Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West


By Your Side by Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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?

What I Liked:

Kasie West does it again! This is the seventh novel of hers that I've read, and I enjoyed it. I can always rely on West to deliver a cute, swoony, uplifting, and meaningful story. I love how she tackles certain "tough issues", and yet captivates readers with likable characters and a beautiful story. Suffice it to say, I'm addicted!

It's Friday evenning, and Autumn and her friends had just finished up working on a big paper. They decide to leave the library and go to a bonfire. With a huge group and four different cars, it can get confusing. Autumn doubles back to the library to use the bathroom, leaving her bag and belongings in her crush's car. But when she is finished and goes to leave the library, she realizes that the library is locked down and closed. What's more, her friends are gone. And it's snowing. And it's the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day... which means she's going to be stuck in the library for three days. No phone, no service, no computer, nothing. She quickly finds out that Dax Miller, a loner who has trouble written all over him, is locked in as well. He's closed off and a boy of few words, but Autumn cracks his exterior as the weekend goes on. They survive the weekend together - but can they survive the aftermath?

Autumn is as wonderful as any of West's other female protagonists. She has quick wit and she's funny. But she's also a little awkward and clumsy, and she suffers from anxiety. She gets panic attacks, and she doesn't want any of her friends to know. While she's in the library, she has panic attacks, and she tells Dax. Autumn really cares about what others think of her, which is why she hasn't told any of her friends about her condition. Autumn is sweet and genuine, and she's also relentless. She is determined to make nice with Dax while they're stuck in the library,

Dax is... at first, a mystery. He has a reputation for being trouble; he spent time in juvie, and he lives with foster parents. People say he's a criminal (he's not), a druggie (he's not), a loner (that, he is). He keeps to himself and opens up to no one... but Autumn gets to him. He reveals why he's in the library, and a lot more. Dax is probably the most "troubled" of any of West's male protagonists, with the most difficult past/present. He seems closed off and emotionless, but he's a very considerate and chivalrous guy, and he's straightforward.

Contrary to what I originally thought, this book does not take place entirely in the library during that three-day weekend. Half of the book is spent in the library with just Dax and Autumn, and the other half is spent in the "after". What happens when Dax and Autumn are back in school? Are they friends? Do they go back to ignoring each other? Will Autumn finally get with Jeff?

I don't want to give away any details about the middle to end of the book, but I loved the second half of the book probably just as much as (if not more so) I loved the first half. Dax and Autumn become closer (as friends) in the library, but they grow more closer after the library. They need each other for different reasons, and I loved seeing them rely on each other.

Speaking of, I loved the romance. It's all Dax and Autumn, despite what the synopsis sort of implies. Autumn had a crush on Jeff, who is a genuinely nice guy. But she never really likes him, and realizes that he isn't for her. Dax is a steady, calming presence that Autumn needs and wants, and she really likes him. Autumn is a ray of sunshine for Dax, and he really likes her. I always want more kissy scenes in West's books, and this book was no exception, but I adored the progression of the romance!

So, no love triangle! Just a whole lot of swoon between Dax and Autumn. Subtle swoon, at first. And then obvious swoon. 

I also loved how West handled anxiety and panic attacks. There are a few scenes in which Autumn experiences a panic attack, and I thought West captured those moments really well. My heart broke for Autumn, but at the same time, I love how strong she is. West also handles Dax's backstory well. I don't want to say too much about Dax, but let's just say that he has a difficult past, and again, West writes in those issues well. 

West also does a great job with portraying a lot of solid friendships! Autumn's bond with her friend Lisa is sweet and rock-solid. Autumn has a large friend group and it's often hard to connect directly and personally with all of them, and I think West does a great job of expressing this kind of friendships (the large groups, as well as the best friend).

So! Good characterization, good character development, fun story, cute romance? Sold. I liked this book a lot. It's probably not a new favorite of West's (then again, I really love them all), but it does not disappoint. I am looking forward to reading her next book (Lucky in Love, with Scholastic)!

What I Did Not Like:

Nothing specific coming to mind! I suppose I wish there were more kissy scenes (heh). But that seems to be West's style, and that's completely fine!

Would I Recommend It:

Whether you like YA contemporary or not... I would always put West's book on my recommended list. I've read seven of seven and I have yet to be disappointed. I am not a YA contemporary person, but West is my #1 auto-buy author (and she doesn't just read YA contemporary, mind you!). If you love her books, then this one won't disappoint!

Rating:

4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. This book has such a cute premise (stuck in the library!), and West really delivered. Uplifting and mesmerizing, By Your Side is sure to leave readers with a smile on their face!


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

31 comments:

  1. This sounds absolutely adorable! It's been ages since I've read a contemporary, but I remember reading West's debut a couple years ago and loving it. Plus I mean...how am I supposed to resist a meet-cute that involves being locked in a library?!

