Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia


The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan)
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

What I Liked:

Confession time - I've not read any of Garcia's books. This is my first. I know she has several different series published, but none of them appealed to me. This book did, because it seemed like the kind of YA contemporary that I love, filled with romance and falling in love. There were those aspects, and so much more. I'm happy to say that I really liked this novel. 

Frankie's boyfriend was killed recently, and she hasn't been able to fill that void. She has PTSD from what she saw (in terms of how he died), and she's been so different than she was before he died. One costly mistake and her mother sends her to live with her father. Frankie's dad is an undercover cop, living in the Downs (think of the Downs as a "rougher" part of town). Gone is Frankie's life in a trust-fund prep school. The teens at the Downs are more interested in cars, street races, and gambling. Marco Leone, a student at the high school, is a street racer, a tattooed, cocky boy who isn't afraid of a fight. He's exactly what old Frankie would avoid, but new Frankie finds him irresistible. But his secrets could cost Frankie everything. Is he worth it?

This contemporary novel reminded me of Katie McGarry's books. I've seen it compared to Simone Elkeles's books too, but I haven't read enough of her books to draw that comparison. McGarry's books are hit or miss for me, but I liked some of them and I liked Garcia's. We have the rich girl fallen from grace (so to speak), and a rough and tumble boy from the wrong side of town. I really like this trope.

Frankie has so much going on in her life - her boyfriend was killed in front of her, her mother is practically an emotionless robot, her stepfather is a royal pain in the butt, her father is an overbearing, overprotective cop. In the beginning, it seems like Frankie has given up on herself - she doesn't care about piano (she's really good and has played for years), or Stanford, or school. A DUI and being sent to live with her father and attend a public high school while doing community service? Frankie welcomes the change.

She meets Marco on her first day. Marco seems off-limits in a rough, bad-boy way. He has tattoos and a cocky, confident air about him. He loves cars and has a hint of danger around him. But Frankie begins to peel back Marco's layers. He takes care of his little sister, who was badly hurt years ago. He street races for reasons that have to do with awful circumstances that aren't his fault. Marco was once a genius AP student, not a boy who gets suspended for fighting and illegally street races. Marco is a good person, a sensitive and swoony and romantic guy, and I liked him a lot.

It seemed like every single character in this book had their own "tough issues" to deal with. I already talked about Frankie, and Marco. Lex, Frankie's friend, has a rich mother who is never around except to go to charity galas and publicity events. Abel, another friend of Frankie's, is the son of a rock star who committed suicide fairly recently. Marco's sister Sofia was in a terrible car accident years ago. Marco and Sofia's father is in jail, their mother dead from cancer. There was so much going on in terms of "tough issues", with every character. Sometimes it was a little overwhelming. But it was interesting to see how these events shaped each character.

This book is definitely about Frankie's healing, putting herself back together after Noah's death. She and Noah knew each other since they were little. They were dating, but their love wasn't the attraction love, like she felt for Marco. Frankie learns a lot about herself, and overcomes much.

The romance! So sweet. Generally, YA contemporary isn't my thing, unless there is a lot of romance. This book had a lot of swoony moments. I loved Marco, and I really connected with Frankie. Frankie and I are very different, yet I could connect with her easily. These two are fire together! Chemistry right from the start, and lots of good build-up. I see other readers complaining about insta-love, and I get it. I thought the I-love-you's were thrown out there pretty quickly. But I also loved the romance, so maybe I was able to look past that.

The climax is a bit scary, and nail-biting-worthy! There is no easy way out, for Marco, and therefore, for Frankie. I think Garcia did the ending justice. It's a happy ending, but there is a touch of bittersweetness to it (let's pretend that's a word). It's a satisfying ending though, with many questions answered. I would read companion books if this were a series!

What I Did Not Like:

I can see why some people are complaining about insta-love. Chemistry and insta-lust, I understand and don't mind. Insta-love... it's definitely a thing in this book. But I liked the progression of the romance, at the same time. 

I don't really have any other complaints, beyond that one! And that one isn't really that major.

Would I Recommend It:

This book is definitely for fans of Katie McGarry, and probably Simone Elkeles! I've read many of McGarry's books and while some didn't work for me, a few did, so I feel good about comparing this book for McGarry's books. I love the rich, innocent girl meets cocky, bad boy trope, and it really works in this story.

