Goodreads Book Blurb:
Can a reality star princess transform the boy-next-door into her Cinnamon Roll Prince?
Dakota McDonald swore after “The Great Homecoming Disaster” that she’d never allow her romantic life to be a plot line in her parents’ HGTV show again. But when the restaurant run by the family of her best friend (and secret crush), Leo, is on the line, Dakota might end up eating her own words.
Leo Matsuda dreams of escaping the suffocating demands of working in his family’s restaurant, but the closer he gets to his goal—thanks to the help of his best friend (and secret crush) Dakota—the more reasons there are for him to stay.
***Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Faking Reality, but I was ultimately disappointed. Full of expected tropes, it was not the unique YA contemporary romance promised, and it sorely lacked any depth or character development to at least make it enjoyable.
There were moments when Dakota was an interesting protagonist; she was honest with her emotions and had a unique family dynamic, especially with the reality tv filming. But unfortunately, it felt like none of her projects ever played out fully and even the whole reality tv thing was never really explained. It seems pretty unlikely that a reality show on HGTV would be so popular for over a decade that it would inspire SNL skits…
I can understand why Dakota was in love with Leo – they’ve grown up together. With her unusual family and celebrity, it makes sense she would be interested in the most stable, normal person in her life. However, Leo is kind of a jerk, and their relationship ends up being pretty unhealthy. Even when he knows how Dakota feels about him, he’s not shy with the romantic PDA in front of her with no care for how it would make her feel. He can’t stand her being interested in anyone else but has no desire to be with her. And as soon as Leo starts dating Lindsay and Dakota starts dating Alex, I just felt bad for Lindsay and Alex. There was no attempt to develop these characters or relationships, and it was clear they were just there to cause drama until Leo realised he was *gasp* interested in Dakota.
I did appreciate the Japanese elements in the narrative; they felt authentic and added a much-needed dose of realism in a very unrealistic story. The scenes in Leo’s family’s restaurant were the most enjoyable to read.
The more time passes, and the more I think about it, I can’t seem to figure out the point of Faking Reality. If this had been about two friends overcoming feelings to remain friends, or two childhood friends falling for each other, it would have felt more contemporary and less expected. But, instead, the dependence on tropes led to a predictable and unnecessary story.
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