Monday 1 December 2014

The Boy Next Door - Meg Cabot

Title: The Boy Next Door
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Published: 2002
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“The Boy Next Door” by Mel Fuller is a book I picked up to meet the Romantic Comedy requirements of the 2014 Eclectic Reader Challenge. Romantic Comedy is not something that I would normally read but I have read some such as the Bridget Jones novels so I wasn’t worried about reading this genre for the challenge. I actually ended up picking this novel as it was told completely via emails between the characters which sounded rather interesting.

The story follows Melissa Fuller, a gossip columnist for the New York Journal whose elderly neighbour has an “accident” which results in Mel having to take care of her pets whilst she lies in a coma. The neighbour’s only living relative is a self-centred photographer called Max who is too busy vacationing with a supermodel to bother coming back to New York for his Aunt. So he calls in a favour from his old friend, John. John is coerced into impersonating Max until the Aunt recovers, thus securing Max's inheritance. However when John moves in next door to Mel, they quickly fall for each other and soon John is left trying to work out how to tell Mel the truth.

This book isn’t complex, deep or heavy but it is a fun and easy read that had me smiling in several places. It is without doubt the quintessential beach read, something you can lie back in the sun and read without having to strain the synapses. I also laughed multiple times throughout the book as the interactions between the characters are at times quite hilarious. I especially loved the interactions between John and his sister-in-law Stacy.

The fact that story is told via emails was actually quite intriguing and amusing to see although I suspect that if I read another book in the same style it wouldn’t interest me as much as the novelty would be gone. The only real issue I had with the format is that at times it felt a little bit silly to me in that they said so much via email rather than talking face to face but if they did this we would of course have lost half the story. A final interesting point I noted in regards to using technology like this to tell the story is that it highlights the age of the novel. As it was written in 2002 the characters are using dial-up and can’t talk at the same time as emailing each other which did make me smile as I remembered the “good old days”.

The only real issue I had with the story is that the characters on the whole seemed to act in a rather silly and childish manner. They are meant to be young professionals with jobs, experience and intellect yet most of the time they come across as either immature or just plain stupid. I have since discovered that Meg Cabot has written a lot of YA novels so maybe this use of childish characters stems from this although I think even teenagers would behave in a more grown up manner that what we see with these characters.

Overall, this was an amusing story which I found incredibly easy to read. Some people may find the email format of the narrative rather annoying but I enjoyed the novelty of it. The real weakness of the story is the characters who were all rather immature but their at times quite hilarious interactions did ensure that I still enjoyed the novel. So if you are looking for a light, fun romantic comedy in the same vein as Bridget Jones then I think you might quite enjoy this novel.


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