Joyride – Anna Banks

Rating = 3/5 stars

Goodreads summary:

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.
It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.
All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Overall just an average book. Average characters, average writing, average plot. It had potential for each of these elements to be stellar, but fell flat in my opinion.

Let’s talk about the characters. I was very happy with Carly’s strength, intelligence, and selflessness. I was not happy that her story focused on a boy. I know that it was because this boy opened her up to the possibility of fun and thinking about herself for once. But I still feel like that is something she could have discovered with her friend or family member or even by herself! That way those times in the book spent talking about her swooning over Arden could have been spent further delving into her determination to get a scholarship & college degree, considering her familial relationships, or learning more about herself. I do appreciate that her character is a diverse one: a Mexican-American with a family who was deported back to Mexico. So points for that. But man Arden. What a whiny little snot. I feel like all of the back story with his sister and his shit father was an attempt to make him interesting and deep. But I just wanted to punch him in the teeth every time I saw him. He was spoiled, ridiculous, and uninteresting. I only cared about him because he talked to Carly so often. Carly could definitely do better. I hated how he kept justifying his feelings for Carly. It was very Darcy in P&P – how he loves Lizzie despite his family background and his status in life, etc. AND HIS DAD. OMG. ASS OF ALL ASSES. WTF. We will leave it at that. I did like Arden’s Uncle Cletus (I think that was his name?…) and Julio. Because although Julio was narrow-minded, he had justifications for it. And he grew as a person by the end of the book I think.

The plot itself irritated me. Like I said, it had potential to be a cool comment about kids like Carly in America. Instead it was filled with soap opera-y drama, ridiculous “pranks,” and a “climactic” ending that was actually pretty improbable. All of the problems were magically solved, everything lined up unrealistically, and the big event that happened to change the course of the story was both predictable and cliche, what with Arden’s dad and Carly’s family’s situation lining up like that.

The writing – especially the writing of Carly & Arden’s romance – seriously did not do it for me. It was supposed to be angsty yet full of chemistry and blossoming into this wonderful understanding of one another… but instead it made me kind of hate them. The dialogue between the two of them felt so forced in its efforts to be deep. They had these “long talks” and “misunderstandings” that really just seemed cheesy and forced to me. I will say that I did like the writing of Carly’s interior monologue. Any chance Carly learns more about herself, and we as readers therefore learn more about her too, was great. Did not care to hear more about Arden and his irritating self though.

I still give this story 3 stars because of Carly, and damn did I love the idea of the plot. But overall, I’m sad to say you can probably skip this book. I think it meant to do a lot of things, but wasn’t successful in pretty much all of its endeavors. Nothing that stellar in it worth holding out for.

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