*This is a book review of Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter.
Author: Lynn Painter
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Main Characters: Liz Buxbaum & Wes Bennett
Number of Pages: 384
SJ Rating: 85%
Liz Buxbaum has lived next to the incorrigibly annoying Wes Bennett for as long as she can remember and has always labeled him as her annoying neighbor. When an elementary love returns, Liz enlists the help of Wes to get Michael’s (the aforementioned elementary love) attention to achieve her dream of the perfect prom. This all happens while Liz battles a major transition in her life and has to face both the trials of the past and what she considers the downfalls of the present.
First and foremost, I love love love that the author starts each chapter with a quote from well-known romcoms, most of which I’ve seen. She quoted 10 Things I Hate About You on chapter four, which is my favorite movie, and I think my soul momentarily left my body out of pure joy.
On top of the movie quotes, there are a ton of references to pop culture, from Bazzi to Helen Hoang (who kind of blew up on BookTok during the pandemic). Like, she mentions, in decent detail, the moment “Lovers” by Anna of the North plays in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Speaking of music (well, sorta), I feel like the author is a movie soundtrack critic on the side or something because she wrote those aspects of the book beautifully. Her breaking down the Remember the Titans soundtrack made me want to watch Remember the Titans.
Keeping up with the music talk (because it was kind of a big part of this book), Liz picks a lot of pop songs for her real life soundtracks, and her decisions on the songs all seem lyric-based. As I’ve listened to my music during the duration of finishing this book, I’ve come to realize I mostly listen to pop because of the lyrics and relatability–not necessarily the sound.
Liz is every single hopeless romantic to exist, including me… and that’s probably the only thing I like about her.
However, Wes is the best thing about this book, and he is truly swoon-worthy. Like, there were a couple of moments where I was a little flustered.
Very random, but I loved the Scooter’s Coffee mention. It’s my favorite place to go for a strawberry banana cream smoothie.
I love anything yellow (because my copy was yellow), but this book is definitely not better than the movies.
This book is heavily lacking in character descriptions, which made several aspects of the book hard to imagine.
The ending was a bit of a let down. It feels like the stereotypical use of “Just shut up and kiss me” wasn’t necessary when it was used. Also, I extremely disliked that “Cue the Bazzi” were the last words of this love story. While reading the sad progression of the ending, all I could think about was the milkshake she left in her car.
However, I was happy there is an epilogue, which does come after the unfortunate “Cue the Bazzi.”
Of course, the book is incredibly predictable. At page thirty-three, you can tell Wes was doing all he could to get Liz’s attention; he wasn’t only interested in making her angry. She was just too dense to see it, to the point where I had to put the book down because I was getting irritated with her.
Though this book was incredibly cliché, I had a hard time putting it down. It felt like a Wattpad book that skipped the process of being on Wattpad to eventually become a published book.
All in all, this book showed me I need the 25-year-old version of Wes Bennett in my life as soon as humanly possible.
Next book to be read and reviewed: The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo
“It seemed to me that because of things like car accidents and lost loves, life and death and broken hearts, we should grab every moment and absolutely devour the good parts.”– Liz Buxbaum