Monday, January 7, 2013

Meant to Be

by Lauren Morrill 
Read: December 27-28, 2012
Published: November 13, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Library book
Category: Contemporary YA

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be. (from Goodreads)

Julia is a straight-A high school junior who has her life all figured out, at least the romance part of it. She already knows who her 'meant to be' MTB is - her childhood crush named Mark - and is certain that it's only a matter of time before they fall in love forever. No wonder Julia is not happy when she's paired with the class clown Jason on a school trip to London. He is everything that Julia is not.  

Julia plans to spend her week in London taking copious notes, studying Shakespeare and reading Pride and Prejudice in cultural locations, all while getting up early to swim every day (she's on the school team). But things start going wrong the moment she gets partnered with Jason. He has a completely different opinion about what it means to have fun on a school trip, as well as what constitutes a cultural experience. Plus he's annoying. And definitely NOT her MTB. That is why no one is more surprised than Julia when she finds herself actually enjoying spending time with Jason, and reconsidering her entire life plan. 

I loved the London setting of Meant to Be. Books set in foreign locations are always favorites, and I really enjoyed exploring the city with Julia and Jason. Although I thought Julia could be really dense at times, I connected with much of her personal journey throughout the story. I was a lot like her in high school, including having an irrational crush on a guy who I was certain was for me (thankfully, he wasn't). I enjoyed watching Julia loosen up and broaden her mind to the world around her. In many ways she really grew up on her trip to London. 

I will agree with Julia that Jason could be annoying at times, but I liked him more and more as the story progressed, and I began to see how he and Julia could be really great for each other. Although Jason is not the typical YA swoonfest, and he did some things that really bothered me, he did have his own sigh-worthy moments. Most importantly, he came across as a real high-school boy. He wasn't perfect, but we were able to see depth to his character and why he acts the way that he does. The more human he seemed, the more I liked him.  

Unfortunately, there was a big plot element that did not work for me. I wish the entire Mystery Guy plot line was not in the story. It detracted from my enjoyment of the book, and I almost gave up because of it. In fact the story line made me angry, when it was supposed to be funny. However, this part of the book may not bother you at all. I have several blogging friends who have read and enjoyed Meant to Be, including the Mystery Guy element. (I'm sorry I'm being so vague about why I don't like it, but saying more would be a spoiler).

Short-form: Despite wanting to expunge an entire plot line, I enjoyed Meant to Be, especially the last 1/3 of the story. The London setting is fantastic, and I'm glad that I stuck with Julia and Jason until the end. Bonus: The way that Jason is described in the book makes him sound a lot cuter than the guy on this cover (who looks older than 17 and pudgy). 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone


  1. Lauren, I'm so glad you reviewed this! I've been on the fence since (a) I think I'll wind up comparing this to Anna and the French Kiss and be disappointed and (b) I sampled the first chapter and actually thought Julia's voice was kind of irritating. Not to mention Jason's pranks. I think I'll just skip this one, especially since one of the plot lines irritated you so much. If I'm ever in the mood for some YA Chick-Flicks though, I'll know where to look!(; Amazing review, Lauren!

    1. I agree, K. Not sure you will love this one either. a) Julia and Jason have nothing on Anna and Etienne, so I tried not to compare them. But it could be disastrous if you did, and I can see that there are similarities. b) It's not good if you found Julia irritating from the start. I liked her at first, but then she began to get on my nerves. She was dense, and I had to suspend my belief regarding some of her and Jason's behavior. I really like that Jason is a different hero, but his pranks were really annoying. Thankfully we see reasons for his behavior, and I grew to care about him. This is definitely lite chick-lit, fun with a good message overall. But not an essential read.

  2. Yay! You're back:) Glad you saw this one through--I know it took you a bit to warm to it. Definitely not in the same league as Ann and Etienne, but still a cute story. And funny:) Loved the London setting. Here is who I think of when I envision Jason. I actually had this picture on my Tumblr page before reading MTB, but thought of it when Jason was described as a redhead and freckled:)

    1. Okay I think I could handle Jason's idiotic behavior much more easily if he looked like THAT guy. Great image. I need to find your tumblr page. I think the London setting really made this book shine. I wouldn't have liked it as much without that. However, if I'm looking for a hilarious chick-lit that is set in London, I would rather pick up something by Sophie Kinsella. Can You Keep a Secret is my absolute favorite. But all her books make me laugh.

  3. This is good, Lauren! It makes me feel better because you seem to like it a little more than I thought you would. I understand your issues with the THING, but I didn't pay that much attention to it. I was really finding myself wrapped up in the London-setting (which is a first for me since I've never cared too much for London) and I loved that Julia was a lot like me (pencils, please! and WAY too many books in my bag, always!).

    I'm so glad you stuck it out. I really am. I think it is a fun book. Although I'm SO DISAPPOINTED that the cover is so cute and not a scene from the book. No red dress! You and Heather KNOW how worked up I get over covers! Aaahhh!

    1. Also, perhaps I need to read Anna and the French Kiss again? I really think I missed out on something. The only and I mean ONLY memorable thing about that book to me is that it mentions Danny Boyle and I think there are some Batman pajamas. I'm not joking. Even Adam liked it. I think I'll do a re-read for my contemporary month and add Lola to the mix because I HATE that cover. This is a sidenote that has NOTHING to do with your review - sorry, L!

    2. I do NOT get the pencils thing, but besides that I was a lot like Julia in school. I would have been taking notes in the front of the class and soaking up the tour guide's speech. Loved the London setting so much, and overall I did enjoy this story. Thanks for reading it with me.

      Oh and did you not like Anna? I enjoyed it, but didn't LOVE as much as some people. It would be fun to re-read and see what you think now though. I did like LOLA, especially Cricket. Lola got on my nerves in the beginning, but she really grew on me. I can't wait to see the conclusion of that companion series!

      You and your covers...perhaps you should do an "Ugly Cover" challenge this year and make yourself read books with bad covers. Maybe it will help change your mind about them, like your contemporary month did. I'll pick out a nice animal cover for you ;).

    3. OH MY GOODNESS, I love the ugly cover idea!!! I love it! I can think of several right off the top of my head! OHHH that would be fun.

      PENCILS: I always use pencils because I can ERASE. With pens, I'd have to scribble, and that is ugly. Especially on a calendar. Sidenote: I have recently within the last few months found out that I am a "loser" because I still use a paper calendar. I am very quirky about my calendars, which should not surprise you. I have several. That's all you need to know about that. :) But yes, pencils. Erases, no scribbles.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...