Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: 2 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.
Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.
What I Liked:
I think this is a case of "it's not you, it's me". I probably never should have picked up this book in the first place. I usually hate second-chance romances and I'm not really a YA contemporary person, BUT, I am most certainly a romance person, and this one didn't sound too bad in terms of the romance aspect, so I thought I'd be safe. Plus, there are so many positive reviews on Goodreads, by trusted friends and other reviewers. Sadly, I think I should have kept my distance.
This book is told in a "Then" and "Now" type of timeline, in Cameron's POV and Virginia's POV. That should have been my first red flag - I don't like reading split timelines. I love dual POVs, but reading then and now chapters doesn't work for me. For me.
It starts in the "Now", with Virginia boarding the tour bus with the band - her friends Logan and Anders, a bandmate named Reese... and the fourth band member, Cameron. Virginia and Cameron have history, from two years ago, and it ended badly. But she has to put aside her broken heart and hurt feelings, because she's with the band on an internship in publicity, and the band is going to be followed around by cameramen, getting footage of the band as they compete across the nation. Everything is about to exposed, including Virginia's ever-present feelings for Cameron, Cameron's attempts at reconciliation, and secrets that were never meant to be uncovered.
Things I liked: Cameron. He's a sweetheart. I understand he broke up with Virginia two years ago, and supposedly that should make him the villain of this second-chance romance, but I wasn't buying that. Him breaking up with her had nothing to do with her, and her acting like a complete b***h to him in present times was so not called for. Cameron is a decent guy with a good heart. He had a crappy hand dealt to him. He's a good person.
I really can't think of anything else I enjoyed about this book. I guess there was a happy ending, but when you don't like the girl, is it really a happy ending?
What I Did Not Like:
I didn't like Virginia. Look, I get it. If I were in her shoes, I would be mad about getting dumped (and not knowing why, at the time). I would be bitter about it. Two years later, I'd probably still be bitter about it. But Virginia treats Cameron terribly. And she never apologizes for that - I think that's what makes me the most angry, when it comes to this type of situation. Sure, you get to be pissed off about having been dumped. But I don't think you should be cruel, and then never acknowledge that you were cruel, and never apologize. That's toxic behavior.
I also was not here for the drama. I haaaate drama, especially in YA contemporary novels. There is romance drama in this book - some sort of weird non-love-triangle love triangle. Like it's not really a love triangle but it also sort of is. You'd have to read the book to understand what I mean. But there are two guys and a girl, and the girl has at minimum made out with both of them, and even in the loosest sense, that's a love triangle.
And there was other drama too, not just love triangle drama. So much angst and pettiness, and also the whole cameras rolling thing. The cameras were there to film the band on tour - both onstage and offstage. There was a lot of drama associated with this; the publicist cooked up a love triangle (Virginia, Logan, Cam), and she orchestrated breakups, fake kissing footage, fights, etc. So much drama. I was not interested in all this petty drama.
I think another red flag for me should have been the cameras thing. It was meant to be like KUWTK or something - basically following everyone around on the tour bus and also on tour. Reality TV, but with teenaged wannabe rockstars. I so dislike reality TV, I dislike cameras and doctoring "reality" to be more dramatic and interesting for fans, and I really don't like books centering around rock bands and rock stars and fame. Everything gets messy when fame and popularity is involved.
Did I mention that I didn't like the romance? It was messy. It was full of drama. It was angsty. It was painful to watch. Virginia wasn't a good person, relative to Cameron. She wasn't forgiving. I get that she didn't have to be, and he isn't entitled to her forgiveness, but I also think she should have been a little more humane, given what he had going on in, during that time. Death isn't exactly easy. Especially since Virginia had negative problems, it just made her seem like a spoiled princess. Not here for that.
I should have gone with my first instinct which was to skip this book.
Would I Recommend It:
I don't recommend this book, especially if you don't like drama and love triangles and pettiness and b****y heroines. Like I said about, this book wasn't for me. There were so many things about it that I don't usually like and definitely did not like in this case. But that's on me. This is a case of it's-not-you-it's-me, and that's okay.
2 stars. Not for me, sadly. I'd heard of this book for months, since 2017, and I'd thought it would be something I might actually like, despite the obvious second-chance romance. I tried. Within 50 pages, I knew I wouldn't enjoy the book, and it never turned around. But hey, I don't usually like second-chance romances, or YA contemporary, or books with bands/music stars, or books with cameras rolling/reality TV, or books with drama... you get the idea.
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!