over the fact that he made it sound like something was wrong with him and that's why he couldn't be with a girl for more than two weeks. There was no reason for Gabe to be troubled, he had exceptional parents and Maggie, who would have stood next to him no matter what.
The four parents seemed like nice people but to be honest I didn't like any of them all that much. Maddy's mom seemed really cold but that might can be thanked to the fact that she was dealing with some tough stuff. Speaking of which, I don't get why Maddy couldn't know about 'that', she wasn't little anymore and I think it would have been better for her to know the truth than to speculate on how things looked from the outside. I didn't like how they were against Gabe and Maddy ever getting into a relationship, it felt wrong that they kept saying how that could ruin everything.
The supporting characters were even more dull than the main ones. Kate and Chris weren't just terrible friends but they had no role besides showing us how Maddy and Gabe's relationship could ruin their skating career. Even though I didn't like Kate nor Chris I do think that they'd have deserved some kind of closure. Because they didn't get any part in the end they seem even more unimportant.
Favorite character: -
Least favorite: Gabe, Kate
The story idea: 4/5
The realisation of the story: 2/5
The characters: 2/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 3/5
Do you like books about sports? Do you have a favorite one?