new years are so weird.
there’s all this anticipation and excitement and fireworks. and then it’s the first of january. and then it’s the seventh. and like, it’s just,, gone. no more firecrackers. no more remembering resolutions. no more freaking out (ok so maybe that last part’s a lie. we’re humans. freaking out is what keeps us breathing)
you get this one chance to do everything RIGHT this year and if you blow it, it’s going to STAY blown up for the next 365 days. AND THAT’S SO DUMB, DUDE. i only get this one chance to get every single square green on all my coding sites. i only get one chance to say i’ve read a thing once every 24 hours for a total of 365 consecutive days and won at life like that. i get just the one chance to reach my over-ambitious goodreads reading goal for the year. because if i start off behind in january, i’m going to go down burning underneath the weight of my own tears in december.
but don’t they also say that progress is progress is progress is progress is progress? and all that seems tremendously controversial to me.
moral of anoushka’s little sleep deprivation-fueled rant is that the first of january is overrated and we’re officially giving up believing in it. (by which i mean new years’)
but i did also read an entire book in the first three days of january which is slightly insane. because looking at how things went down in december (i read a total of four books, three of them were rereads etc etc) we’d all assumed i’d read maybe a grand total of 1 by the time the 31st rolled around. BUT SO FAR I’VE READ TWO, MISSED THE ENTIRETY OF MY POSTING SCHEDULE AND FORGOTTEN TO UPDATE MY DAILY PROGRESS ON ALL AFOREMENTIONED CODING SITES, so i think i’m at a small but hard-earned 1/3 on my top goals count right now. (but what’s sad is that i’m FOREVER going to remain at a maximum score of 1/3 on my 2024 yearly goals whether i manage to over-achieve them by the time december rolls around or fail them all entirely. IT’S MEAN HOW I DON’T GET A DO OVER)
i have this three-year streak of sorts. every single first-book i’ve read since 2022 has been a contemporary. but specifically, a contemporary-that-anoushka-enjoyed (which is a pretty rare occurrence, if the world decides to be honest) contemporaries and me are on tough ground on the best of days. IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE TOO SWEET AND LIFE-Y, I DON’T WANT YOU, goes anoushka. BUT MY ONLY GOAL IN LIFE IS TO TELL THIS STORY ABOUT TWO KIDS FALLING IN LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME AND THE SECOND TIME AND ALSO THE THIRD OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, goes the contemporary.
we aren’t on the best of terms like that. but the first contemporary (and also book. contemporaries are books. and so are fantasies) i’ve ever read on the first of january of every single year since 2022 came around has been a phenomenal success (which is to say, THE CONTEMPORARIES HAVE BEEN DECENT and we’ve all managed to have proper conversations while keeping our knives and our tempers to ourselves)
and then 2024 came around. and i read a contemporary again. AND IT TURNED OUT TO BE FUN.
the upside of falling is about two high school seniors (narrated in dual pov, characters that are complete opposites, all the shenanigans) who end up very spontaneously fake-dating (no look. it’s ACTUALLY very spontaneous. and kind of out of nowhere, if you’re the characters) but then accidentally fall in love (BECAUSE WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT RIGHT)
meet becca. she’s the anti-social booknerd who spends lunches inhaling stories instead of sandwiches and goes on rambles about how atoms and molecules build stuff and therefore keep families from falling apart. (SHE’S AMAZING)
and then there’s brett. he’s the rich famous kid, captain of the football team, and in need of a pretend girlfriend to impress his dad.
this book is the story of what happens when they start fake dating after an overheard conversation in the hallway. and accidentally find themselves falling in love.
she steals cupcakes and eats too many books and falls in love with them. she takes stories along to football games and picnics and the broken-down arcade. she talks about walls that look like someone grabbed a handful of the sky and threw it everywhere and about books being real life but without the heartbreak. she’s dramatic and loves every single color in the rainbow.
her chapters have so many cakes and muffins and SWEET THINGS. and her mum owns A BAKERY. talk about living the dream okay. there’s so many scenes sprinkled in where becca works there and this one in particular when she takes along a calculus textbook and it’s all so NICE. bakeries are amazing and i want to work in one someday and spread out flyers and eat cupcakes everyday and study at cash counters during the breaks in the evening rush too okay. BECAUSE THAT SOUNDS SO FUN GOSHDARNIT.