    Thanks for putting this on my radar, Alyssa! :)

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    1. Kasie West's contemporary novels are wonderful! I highly recommend some of her earlier ones. The library setting was neat! They were stuck in the library for only half the book (three days), but I loved it.

      You're very welcome, Danya! Thank YOU! <3

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  2. I'm so excited to read this book! Kasie is one of my favorite contemporary author, and I love all of her books I've read. Great review! <33

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    1. Isn't she amazing? I hope you love this one, Tiffany. Thank you! ^_^

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  3. Everyone seems to love Kasie West and I keep meaning to read her stuff but never do. I am definitely intrigued by this one. Great review!

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    1. GIRL. You are missing out! I highly recommend her novels, especially her contemporary. Well, especially all of the books. :D Thank you, Teresa!

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  4. I've heard so many wonderful things about Kasie West, and this book looks so happy & fluffy & soft. Also, YES YES YES for an honest portrayal of anxiety & panic attacks. That is something so sorely lacking on YA, I have found, so to see it here is a beautiful thing. Thank you so much for sharing, dear Alyssa - By Your Side is on my TBR now, & I truly cannot wait to pick it up over the holidays. <3

    Topaz (Six Impossible Things)

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    1. She did a great job (in my opinion)! There are so many different forms of anxiety and panic, and I think West portrayed both in Autumn well. I hope you like this one if you read it, Topaz! Thank you. <3

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  5. Yesss, I'm so glad you liked this one! I also enjoyed it immensely, and I'm happy to say that my first West book was definitely a hit. :D Do you have any other particular recommendations for another book of hers to start? There are just so many!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

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    1. Whaaaaaat, only your first? Rad ALL of them! Well, let's see... I think my favorite has been P.S. I Like You... also The Fill-In Boyfriend. Really you can't go wrong with any of them, even the paranormal ones. :D

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  6. I have this one for review and I can't WAIT to read it! (In fact, I might not---now that I've read this, I just want to read it right now.)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Do itttt! It's a really sweet (and quick) read. ^_^

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  7. oh I just have a weakness for a swoony romance!!! I like the sound of the heroine funny and clumsy, I just love those types.

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    1. Me too! The sweet ones are always lovely. Autumn was so cute!

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  8. Ohhh awesome review my friend! You just made me want to take a book that I have by Kasie West with me when I go to my parents house tomorrow and that's what I am exactly going to do lol :D. But seriously I really love the synopsis of this book plus I absolutely love swoon worthy and cute books! Thank you so much for the great post Alyssa!

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    1. You totally should! Which book is it? Let me know how it goes. It's a sweet story, I think you'll like it!

      Thank YOU!

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  9. Wow, Nick who loves her books did not like this but you who normally isn't a fan of contemporary books liked this quite a bit. Interesting, I wanna try this a little bit more now.

    Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

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    1. I definitely saw a few disappointed reviewers on Goodreads! If you read this one, I hope you like it. =)

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  10. Kasie West is one of my all-time favourite contemporary authors, it's lovely to read a glowing review of her latest book - you've made me super excited to pick it up! - Bee x

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    1. It was a good one (in my opinion)! I liked some of her older books more, but this one did not disappoint. I hope you love it, Bee!

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  11. I haven't read a Kasie West book yet, but I feel like I have to over this short break from work. I love your review and feel like this is a book I would enjoy. I like how we get to see what happens after sometimes that portion is to short or left out and it leaves me wondering.

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    1. This one was great! Her older novels are really awesome too - I highly recommend any of them. I hope you enjoy it if you read it! ^_^

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  12. I haven't read any of Kasie's books, but I own several. They look so cute and fun! I really need to get a move on with them! Love your review :)

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    1. Oooo! Definitely give one a chance! Her other contemporary novels are really, really good.

      Thank you, Meredith!

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  13. EEEK! I have this one to review! I can't wait to read it. I'm actually kind of happy that there's an "after" so I don't have to guess what happened when they were back in their normal routines. Great review!
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

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    1. Yay! I hope you like it! I had also been worried that the entire book would be set in the library and there wouldn't be an aftermath (except maybe an epilogue). Not the case here!

      Thank you, Genesis. :D

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  14. Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one more than me :( I liked this book, I liked Autumn and Dax, but I didn't LOVE IT. I read P.S. I Like You right after this and that one I loved. I'm still trying to find out why, and it's killing me (though it was 3 stars, I "liked" it).
    Anyway, I'm so happy for you!

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    1. I agree that it wasn't her best - her older contemporary novels were better. P.S. I Like You was amazing! Have you read The Fill-In Boyfriend? Or any of the others? So cute.

      Thank you!

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  15. Lovely review Alyssa :D And ohh, 7th book by this author? And all seem to be this genre? That's awesome, hih :D I'm glad you are loving them all. <3 I do suppose I must try some of her books one day :) Yay for no triangle and for good swoon. <3

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    1. She is a writing machine! I've really enjoyed all of her books - though this one might be in the lower side of "liked". I loved her previous books a little more than this one, but I still thought this one was good. ;)

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