|AUTHOR: Estelle Maskame|
SERIES: Did I Mention I Love You? trilogy, book 2
PUBLISHER: SourceBooks Fire
PUBLICATION DATE: March 1, 2016
SOURCE: SLJ review copy via NetGalley
GENRE: contemporary romance
SETTING: New York City, present
GIVE IT TO: upper-HS
SUMMARY: It's been two years since Eden last saw her stepbrother and first love, Tyler. In that time, Tyler has gotten counseling and rehab to deal with his father's child abuse and his subsequent drug addiction. Now clean and sober, Tyler now has a good job and an apartment in New York City, and he invites Eden to stay with him for six weeks before she leaves for college. Since two years have passed, Eden is convinced she can stay with Tyler and keep her romantic feelings for him in check. She has a boyfriend now, who loves her and would do anything for her. But as soon as she sees Tyler at the airport, all bets are off...
WHAT I LIKED: I've been trying very hard to figure out what it is about this series that people love so much. I've read many, many positive reviews on Goodreads. They say things like "the writing is so amazing" (not) and "forbidden romance" and "I just love bad boys!" I went into this really searching for something positive to say, and thankfully, I found a few positives.
So this book wasn't a total wash. I did really like Tyler in this one (as opposed to in book 1, where he behaved like a complete ass). He's grown up, gotten sober, and is now counseling teens. Responsibility goes a VERY long way in my book, and I can finally see why Eden might love him. I think their relationship is well-drawn also. It's complex and based on a rich and dramatic history of abuse and addiction. While in the first book, I could not find much to redeem about Tyler, I can respect that Eden stuck it out long enough for us to see a more mature Tyler. He's not cured by any means, but he's much, much more likeable.
The attention to detail. Okay, I didn't personally love that. For me, it drags the story down. But author Estelle Maskame does pay close attention to details, and it does enable the reader to really picture what is going on. Clothing, hairstyles, the apartment, people, New York landmarks...all are described in great detail. For me, describing the daily minutia--Eden's running excursions, her video phone calls with the endlessly vapid best friend Rachel, the clothing she wears--drags down the story and just makes it go on longer than it should. But I can't discredit Maskame's attention to detail--she does a good job with it.
The steamy scenes. They are nicely-done. Tasteful, different, sweet, and steamy. Maybe this is the "great writing" all those Goodreads reviews are referring to?
Maskame does know her audience. These teens are nothing like the teens I grew up with, but I know there were people like this--those who drank too much and fed into an endless and exhausting cycle of relationship drama--even 20 years ago. I wasn't friends with them, probably because between working 2-3 jobs and attending full-time college, I didn't have time for all that drama and angst. I know adults like this now, and I still avoid them for the same reason. But yes, plenty of angsty-teens will find a kindred spirit in Eden Munro.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Bloody Eden. She is still a special snowflake, still incredibly immature, and still an enormous crowd-follower. She has the audacity to be jealous of Emily and Tyler's friendship, even as she continues to openly cheat on her boyfriend? The one she refuses to break up with? The one she can't stand to talk to, but does anyway because she "has" to? She's not married to the guy, and she certainly doesn't love him. Let the poor guy go, already. It's wrong.
Eden's irrational jealousy. She's constantly jealous of Tyler's relationships. She freaks out over nothing, despite Tyler's reassurances that nothing is going on. Maybe she doesn't believe him because she's an enormous hypocrite when it comes to her own boyfriend?
The "taboo" relationship. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see why a relationship between two people who share zero DNA and who did not grow up together would be considered taboo. They are no more brother and sister than my husband and I are. Sure, their parents probably won't like it, but who cares? Eden doesn't get along with her dad anyway, and SHE IS NOT RELATED TO TYLER. Is she an adult or what?
The drinking. As in the first book, these teens drink alcohol like it's soda. Maybe my high school and college experience was just different, but we rarely had any alcohol in the fridge. If you wanted beer for a specific event, such as a party, you usually got someone older to go buy it for you. You consumed it all or gave it away at the party. There was really never any left over to "bring home." And even if there were any left, we didn't just drink it for the hell of it. We drank soda and saved the beer, vodka, or whatever else for the next get-together. I don't think I knew anyone who drank every day or just because it was Tuesday afternoon. Seriously.
Eden's phantom eating disorder. Does she or doesn't she? Eden is weird about food and exercise. She seems to either binge (she feels guilty that she's "eaten so much crap") or not eat at all (she "forgets" to eat for a whole day when she travels). She runs long distances (not so bad), but sometimes, she seems overly-obsessed with it. But an eating disorder is never really mentioned in either book. Is it because Eden is telling the story, and she is in denial? Or maybe, this weird food-exercise obsession is the new normal?
The annoying gaggle of vapid friends. Seriously, why are they there? They contribute absolutely NOTHING to the story. Thankfully, they are in this book less than in the first one. Score a second-star for that one.
The MINE-MINE-MINE stuff. Why do authors perceive that female readers like this? Repeatedly calling a girlfriend "mine" (or writing it all over her back) seems like a potential red flag to me.
That cheesy cover. The sunglasses! The Statue of Liberty! The "incredible DIMILY series!" Argh!
THE BOTTOM LINE: Way too much drama and angst for me, but clearly many readers have loved it. I did like Tyler this time, and I think the relationship is more complex than your average YA romance. It's not as bad as the first book--that's high praise from me.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don't have it, and I have no plans to get it. Definitely too mature for middle school libraries. High school libraries should note mature sexual content and frequent casual teen alcohol and drug use.
READALIKES: I'd say Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry or Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series, but I loved both of those series. For me, DIMILY pales in comparison.
- Overall: 2/5--see that? I gave an extra star for Tyler and the complexity of their relationship!
- Creativity: 2/5
- Characters: 2/5--again, Tyler--I hated Eden
- Engrossing: 2/5
- Writing: 3/5--good steamy scenes
- Appeal to teens: 4/5--I'm baffled, but many clearly like it
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5--shorter than the first, but still way too long
- Language: 30+ fu**; 20 or so sh**
- Sexuality: high; includes all four bases + home
- Violence: none
- Drugs/Alcohol: high; teens casually drink beer (even during day and at home); discussion of recent marijuana use