it’s chapters are some of the most hilarious things in existence. and i cackled.
especially the ones becca narrates (ok ONLY the ones becca narrates. i’m loyal. and maybe prejudiced against the other kid (he has no personality. i hate people who have no personality) BUT LET’S GO WITH LOYAL). every single sentence is such a fun time, whether we’re dissecting the many marketing scams of romance books, or going on unplanned walks down her shitty father’s street, or talking about the life-changing powers of a cupcake. I LOVE IT ALL, UNIVERSE. I LOVE IT ALL SO SO MUCH.
also some parts of it were ridiculously beautiful and kind of made me want to sob.
all the ones where she talks about her dad leaving. when she hides behind a bush and watches him with his new family, wondering about why he let their old one break. when she says “it’s not our fault for not giving them a reason to stay. it’s their fault for not finding one” and “i hoped they’d never have to hide behind a bush and watch their father love his new family the way he couldn’t love his old one”. SHE NEEDS A HUG. I NEED TO GIVE ONE TO HER.
THERE IS SO MUCH UNAPOLOGETIC ROMEO AND JULIET BASHING. (i’m here ok? i’m LISTENING and i freaking love you for it)
dude you don’t get it. i have SO MANY highlights, my kindle is a second away from exploding. (not really. she’s way stronger than that. but exaggeration amirite) I’VE FINALLY MET SOMEONE WHO HATES THE PLAY AS MUCH AS I DO AND GOSH I’M SO HAPPY.
like there’s this one point in time where she says “that’s why they died, because they were naive enough to think their love could end a war”. i’ve honest to goodness never had someone conjure up such an accurate version of my thoughts. IT’S AMAZING.
brett has no personality except for being the most popular kid in the entire school (but this makes no sense to me. THE DUDE ISN’T EVEN INTERESTING) and he narrates like one-half of the book which very much sucked. I DON’T LIKE BRETT.
dude has no personality (except for being like a dumbass or whatever) (there’s a third-act breakup and brett’s responsible and like A) i actually happen to care enough about becca to get casually and/or will-carry-around-knives-and-hunt-you-for-life-and-bash-you-infront-of-every-person-i-ever-see levels of mad and B) THAT WAS HIS DUMBEST MOMENT AND HE’S HAD A LOT OF DUMB ONES? which is pretty insane, even for him) plus he’s also just generally boring (would-never-bother-having-a-conversation-with-him-even-if-it-saved-my-life levels of boring) (NO THAT’S ACTUALLY NOT TRUE I LOVE MY LIFE TOO MUCH, but you get the point ok. maybe more along the lines of could-never-truthfully-declare-a-conversation-with-him-interesting-even-if-accepting-it-saved-my-life) (ok i’ll STOP NOW) his entire narration goes like: “this happened and then this happened and then that happened and now we’re in the present.” which, in hindsight, sounds a little bit like kavi, BUT TRUST ME, IT WASN’T. HE TOLD IT ALL LIKE A SERIES OF EVENTS THAT WAS HIS LIFE AND LEFT OUT ALL THE FUN LITTLE DETAILS OF SCREAMING FLIES AND ICE CREAM TRUCKS in stark contrast to becca’s constant fabulous chattering and all the book talk, which kind of made it worse (YOU DO NOT GIVE A CHILD AN ICE-CREAM-DINNER FOLLOWED BY DIRT FOR DESSERT, COMPULSORY TO EAT IF YOU WANT THE NEXT MEAL GIVEN. THEY CALL IT CRUELTY)
although i did like all the scenes where he’s being a total idiot and subtly falling in love with becca and lovingly talking about how much she sucks at car racing games and that time when she killed all the fake people and ran a couple mail-boxes flat. I LAUGHED AT THAT.
