Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Contemporary YA/LGBT
How I got this book: Won in a Twitter competition!
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
Trigger Warnings: homophobia, panic attacks, mental health and cheating.
I had such high expectations for this book, something that doesn't usually happen, but was probably caused by the enormous amount of hype surrounding this collaboration and the fact that I absolutely loved Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Sadly, for me, the hype and expectations fell just a little short of the reality.
Don't get me wrong, in no way was the book bad, it just didn't quite meet those expectations and I was left with some pretty mixed feelings once I put the book down.
I loved the writing style of this book, I was initially a little worried about how Adam and Becky's styles would fit together since they're both so different, but the collaboration works really well and I quickly fell into the story.
Personally, I feel that What If It's Us is very much a Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda meets They Both Die at the End crossover. You can see that in the writing style and I love that you can immediately tell which author 'wrote' each character and that they pretty much wrote fictional versions of themselves, which is kind of adorable.
"Box boy dates guys.
I'M A GUY."
Arthur is very cute, and very naive, and he reminds me so much of Simon, but I do feel that he has a few character flaws, particularly his jealousy and overreaction to certain things about Ben's past, that, considering they only just met, make me feel that he has no real justification to act the way he does.
The actual relationship was pretty realistic (for the most part) although I felt as though maybe one too many cliche's were thrown into the mix and there were a LOT of pop culture references that may go over the heads of people who aren't musical theatre/Harry Potter lovers.
"I mean, I don't want to read too much into things, but wow: I meet a cute boy, and five seconds later, I'm in the middle of a flash mob marriage proposal? Could this message from the universe be any clearer?"
I liked the secondary characters, Dylan being my favourite character of the whole book, I just loved his openness. He's really adorable.
It might be an unpopular opinion, but I don't really feel that there's a huge amount of chemistry between Arthur and Ben, especially from Ben, who I never really feel is 100% invested in making things work and who treats Arthur kind of badly. I actually think he displays more chemistry with his ex than with Arthur.
That being said, this book does an important job in terms of the representation, it manages to address both homophobia and racism, whilst showing some cultural differences between the two characters, Ben who is Puerto Rican and Arthur who's Jewish, and who also has ADHD. It was also really nice to see the strong familial bonds in this book, and to see supportive, accepting parents.
What If It's Us started off as a very cute gay fairytale and it really was, for the most part, but Adam's more tragic/sad style took the story in a direction that I hadn't expected, giving a very non-typical, in some ways 'unhappy' ending that leaves a lot open for the reader to think about. Happy endings are kind of my thing, so I'm not going to lie, the unconventional ending isn't my favourite thing about this book but it still works.
"I guess that's any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything."
Overall though, this is a very sweet YA romance, packed to the brim with important messages about sexuality, love, racism, friendship, privilege and much more.
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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