Thursday, January 27, 2011

Strickly a Book Review

The Boy Next Door
by Meg Cabot
Avon Romance
5 spangles out of five
Contemporary Romance
Heat: Mild.

I thought these reviews would be of recent books in my genre, but I'm afraid I read a paranormal and got so mad at it that I needed something much lighter to remove its sour aftertaste. For some reason my first thought was of Meg Cabot (probably APDN, the All Princess Diaries Network, was on; all Princess Diaries, all the time).

What can I say? I lucked out. I began reading and saw that everything was done in email style, and figured it was some kind of silly prologue. Then the book swung into full speed and the email formatting didn't go away. I recalled that I'd heard of a book done that way; guess this must be it.

I'm not really into gimmick books, and this would probably tire quickly.

But it didn't. Instead I found myself laughing quite loudly on almost every page. (Obi was so upset he crawled out of the bed for a while.) The voices of each character are very distinct, and we quickly learn to love most of them. But oh! There are evil characters as well, and some are plotting some very nefarious things. Others are just jerks.

Mel Fuller is our heroine, a gossip columnist who would really love to be a hard news reporter (though she's really into the Hollywood scene). One day she finds her elderly, rich neighbor comatose after an attack in her unlocked apartment. Mel calls 911, and then has to take care of the neighbor's dog and cats until a nephew can be found to take over. (Personnel does not approve of her tardiness!)

That nephew is one Max Friedlander, famous photographer, ladies' man and general scumbucket who can't be made to give a fig for his aunt's condition as long as he has the chance to shack up with a hot model in Florida. So he calls in a favor from his college roommate, John Trent, to impersonate him and live in his aunt's apartment until she should revive or (more likely) die.

Hilarity, as they say, ensues.

On top of a tight plot, a rapidly-warming romance, a would-be murder mystery, family tensions, and an unforgiving personnel department, the email format is milked for all it's worth. We get jokes in people's user names, in how they approach the actual typing/presentation of their emails, and who gets copied with what.

I began to think that this would make a splendid movie, but decided against it. The email ambiance couldn't be captured on film, and without it the story wouldn't be half or even a quarter as funny. As it is, though, this book is going on my Keeper shelf.

Yep, it's that good. Read it!

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