the my-heart-is-broken-and-i’m-throwing-all-my-books-into-the-river scene that kind of broke me. TEARING UP BOOKS AND TOSSING THEM IN THE WATER LIKE THAT (when you could have just given them to me instead YOU DIMWIT) WAS PHYSICALLY PAINFUL TO READ ABOUT OKAY
no because dude that is such a waste of fabulous trees and pretty little life-giving words for a kid who doesn’t even have a personality WHY WOULD YOU EVER DO THAT (dumb. people are so dumb)
to top it all off, character in action in scene the-book-throwing-present was becca which SUCKS OKAY. SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE GOOD ONE OVER HERE. (although, if it were brett, we’d probably have been compelled to resort to murder and i hear they have no libraries in prison. so maybe this is a good thing)
(I FRICKIN SWEAR TO GOD IF I EVER SAW ANYONE DOING THIS IN REAL LIFE I WOULD MURDER YOU IN COLD BLOOD CONSEQUENCES BE DAMNED)
maybe fake dating isn’t really my thang.
ok so listen. i’ve read SO MANY BOOKS with the fake dating trope. i’ve screamed SO MANY TIMES in the comments sections of book-posts. i’ve lied for YEARS about loving fake dating. but i’m coming to realize. THAT MAYBE I DON’T? the idea of it sounds so EXHAUSTING and terrible AND WHAT IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY BLURT THE TRUTH OUT OKAY. it has the potential to get SO awkward so fast. IT’S TERRIBLE. WHY DO PEOPLE EVEN DO THIS.
but fake dating in this book specifically also wasn’t my thang. for one, IT STARTS OUT SO WEIRD AND OUT OF NOWHERE. becca’s being confronted by an ex-best-friend about not ever having had a boyfriend (i mean?? dude?? JOBLESS, MUCH?) and she lies about having one. friend asks for names. brett very conveniently arrives at the scene at this exact opportune moment and screams ‘ME’. the two idiots start fake dating.
it all made me go very awkward-AHAHAHAHHA because WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED THERE?? kid materialized out of thin air?? BROKE ALL SENSE OF PERSONAL BOUNDARIES?? idk man.
there were so many scenes that had no purpose except to very conveniently further the plot WHICH KIND OF ANNOYED ME.
LIKE AFOREMENTIONED THIS-IS-HOW-WE-STARTED-FAKE-DATING SCENE.
or this one part where they go to a party in the woods and stay for about 5 minutes before ditching to go get milkshakes. (this happens right before a huge reveal so it’s like,,, anyone with half a brain could figure out that was the whole purpose of conjuring up a party in the first place and it’s SO OBVIOUS oh my GOSH)
the entire book’s so focused on getting people to fall in love with the two main characters (and them with each other because the universe works in a cyclic manner or whatever) that the rest of the world is portrayed as this little blurry screen that’s presented for the sole purpose of setting a story (because you obviously couldn’t have two sixteen-year-olds living all alone in the big wide woods beyond the earth on their own okay) (unless you were writing like a science fiction or something. and if you did it like that, you’d end up with another these broken stars that no one wants to read. SO I SUGGEST YOU DON’T DO IT) the side characters were on-screen for such short durations i couldn’t even tell you their names anymore, FORGET ABOUT PERSONALITIES (mostly because they had none to speak of) AND WHAT THEY ACTUALLY DID FOR A LIVING (or something like that? most of the kids were high schoolers so maybe ‘for a living’ isn’t the most accurate term, but the sentiment remains)
so it sucks like that.
would rate somewhere between 2 and 2.5 stars. would not read again. would recommend based on person. WOULD totally be up for conversation (i have a perfect track record of never ever ever shutting up when the conversation in question is about books. so start one AT YOUR OWN RISK)
but this was fun and i guess that’s good enough! (by which i mean not having the first review i write for the year be a rant that tarnishes my reputation and sets all the next books up for disappointment) (i have no idea what that was supposed to mean either. maybe we’ll just decide to companionably ignore)
what’s the first book you ever read in 2024? AND WAS IT GOOD OR WAS IT TRASH OR WAS IT BAD OR MAGIC OR MADNESS? have you ever read alex light’s the upside of falling or thought about what the upside of something like that might entail (i’m thinking nothing because as a general rule, falling sucks. BUT YOU DO YOU, KID) and if yes, WHAT DID YOU THINK?