Jan 19, 2017

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publishing Date: January 31, 2017
Pages/Format: 352, eARC
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In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Book in One Word: Disappointing

By Your Side was set to be the most perfect fluffy contemporary in all the land. I mean, two teens get stuck in a library together for a whole weekendAnd it's by the one and only Kasie West. How could it not be the most perfect fluffy contemporary in all the land? Especially when I picked it up after finishing a certain book about crooked crows and By Your Side was exactly the kind of book I needed to read right then. So tell me: why (hell, how) don't I want to keep this book close to my side?

This was...not what I had expected. At all. It's just...gah. At its core, By Your Side is a solid concept with a buttload of potential, but it's all missed. I don't know how much the finished copy will differ from the eARC I read, but what I did read? It felt like a very early draft. Like someone was all, "We need something to put in the ARC! Give us whatever you have!" What I read seemed incomplete and like it still needed a lot of work. So much of the content in By Your Side could really go somewhere--but it didn't. And that's such a shame.

I'm going to warn you: don't go into this book thinking you're getting a story about two teens stuck in a library together for a weekend. Because you will be sorely disappointed. The majority of the story doesn't even take place in the library, and what does isn't even that noteworthy. Honestly, Autumn and Dax should've BURNED THE LIBRARY DOWN with the amount of sexual tension that should've been tensing between them while they were stuck in that library. Instead they watched TV, played random games, scrounged for coins for the snack machine, chose to stay away from each other, and didn't even share a sleeping bag when they slept. Do you have ANY IDEA how much romantic, shippy potential there is when two people are stuck in a library? THERE IS SO, SO MUCH POTENTIAL. And it was so, so tragically missed.

When I think of a Kasie West novel I think of that part in Despicable Me where the little girl gets the stuffed animal and basically growls "IT'S SO FLUFFY." That's a Kasie West contemporary in a nutshell. And while By Your Side certainly had some fluff, it also had quite a bit of angst--which I super don't mind. The problem is that the angst is barely there when it should've been making rain to bring this fluff parade down a bit more. I won't say what all the angst is because of spoilers, but for starters we've got somebody in the foster care system and another character with anxiety. For the most part those things were just glanced over, and that's just a shame because, again: POTENTIAL. Especially the anxiety, which I found to be very, very relatable. And there were these other plot points on the side that just didn't make sense and were kind of lackluster and broke the focus of the story. Don't use angst if you're not going to develop it and make it more like some random anecdote; make me feel it.

All that said and done, I didn't really dislike By Your Side--it's just my least favorite West novel and I found it to be rather disappointing. I should be all "YES I LOVED IT." Instead, when I talk about it I'm just like "Uhhh, well..." I just expected more, and, well...better, I guess? By Your Side was just full of so, so, so much potential, and it was all just skimmed. Do I want a chocolate chip cookie with one chocolate chip? No! I want a chocolate chip cookie with like all the chocolate chips. You've got two teens stuck in a library together for a weekend--what could possibly be the greatest sexual tension story of all time--foster care, anxiety, angst, and fluff, all in a book that didn't feel quite finished, and it's all just barely there. You either go big or you go home, and I just happen to prefer it when books go big.

Did I like it? Yes...
Did I love it? Nope.
Would I reread it? I may give this--and a finished copy--another try.
Would I purchase it? I mean, I want to own all of Kasie West's books, but this isn't my greatest priority.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of FLUFFY contemporaries, a hint of angst, and what could potentially be the greatest (sexual tension-filled) love story of all time.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I feel like I may be the only one to really love this novel. haha I am a big fan of all of Kasie West's books. I actually liked this one because it was different than her other books and not just all about the swoony cutesy moments. I also am a huge book nerd, so I found it interesting that Autumn wasn't, therefore making the whole stuck in the library thing a little different than what I was expecting, but for me not in a bad way. I liked this one a lot, although it isn't my all time favorite. *shrugs shoulders* I see where you are coming from though. :)

  2. I recently read West's P.S. I Like You novel and fell in love with it. I'd hoped this one would be fluffy to but I'm still hoping to like it. Great review!

    -Jordan @jordansjewels.wordpress.com


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