[Review] I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch

★☆☆☆☆

LGBT+ | Contemporary | Young Adult

Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other.

Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator’s block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.

They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other…a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?

This advanced copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest opinion.

This was a disappointment.

So we start with very strong enemies and we are to end with a couple of lovers, right? And we expect to see growth from the characters, them learning to work or be together in peace while on their real-life personas before they meet, right? Well, we don’t get that here.

This is mostly a rant because I disliked this book so much, and I held out hope that it was going to get better later and by the time I accepted its fate, it was too late to just stop. My rage and spite made me finish this book just to see everything come down.

The book just revolved around their rivalry and past issues, and I don’t even remember a moment where I had thought “oh, I want them to be together”. It just didn’t evoke that kind of feeling. It was just toxic. At first, I thought it was just setting up their relationship dynamic, but it just kept going and I had to keep going back to Goodreads to make sure this was a romance and I was not hallucinating. Even with their online personas, their relationship was full of miscommunication and codependency.

The codependency was not only with Rhodes and Iliana but with their shared friend (I don’t even remember her name, Sara I believe?). First, they share her like two divorced parents trying to win their child, only because that would make the other mad. They’re not even good friends! They suck as people, to be honest.

I think Rhodes was more likable than Iliana, mostly because her behavior is somewhat “excused” because of her mental health. This is some bullshit, but I found myself relating a little bit to some of her reasonings. With Iliana, she was just so… abrasive? Explosive? She had the mentality that she can run her mouth and attitude on anyone and they just have to deal with it. I admire this to some extent, but most of the time she just came off as an asshole.

Things start getting better when one of them discovers the other’s identity, while also crushing that person’s heart. They take a little time to come back, but they get a little close before the big reveal is made in a way that none of them would have liked. And then, after some apologies and time, they start dating.

Which I know is the point of the story, to have them date at the end. But that was so out of left field, considering everything that happened and how their relationship had just been going downhill for quite a while. Honestly, I would have preferred it if it had ended with them at the beginning of a nice friendship with some hopeful tones for a future romantic relationship.

The way it ended it was just a big no for me. Just why?

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