Review: The Fine Art of Truth Or Dare by Melissa Jensen

The Fine Art of Truth or DareThe Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

Paperback, 380 pages
Published February 16th 2012 by Speak

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

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The synopsis doesn't give much away about the storyline, so I really had no idea what to expect when I started reading The Fine Art of Truth or Dare. I did like reading this book, but there was nothing really special about it. I found it to be cute and sweet, with a bit of drama thrown in at times. It's more of a coming of age story, and about learning to accept yourself and your flaws. The writing itself is good, but the storyline moves along in spurts (there were a few times that I found myself wanting to skim over the boring parts.)

This book just has waaaay too many things that I didn't like. Such as:

1. Cliche characters that are often used in YA books. Protagonist is actually very pretty but doesn't believe it. Best friends - one is the 'quirky girl', the other is the dramatically gay boy. And we also get the way-too-good-looking-and-rich-and-why-would-he-ever-want-to-be-with-me boy as a love interest.

2. Way too much Italian and French and not all of it is translated, so I have no idea what it all meant.

3. Parts of this book just go on and on and there are parts that are really meaningless to the storyline. It felt like these things were there just to add more pages to the book.

4. I still don't know why Alex was interested in Ella. Sorry, but this romance just fell so short.

5. The Truth or Dare part of the storyline - not enough of it, AND it was all meaningless. No big truthful revelations. No big dares that have any consequences. It was just a silly game between friends to pass the time. Very disappointing.

From the start of this book we know that Ella has a large scar on her neck/shoulder/chest from being burned by hot liquid when she was younger. She is very self-conscious and keeps the scar covered at all times. Ella also has a huge fangirl crush on a long-dead artist named Edward Willing. She is planning her honors thesis on Edward, so she spends a lot of time in this book wrapped up in her research. Throughout the book she often has conversations with a postcard of Edward. I actually enjoyed Edward's voice of reason.

I was really hoping to read a good love story, but it was really just a lame relationship story. Ella had such a crush on cute, rich, amazing Alex. They are suddenly on 'friendly' terms when their French teacher suggests that Alex tutor Ella. From there they have a few study dates, and then they actually 'date' - only it's a secret from their friends. This goes on for a few weeks - Alex barely acknowledges her at school, and she doesn't tell her friends because they don't like Alex. I really hated all of the secret dating crap - Ella assumes Alex is ashamed of her scar and her lower social status. Alex tries to assure her that he just doesn't want to throw their relationship in his ex-girlfriends face. Uh-huh. Right. Then Alex has the nerve to tell Ella it's all her fault that their relationship is not okay because she is so insecure about herself. There is even one scene where Ella gets up enough nerve to take off her top and show Alex her scar, and he tells her that it is exhausting to always be reassuring her and it takes all the satisfaction out of telling her how he feels. That pretty much did it for me - Alex never redeemed himself to me after that. Then, just when you think that the relationship may have a chance in hell of working out, the book ends.

Oh, my last gripe about this book - not nearly enough Daniel. I loved Daniel, what little there was of him. I still have no idea why he was in the book, but I kept reading in an attempt to get more of him.

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
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  1. I've read some not-so positive reviews of this book and yours just convinced me that I need to push this down lower in my tbr pile. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is why I sometimes have a hard time with YA contemporary. If it's too fluffy, it just doesn't feel like there is any substance and I run out of reasons why I should read it...

  3. I read this book a few weeks ago, and I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who didn't like it that much. Thanks for the great review. (:

  4. Sounds really disappointing! Great review though.


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