Rating:

4 stars. This is a sweet and yet heartbreaking story! I would love to read companion novels about secondary characters, especially since several characters' stories went unresolved (in my opinion). Well done on your contemporary debut, Garcia!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

24 comments:

  1. Hmmm, I must confess I had discounted this one right away from the very beginning, the title really put me off for some reason, but now reading your review I feel like I might give it a try, even more since it's a standalone...

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    1. I know exactly what you mean! I didn't like the title before reading the book, but it made sense after reading it. ^_^

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  2. This is a great review and I have heard good things about this book previously too although I haven't had any luck with Garcia's other books ***ducking and hiding from Beautiful Creatures fans***. I'm definitely going to give this one a chance when I can!

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    1. Thank you! Di, I haven't even read any of Garcia's other fans! *hides under a rock* I hope you enjoy this one. =)

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  3. I'm not normally one for YA contemporary with the exception of certain authors so I didn't think much of this one, but I typically enjoy McGarry so I would probably enjoy this one too. I may have to check it out. Great review!

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    1. Whaaaaaaaat, really? I am the same way but for some reason, I always thought you were a contemporary person (maybe adult contemporary?). I hope you like this one if you read it, Teresa! <3

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  4. I didn't enjoy her Beautiful Creatures, but I read one of her other books and it was okay.I have this one on my library wish list so when it becomes available I'll borrow it. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I might not ever read that series, or her Unbreakable series, but this book was totally worth it. I hope you like it if you read it, Lekeisha! ^_^

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  5. I need to someday branch out and read more of Kami's solo books---I mostly know her work from the Beautiful Creatures books and I did read her Unbreakable, which I really enjoyed. I don't read much contemp and I've actually never read the two authors you compare this to, but I do love a sweet romance (even with a touch of instalove) and her story of grief and PTSD sounds interesting and heartwrenching. Great review, Alyssa!

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    1. This was one of those books that is soooo swoony and romance-filled (yay) but with good treatment of and attention to tough issues (like PTSD). Very well written!

      Thank you, Becky. :D

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  6. I might have to give this one a try. I'm like Lekeisha, I didn't like Beautiful Creatures so I would have probably given this a pass without your review.

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    1. It's probably very different from that Beautiful Creatures series! And hey, it's a standalone, so there is low commitment, amirite? ;)

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  7. I've been eyeballing this one. When I think street racer I think Paul Walker and swoon. lol

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  8. Oh boy...insta love. Sometimes I hate it and sometimes I don't mind it depending on how it's done. I'm sill intrigued by this one so I'll have to give it a shot some time. Terrific review!

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    1. The insta-love wasn't bad but it was so THERE. Still, I loved all the sparks and swoons. :D

      Thank you, Erin!

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  9. Oh my God! I really thought this was a Katie McGarry book when I read the synopsis the first time! I didn't see the cover, so I had no idea it was Kami. I read one of her books, but I didn't like it.
    I'm a bit worried about the insta-love part. That's something I hate even more than love triangles...
    I'm so glad you enjoyed it, I hope I can read it one day!

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    1. RIGHT?! It definitely seems like McGarry's style! This book was different in its own way.

      Like I said to Erin, there was insta-love, but I liked the sparks and swoons. Insta-love that worked, kind of.

      Thank you, Lis!

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  10. Ohh great review Alyssa I haven't read any books by Garcia as well but I have heard great things about her books. And I absolutely love the troupe in this book too. I just know I will love and enjoy Garcia books! Thank you for the awesome post Alyssa.

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    1. This is a good place to start! I admit, her previous books don't interest me. But this one was great!

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  11. Eee, yay for enjoying this book so much :D Gorgeous review Alyssa. Yaaay for sweet romance. <3 I have this one. And now I'm more excited about reading it, lol :)

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    1. It was so sweet! And swoony too. I hope you enjoy the book, Carina!

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  12. Fan of Elkeles and McGarry! You can't see me, but I'm raising my hand right now :) Glad you liked a contemporary.

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    1. YAAAASSS! I hope you read this one, Liza!

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